When two residents in Ellen Lange’s nursing home die, Special Investigator Bill Watts is called to the scene. With the murders linked to others, known as the Ponytail Crimes, it’s only a matter of time before the killer strikes again.
Bill is a Southerner; Ellen was raised in the Midwest. Despite her efforts to remain aloof, Ellen finds herself falling in love with more than the South…
The Thrill of the Mystery
It’s true mysteries are fun to write, but they do have more underlying structure. The reader should NOT be aware of it, but writers beware:
Stay as linear as possible or frame the story, by dropping the body: OMG and then starting at the “once upon a time”. Fill in the motivations and hints. Develop the characters and establish their interactions.
Never place an object or a person in the plot that has no function. This can easily be said for all fiction, certainly for anything suspenseful. The gun must be shot; the villain must be involved in the evil that men do…
Not a rule, but a bit of advice. Make sure you use everything at your disposal to create characters that live after the plot. Think about the people whom you’ve known in real life – I’m assuming you have a real life you squeeze in when possible. The unforgettable people such as the lady in the red hat and purple gloves; the little old lady who phoned the kitchen from her private room before getting the volunteer to bring in a lunch in my Mortal Coil. The man with a limp who used the cane with the wrong hand, or the shy girl who always ducked first before answering questions. Remember the man standing under the streetlight at the end of Diana Gabaldon’s first book, The Outlander? Where is he now? And who was he?
The reader must care about these people before he or she can regret their murders and follow the author to the killer’s door.
Give as much attention to your red herrings as to your real clues.
Never let your minor characters take over. He or she must not have more words, but most of all he must not be more interesting, or more memorable, or have more action scenes. It’s easy to fall into this trap with villains if you give them too much back story to explain their bad behavior.
Beware of spoilers in sequels. Identify the people who carry over from the previous stories, but don’t refer to the outcomes or any suspenseful scene that might reveal the ending.
About the author:
Julie Eberhart Painter raised in Bucks Count, Pennsylvania, boyhood home of James A Michener, is the author of Mortal Coil, Tangled Web, and the 2011 Book of the Year, Kill Fee, and sequel, Medium Rare from www.champagnebooks.com. Daughters of the Sea, e-book and print. Julie’s first paranormal romance, and Morning After Midnight are available from MuseItUp Publishing.
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