I love a good mystery! The eccentric sleuth who investigates; the endangered victim(s); the crime; the witnesses; and the release of clues—puzzle pieces that pop around in the reader’s imagination until they fit. However, when an author adds the intricate details of forensic investigation to the mix the mystery becomes much more detailed and satisfying for most readers.
Some time ago I spoke with a group of avid Mystery Readers who met once a month to discuss the novel they’d selected. They followed one simple rule—DO NOT read the last chapter (conclusion) until the next meeting when they would read The End together. Each person wrote out their “professional opinion” on a 3×5 card, signed and dated it; these were collected in a basket as they arrived at their gathering place. No matter who or how many reached the author’s selected culmination-of-clues, their enjoyment was made much richer by becoming the detective/investigator themselves.
The combination of clues—whether placed in dialogue or footprints or microscopic detail—opens the reader’s imagination. So it is that the author must explore all avenues of investigation, allowing the words on the page to create an image in the reader’s mind. For example is the cliché statement “Blood is thicker than water,” true? That concept is used in many ways, but for the Mystery Writer the factual answer to this question is vital. While an anatomy professor might tell us that 83% of blood is water, how can that “fact” be useful in story form? What could an investigator learn from a victim’s blood that has only 50% water and higher elements of something else? What might that something else be?
In 2010, an exhibition of the human body was brought to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. A German anatomist, Gunther von Hagens, had invented a technique called “plastination” that preserved elements of actual human anatomy (donated for his scientific research) with an exactness that shocked many viewers. More than 37 million people around the world now know what a human body looks like beneath the skin. And they are the Mystery Readers who will be reading your next book.
Are you prepared for their critique? Do you have writing partners to review your manuscripts before they go to print? There are many ghostwriters who love research and could offer their expertise. Self-publishing teams of writers, editors and author representatives can guide and support the Mystery Author. And there are other helpers, such as the International Thriller Writers organization, who offer mentor contacts—authors who have walked this trail and know how to avoid the pitfalls.
I applaud the Mystery Writers of today—each one finding their niche within the genre. Some are comfortable with the “cozy” mystery; some will jump into the end of the pool and give us the full dose of well-researched and well-written scientific criminology. May you all succeed and fear-not making the step to self-publish and set your stories FREE.
|ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene Doyle is a Ghostwriter with Outskirts Press, bringing more than 35 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their writing projects. She has worked with both experienced and fledgling writers helping complete projects in multiple genres. When a writer brings the passion they have for their work and combines it with Royalene’s passion to see the finished project in print, books are published and the writer’s legacy is passed forward.|