Wednesday, August 8, 2018

What Do I Love in a Good Mystery?

When I decided to enter Heartless into the contest for this anthology, I didn't have a clue about how to write a mystery/thriller. However, I'd read a lot of them: Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Stephen King, and lots of the ever-so-dark Mr. Poe--so I said, well, how hard can it be?

I can be naive even at my advanced age.

I started by asking myself, "What do I love in a good mystery?" Here's what I came up with.

I love it when I feel as if I'm right there. I can hear the scream. I can see the blood. I can taste the acrid burning of cyanide on my tongue. The spider webs netted across the path stick to my skin, and I can smell the electrical short that's about to erupt into flames and destroy those helplessly trapped in the basement. 

I want to hear the scream.
I love it, when on page one, my eyes fly open and my brain goes on alert--even if I'm lying in bed and thinking about sleep. I want page one so irresistible that I have to turn to page two and see what happens.

I love it when the guy or gal whose in charge of bringing justice into this unjust world is someone I can relate to. They're human but they have a few quirks and definitely a few flaws, but above all they're determined to do the job no matter the cost to themselves.

I love it when I'm half way through a page and exhausted, but still I can't put down the book to sleep. 

I love it when after the chase through the cemetery, the moor, the deep and dangerous cavern, I get something to smile or laugh at. And it must have the sharpness of wit about it. Don't give me prat falls.

I need a laugh after the spooky parts.


I love it when there's a labyrinth of clues that intrigue and confuse me, but keep me making my way through to the end.

I love it when a bigger--even more dangerous event--looms in the background. I want a race against the clock for the guilty, but also the innocent.

I love it when there's an end that wraps up all of the threads to my satisfaction and brings a sense of "ahhh."

All of this makes for what's called a TALL ORDER, so, of course, I tried. I didn't write a book, but I took some baby steps and wrote Heartless


10 comments:

  1. You did a great job with "Heartless"! I'd never have guessed it was your first mystery.

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    1. Thanks Rebecca. I may try another one to see if I've learned anything.

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  2. I think you covered all of that with your story!

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  3. Considering I'm not a big mystery fan, you did great to win me over,

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  4. Yes! All those things. Heartless is fantastic. I was talking about mysteries/thrillers with one of my boys. I said what I like about that genre is the unpredictability. The hero, or on of the main characters, might die. There's always a twist. I like the twist, keeps me guessing. Well done!

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    1. You're so right about the unpredictability of mysteries. Since this anthology, I've been reading more of them.

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  5. I loved Heartless and felt like I was right there and had to know what happened next and how it would end. Excellent story!

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  6. You achieved your goal and wrote a story with all the things you love in a mystery. Congratulations! It's always fun to try something new, and then surprise yourself with the result.

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