Thursday, November 24, 2022

Writing the Murder Mystery - Barbara Norville

 Part of JR Jyoti saab's collection. Since we are writing a murder mystery now, it made sense to peep into this book. First up she says something interesting - a mystery was defined by the Greeks with the word 'mysterion' which means 'to keep silence'. 

All mystery comes from a morality angle (earlier the God angle but now no more). It is filled with near-genius villains, foible filled heroes, funky heroines - all of whom lighten the crime and punishment theme.

There are 8 sub genres in mystery - 

  • Private eye (categorised by mobility),
  • Police procedural (precinct/precint house, police, criminals, victims),
  • Heists (Target, mastermind, cohorts, expense money, equipment, scheduling, heist, getaway, disposal, dividing, dispersal, outcome),
  • Capers,
  • Kidnappings (Target, mastermind, cohorts, expense money, equipment, scheduling, kidnapping, contact, exchange, getaway, divide, dispersal, outcome)
  • Romantic suspense  

To get ideas she says explore a whole realm of ideas, look for sinister intentions. Nurture the ideas and finally nail the idea.

Introducing the 3 main characters

Crime, Motive and Solution

Opening Gambit

In the first 1/3 appeal to readers/viewers emotion as much as the logic. The primary emotion is suspense. Introduce the scene of the crime early, introduce the 3 important characters early, the sleuths

Who is killed?

Who is affected?

Who wants to solve it?

The Middle Game

Look at Momentum. Understand that the sleuth understands human nature very well. 

Motives are normally - Greed, Thwarted Love, Revenge, Opportunity (Love, Greed, Pain - are main themes)

Challenges  - more murders, multiple, threat of a murder, physical hurdles, psychological

Getting Information - About all suspects

Laying Clues - Keep track 

Coincidence, Cliffhangers, Subplots,

Don't make it easy for the sleuth

End Game

Make it tight - Intense

Wind this up soon

Revealing whodunit is the climax

Wrap Up

Emotional satisfaction

Creating Memorable Characters

Plot vs Character. The sleuth's burden. The Murderer's Mind. The victim's role. Suspects. Minor - information passers, local color, pace breakers.

Background for Murder

 Natural phenomena as emotional backdrops. Using familiar surroundings: foreign, city, wilderness, rural. Special backgrounds;research and accuracy, consulting experts.


Good one. Got some good pointers. 

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