Read as many murder mysteries as you can as it will expand your knowledge. The more you learn about them, the better. By watching murder mysteries as well as reading them you may gather some ideas about how murders are solved. Watching real life cop shows may also help. If you are serious about writing and can get the permission, it may be a good idea to shadow a detective team or at least ask them how murder investigations work.
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Get a notebook dedicated for your story/novel.
Figure out the basics. Sit down and think about the basic component of your murder mystery. Think of different scenarios: murder on a train, murder by stabbing, murder at a house, or even serial killings. Whatever inspires you, write it down. You’ve got to answer all these questions:
- Who are the detectives?
- Why were they murdered?
- Who will be murdered? How was the person’s life? Does anyone else gets murdered too?
- What will they be murdered with?
- Does anyone discover about the murderer? Is information about the case released by the police, or is it kept a secret? How the victim’s friends and family reacted to the news?
- Who are the suspects? Did they have a relationship with the victim, the murderer or another suspect? What are their life stories?
- Lastly, who was the murderer? What was his or her sentence after trial? How was their relationship with other existing character like? Do not make the murderer too obvious.
Detail. Some writers like to write straight away but murder mysteries can get complicated so it might be a good idea to read your ideas again, and do some detailed planning.
Make character profiles to remind you of who’s who. Write down some lines, some phrases and some possible endings you could use.
Start Writing. With your storyline in place you should write your story. This is the fun part where you can get creative.
- Write the opener. This is basically introducing all the characters and the setting, then going into the action. A good idea for this part is where the suspects have a massive argument, one after the other, with the person who will soon be dead. This would swan the suspects into the reader’s head.
- Write the murder. Write this in huge detail. You should have so much detail that the reader would have a clear picture in their head. Does the person who’s about to get killed see the murderer, or is he/she taken by surprise? Describe the victim’s feelings right before he/she gets killed. Describe the setting of the murder. Try something like, The golden statue shone in the silver moonlight that came through the thick glass windows. Paul stared into the broken glass, his eyes not moving from the person’s face as the statue came down on him. His piercing scream was stopped as the statue came next to his scarlet ear.
- Write the discovery. Who finds the body? A suspect, or a random person? Is the murder weapon at the crime scene, or has it gone with the killer?
- Now bring the suspects in. Does someone get arrested because they are suspected? Do one of the suspects stalk the police or does someone see the murder and start stalking the murderer?
- The plot thickens! Is new evidence discovered? Has it been placed there on purpose? Are the police confused because they are being tricked? What’s happening?
- Get a couple of suspects ruled out. If the killed person had 12-20 suspects, rule it down to something like 9-16. If they had 7-17, get the suspects down to 6-15.
- Thicken the plot even more! Add an unexpected twist. Does one of the suspects commit suicide? Does someone kill a suspect? Does one suspect come forward with fresh information about the murder? Add something else to throw the reader’s off-track.
- Rule the suspects down. By this point in the novel, there should only be about 3-4 suspects. Remember that whatever you do, don’t make it predictable. Jumble it up so the reader can’t guess quickly. A good idea is to make all of the suspects innocent, and there is a very unexpected person that is the murderer. That would be exciting and would throw your reader totally off-track!
- Write the ending. Is it a cliffhanger? Is there a confession? It could still be a complete mystery, like this; “It was me!” A soft voice cried from behind the lamppost, then footsteps echoed off the stone walls as the mystery killer ran away for the last time.
Check your work. Read it through, and re-write it if you don’t like it. Some books have been re-written many times. You may need some help with this, ask a fellow writer, friend, relative, or teacher to check your work, suggest improvements and to help make your work better. Adults are good at spotting mistakes like spelling and punctuation, especially in the writing of children. You can’t take what they say to heart and you have to be harsh on your own work.
- Make sure the word “said” isn’t used to many times. It’s appropriate to use “said” 6 times on one page. Also, you should only use “and” 9 times on one page.
If you want more people to read it, send it to a publisher!
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