How to Write a Great Crime and Mystery Novel
Sat, April 17, 2021

How to Write a Great Crime and Mystery Novel

Today, bookstores are probably filled with novels that are all about cops and criminals and everything in between / Photo by: Philippe Halle via 123RF

 

As much as it is somehow embarrassing to admit, reading gruesome crime novels are exciting. Don’t worry, enjoying these kinds of novels doesn’t make you a criminal or a psychopath. Blame the author for creating a great masterpiece that makes us hooked on reading his satisfying story that may be about how complicated it is to achieve justice. 

Today, bookstores are probably filled with novels that are all about cops and criminals and everything in between. Even classic novels are becoming more familiar among the younger generation as they are discovered and hook them with their engaging storytelling and themes. Reading a great novel is one thing, but writing one is a challenge. A lot of readers do become encouraged to try their hand at writing a crime novel. And there is really no harm in trying to let out that suppressed detective thoughts in a book. 

But how do you do it if you’ve never done it before? Here are some tips you can follow:

 

Step Into Your Audience’s Shoes

According to an article published by Vulture, the culture and entertainment site, Alex Michaelides, who wrote “The Silent Patient,” said that when he wrote his first novel, he was actually writing it for himself. For his second novel, he managed to have his own agent and a good editor to guide him. He added that as a novel writer, it is okay to be filled with thoughts about how your audience will like your work once they read it. 

However, try not to focus and fixate too much on that kind of stuff. It should be done in the right amount and focus should be on the story even more. 

Identify Your Writing Style

Knowing what your writing style helps in making you create a wonderful piece. As for the mystery genre, it is best to know which type of story will fit your personal writing style. The Write Practice, a website that provides help for aspiring novelists, shared that there are many sub-genres under the mystery umbrella. Some of them are as follows:

- Cozy mysteries. These require a huge deal of setting and character description, maintain a slow pace to keep it interesting. Cozy writers must be prepared to produce upward of 60,000 words, without a lot of action, and still make it engaging. It is important to have a lot of focus on the novel’s main character rather than on the crime. 

- Police procedurals. These stories usually revolve around the adventures of noted police departments such as the LAPD and NYPD. They also require extensive and specialized knowledge about medical and legal procedures. It is also advisable to have a thorough research about the legal proceedings as well as the pervading law in the novel’s setting.

Remember that readers are smart enough to know whether your novel contains reliable information. They will chew you up and spit you out alive if you get it wrong. It will also give a bad reputation to the writer who got his facts wrong. 

These stories usually revolve around the adventures of noted police departments such as the LAPD and NYPD. They also require extensive and specialized knowledge about medical and legal procedures / Photo by: veresproduction via 123RF

 

Writers who wish to explore this kind of mystery must be good at building themes for their characters. They must be prepared to create puzzles and clues that will drive their main character. 

- Private eye/noir. This kind of novel requires letting the readers into the minds of its central characters. It is best to have the novel presented from a third-person point of view that will allow the readers to have an idea about the characters’ plans and motivations. Keep in mind that inevitably, the PI will have interaction with the police, and these instances must be realistically presented. Thorough research about what's happening in a police station can be very helpful. 

The protagonist makes a living in solving crimes. They are also doing well in background investigations, and these can be in the character of a computer expert who has a background in IT or any related field. 

Thorough Research

If you wish to channel some Michael Crichton vibe into your novel, you must prepare a lot of time researching on the actual advancements that are happening in the scientific world today. Crime Reads, a website that provides information about novels, said that scientific thrillers, for example, have the right blend of a crime thriller, which is based on real science. 

For instance, “Jurassic Park” features a scientific breakthrough on cloning technology that allowed dinosaurs to walk on Earth again. But it also contains a lot of mysterious murders that enable its characters to work as brilliant scientists, mathematicians, and also detectives who must work to find out who really killed who.

As you keep on writing, must keep things believable. Although it is under the fiction category, there is no fun having your eyebrows raised while reading a crime thriller. Avoid being an outlandish writer when making a crime or mystery novel. 

Building suspense in your novel is a must, but make sure that the buildup is worth it especially if you have done it for a very long time. It could be the character’s physical safety, emotional condition, or their psychological health.

Crime Reads, a website that provides information about novels, said that scientific thrillers, for example, have the right blend of a crime thriller, which is based on real science / Photo by: Katarzyna Białasiewicz via 123RF