Are you a writer who’s looking to venture into mystery writing? If so, you should understand that writing mystery novels is different from other forms of writing. For a story to be referred to as a mystery, there has to be a crime or puzzle that needs to be solved, and it must be solved before the end of the novel.
There are a few rules that you should familiarize yourself with so that you can produce a captivating novel that will keep your readers hooked to the end. Below are some of the top rules that you should adhere to if you want to write the best new mystery books.
1. Conceal the Villain
The thrill in reading a mystery novel lies in hiding the villain from your readers. As a rule, you should know your villain before writing the story as this will help you to throw clues and red herrings into the read and keep the readers in suspense. However, at the start of the book, don’t paint one character as the outright villain. Let the reader interact with each character and try to guess who the bad guy will be. This will keep them guessing until it becomes obvious who the villain is. By the time the readers get there, they will be too hooked to put the book down.
2. Present a Flawed Hero
All top rated mystery novels have one thing in common — they present a flawed hero. See that detective who is solving the mystery murder in your story? Don’t present him to your readers as a perfect individual. Give him some flaws. Show that he has demons or character issues that he is dealing with. This imperfection adds layers of conflict to your story and makes it relatable. After all, no human is perfect.
3. Break the Rules
One critical rule of mystery writing is knowing how and when to break the rules of mystery writing. When people pick up a romance novel, they expect to get a love story that ends with a happily ever after. Similarly, in mystery novels, readers have certain expectations. For example, once they pinpoint the potential villain at the beginning, they expect him to be the character behind the evils. Readers expect Karma to take cause.
Why don’t you twist things up a little? Kill an unexpected good character in the first third of the story. Twist the story to present a different villain that who the readers anticipated. Leave the readers with an “aha” at the end of the story, and they will love you.
Writing mystery novels can be exciting, but you need to maintain the suspense, thrill, excitement, anger, and other emotions until the end of the book. Follow these rules to produce a masterpiece that will be top rated. Also, don’t be afraid to go against the norm — surprise your readers and they will latch onto your book until the end.