1. RightWrite

    RightWrite Active Member

    Feb 17, 2018
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    Which is more important with Mysteries, method of solving the puzzle or the content of the puzzle?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by RightWrite, Nov 23, 2019.

    I understand that one of the hallmark characteristics of the mystery genre is the feeling of gratification derived by the reader when he or she solves the puzzle before the detective does. But, in my opinion, it is equally important to avoid making the mystery novel too involved, convoluted, dense, and complicated, e.g. having too many suspects or too many relationships between them, too many interrelated clues or red herrings, and making the crime details too technical or specialized that the reader is not able to piece together the clues and solve the crime.

    Having said this, I believe that it is more important to highlight and exemplify the methods of logic involved in solving a crime or puzzle rather than taxing the reader with a dense, convoluted puzzle. Doing this would be much more enjoyable for the reader, in my opinion. In other words, having a relatively simpler plot and story line is sufficient as long as the reader gains enjoyment in using the logical thinking process in solving the crime. The Double Clue by Agatha Christie is an example of this.

    Sometimes, mystery genre authors will try to make the puzzle too convoluted in order to avoid coming across to the reader as lacking sophistication. I'm not saying all mystery novelists do this. But, I believe that it's more prudent, wise and effective to take the approach of showcasing the methods of logic in solving a puzzle rather than taxing the reader with a very dense, convoluted content for that puzzle.

    What is your opinion on this? Should the author focus on developing a strong set of logical methods with which the crime is solved or focus on making the story more dense? Or a balance?
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2019
  2. N.Scott

    N.Scott Active Member

    Sep 8, 2019
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    I always think there's a resemblance between mystery novels and magic performance, the puzzle/trick doesn't have to be complicated, but rather, it's how and what you lead the reader to force on. As far as I concert, any audience could be a secret assistant and they bring their own card to the guess-what-I-got trick, but if you make a big deal about how you choose that audience you can get away with it every time. Probably not a good example, but you get the idea. In conclusion, to me, it's all about the secrets, what is it that everyone try to hide, and why they hide it.
    To adjust your question, personly I don't like it when things get too logical or technical, you know what they say, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, take the money.
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2019

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