Reading mystery fiction is a lot of fun, but writing mystery fiction can be even more. Just like any other genre, mystery fiction has specific guidelines you need to follow and stick to when writing it.
Mystery fiction is a bit specific then other genres in a way that the reader has more expectations when reading mystery. He or she wants to know that at the end there is the key to the puzzle and that there are certain clues throughout the book that are identifiable and make the reading experience just like solving a murder case.
The reader always needs to be involved in the process with a mystery fiction. Knowing the rules and guidelines can help you when writing mystery fiction, but rather than just learning the rules, make sure you take a note of them when reading other mystery novels and think about how other authors use them. Here are the basic mystery fiction writing guidelines you need to know.
1. The plot is everything
Of course characters are important, but if you focus too much on character development you might end up with a more psychological note to your writing rather than mystery fiction. In mystery fiction the plot needs to be the strongest feature of the book. You want to make sure the plot is believable and that there is always something happening. Readers expect active development.
2. Don’t dwell on backstory
You need to paint the crime early on. Readers need to be introduces to the murder in the beginning of the book so that they are captured by it from the beginning. If you dwell too much on introducing the characters or the backstory you will definitely deviate from the murder plot and shift from the mystery fiction genre.
3. Introduce the hero
You know the guy or girl who ends up figuring out the whole thing? That’s your hero, and you need to introduce the hero at the beginning of your mystery fiction writing. You don’t want your reader to feel like some outsider has come into the story at the last moment and solved the crime. That would seem unfair. You want your hero to be familiar to the reader throughout the book.
4. The crime solving should be rational
Even if you have some paranormal evidence you want the methods of your detective to be rational and scientific. After all the plot and case need to be believable and you want to give your reader an option to participate. Hide clues all throughout the book which lead to the solving of the case. This way the reader plays a detective as well. If you make it so that the hero of the book solves the case in an out of the blue dream, the reader has no way of guessing and participating and might feel cheated out of a good puzzle.