Lured by the dark side – Talking Mystery

by juliusmsanz

I’ve always been a fan of horror, thrillers and mysteries.

Must be because they deal with the dark side of stories. I like comedy and romance and all that, but there’s just something about a good mystery or horror that draws me closer. They are just so fun to watch and read and write about! Horror stories are especially filled with clichés, and yet I don’t mind most of them. I wrote something on those three genres and, personally, I had a blast. It isn’t very difficult to write about horror, or even to build some thrillers, mysteries are the tricky part.

The problem with mysteries is that you need to be very careful and mind what you are doing. You need a solid cast with motives, means and opportunities to make the novel shine. But most of all you need to plan ahead. How far do you need to plan? In certain cases you can just write a rough sketch of some chapters and move the story from there, with mysteries you need to get down to the bottom of everything. The bar is high, and readers nowadays need to feel completely satisfied with what they’re reading. That means you got to start from the finish line.

Yep, I’m suggesting you get the ending done, or outlined, first and build your novel from there. And here’s why: One of my problems is that when I start writing I don’t have a clear-cut goal, and just make stuff up as I go along, but is that stuff doesn’t connect to the end then it’s all for nothing. Once I see how the story should end I build from there. Are you going to need just one character? Do you need multiple points of view? Have you created a nice red herring? Is everything explained? There’s a lot more questions that need answers. You don’t want to shock or thrill the reader, you want to make him intrigued, you want to make him try to find who the culprit is. You can’t make it easy for them, otherwise they’ll just think the story is boring. You need to be a master planner and great at plot creation.

Because plot is key in mysteries. Normally good characters can save a story, and you have some great fictional detectives like Holmes, Dupin, Poirot, Nero Wolfe, the list goes on and on; but they play the secondary characters, the mystery is the one that takes the main role.

Most of all I think a mystery needs to be satisfying. Is writing mysteries for everybody? I honestly don’t think so, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying.