mystery

Tips for Writing Crime and Mystery Fiction

My father fell in love with the Cat Who books by Lillian Jackson Braun with little incentive. A long time cat lover, mystery novels involving a cat that seemed to solve the crimes, as well as about cat lovers (for the most part), was right up his reading alley. Like many, he gobbled them up as soon as each one was released.

Writing mysteries and crimes is a long-held tradition in storytelling and publishing. We have some members of Writers in the Grove who are steadfast fans of the genre.

Here are some tips on writing crime and mystery fiction to tickle your fancy and keep you up at night – reading.

5 Killer Tips For Writing Deadly Crime Fiction – Molly Greene: Writer: Molly Greene is the author of the popular Gen Delacourt Mysteries series. In this great summary of tips, she offers legendary advice:

Open with a bang or a body.

Think James Bond. Or Agatha Christie. James Patterson. Or Garry Rodgers. AK-47s. Or dismembered hookers. Biological bombs. Or a corpse hanging from a meat-hook. A sharp hook… which is the oldest storytelling device and still the best.

You’ve got about ten seconds to hook your reader and keep their face in the page. So start off fast and slowly add backstory. Build it up, then end with a bang. Maybe another body, too.

Among the many tips offered by the following articles is advice that applies to all forms of writing: don’t be boring, edit well, don’t write likeable characters, have plenty of conflict, have a very compelling and damaged detective/investigator, and know exactly what your story is about while you are teasing the reader along the journey.

Kendra Elliot to Speak to Writers in the Grove February 13, 2017

Kendra Elliot, author.

On February 13, 2017, author Kendra Elliot will speak at our Monday Writers in the Grove meeting at 9AM at the Forest Grove Community and Senior Center in Forest Grove, Oregon.

Elliot is a prolific author of suspense, thriller, and murder mysteries. After reading a newspaper article about NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month, she decided she could sit down and write 50,000 words in 30 days, and did. She says on her website:

I sat down and wrote a contemporary romance but kept tripping over dead bodies in each chapter. I got the hint and my stories evolved into romantic suspense.

This Pacific Northwest native continues to live in the area and says she is obsessed with forensics, even studying with the FBI, and is involved in many writers associations and groups dedicated to her genre, weaving everything she learns into her fascinating stories.

Elliot has published numerous books including the popular series The Bone Secrets, Callahan and McLane, The Mercy Kilpatrick, and The Rogue River Novella series.

She will be talking about how she writes her books so fast and furious, publishing several a year, and about the publishing industry, dealing with agents and publishers.

Please join us for this fascinating presentation. There is no charge. We thank Kendra Elliot for her generosity in sharing her experiences with us.

November 27 Prompt – The Letter

The following prompt is from one of our Writers in the Grove members for our NaNoWriMo prompt-a-day project for November 2016.

How about a tribute to the Postal Service?

The envelope in the mailbox was to the wrong address, but the return address caught her attention.

Check out our list of prompts for even more inspiration.

November 26 Prompt – The Magnifying Glass

The following prompt is from one of our Writers in the Grove members for our NaNoWriMo prompt-a-day project for November 2016.

A little mystery prompt?

She picked up the large, gold magnifying glass from the desk.

Check out our list of prompts for even more inspiration.

Death By Window

Brick house with  reflection of trees in window.

The following was written by Writers in the Grove member, Gretchen Keefer.

Meyerink Detective Chipper looked down at the body on the porch. He remembered from the briefing sergeant Corvus had given him that this was an adult male identified as M. Dove, indeterminate age, no obvious trauma. Yet he was dead. Dead on the doorstep. Dead dressed ready for the day in a gray suit and white shirt.

Sergeant Corvus appeared beside the detective, pencil poised to take more notes. Corvus was efficient and effective at his job. He was quite large, husky and coal black. His straight black hair shone, his darting black eyes noted everything, and his long, sharp nose appeared to intimidate even the most experienced suspect. Chipper, a much shorter officer, felt somewhat daunted by his sergeant also. In his plain brown suit, Chipper appeared even smaller than usual when Corvus stood beside him. Yet they worked well together. Chipper carefully and thoughtfully generally found the right suspects; Corvus was adept at making them sing.

“What do we have so far, Bill?” Chipper asked his assistant.

Corvus replied, “The neighbor discovered the body when she went out for her morning paper. That’s Mrs. Flicker there, with her husband. I have their contact information.”

Chipper noted the middle aged woman with salt and pepper hair. Her husband stood protectively beside her.

Corvus continued, “She was incensed. She felt it was simply unseemly for Mr. Dove to be lying drunk on the porch so early in the morning. She stormed up the porch steps, calling to him to get up. Then she screamed. The noise alerted her husband, who called 911.”

“Broken neck, Detective,” the medical examiner approached Chipper and Corvus, removing his gloves. “A clean break. He probably didn’t even know what happened.”

That was small consolation to Detective Chipper. How did one die of a broken neck on a clean, uncluttered doorstep? There was no ice or frost or any oily substance to cause a slip. There had been no robbery. All of M. Dove’s effects were still on him. There were no other marks, contusions or signs of an assault.

“Have you talked to the rest of the neighbors yet, Bill?”

“Yeah. No one saw anything so early in the morning. All were busy with breakfast. Could be that short round fellow is lying. He quailed at my questions.”

Chipper smiled. Many people quailed at Corvus’ questioning.

“Should I round up the usual juveniles, sir?” Corvus asked.

“This wasn’t an attack. There is something else going on here.”

Detective Chipper looked around for some clue. He examined the porch, the carefully swept steps, the clean front of the house, the large picture window above the door. The window drew his attention. It was too clean for a window facing the prevailing weather. It probably had been recently washed. The trees in the front yard reflected clearly in the pane. He went closer. There he finally saw the faint feathery outline of a shape that matched what M. Dove probably looked like in motion. Spotting a passer-by with the same build as M. Dove, Detective Chipper asked him to walk slowly, strut, rush forward and hop up the steps. The detective was convinced the vague outline on the window matched a move Mr. Dove could very likely have made.

Perching on the sill of the large window, the detective peered closely at the image on the glass. He could still see the waving trees from the front lawn behind him. He could also see through the house to the trees beckoning from the back yard. It was a very enticing view. The sun had not yet reached this part of the house so there was no glare off the glass. He tilted his head and turned it sharply to look at the scene in the window from several angles. Now he was certain he knew the cause of death.

“Accidental Death,” ruled Detective Chipper. “In the early morning light M. Dove mistook the image of the trees in the window for a passage to the back yard. He simply flew into it and broke his neck.”

That decision made and the case closed, Detective Chipper spread his own wings and flew off.