Writing a Murder Mystery

You’ve decided to try your hand at writing a murder mystery, so where do you begin? Here is a place to start:

Figure out the basics. Sit down and think about the basic component of your murder mystery. Think of different scenarios: murder on a train, murder by stabbing, murder at a house, or even serial killings. Whatever inspires you, write it down. You’ve got to answer all these questions:

  • Who are the detectives?
  • Why were they murdered?
  • Who will be murdered? How was the person’s life? Does anyone else gets murdered too?
  • What will they be murdered with?
  • Does anyone discover about the murderer? Is information about the case released by the police, or is it kept a secret? How the victim’s friends and family reacted to the news?
  • Who are the suspects? Did they have a relationship with the victim, the murderer or another suspect? What are their life stories?
  • Lastly, who was the murderer? What was his or her sentence after trial? How was their relationship with other existing character like? Do not make the murderer too obvious.

 

Revision Tips for Writers

  1. Revise big stuff first, make small edits later. This doesn’t mean you should not correct obvious typos and grammar errors as you notice them. However, you shouldn’t be actively tinkering with word choice until after you’ve nailed down the structure of your piece.
  2. Put the manuscript down and walk away. Writers need at least a little distance from their manuscripts before jumping into revision.
  3. Scan the whole manuscript without reading. Scanning can make big problems more obvious than a writer might not notice when reading closely.
  4. Read carefully. Take your time and read every word. Then, read it out loud. This will help you catch obvious errors and check for smoothness or the “flow.”
  5.  Look for ways to be more concise with your language. Can you turn a 15-word sentence into an 8-word sentence? Can you turn an 8-sentence paragraph into a 5-sentence paragraph? Less almost always means more for the reader.
  6. Use active voice over passive voice. There may be occasions for using passive voice, but for the most part be active.
  7. Vary sentence structure. Even if it’s grammatically correct, using the same pattern over and over again will make your manuscript boring. Don’t feel like you have to be creative with every sentence; just check that you’re not falling into a monotonous pattern.
  8. Save each round of revisions as its own file. Saving these files provides a record of your changes and shows your development of the story.
  9. Have someone read the manuscript. The more eyes the better, because they’ll be more objective when reading. It is always best to ask someone other than a relative, who naturally will be biased.
  10. Print the manuscript for a final edit. There are things you’ll catch on paper that you won’t on the screen.