[F] Mystery Net Community  / Writing Mysteries  / Elements of a Mystery  /

Working out the solution: before or during writing?
 
John Tanking - 09:24pm Jan 14, 1998 PST

As a new participant to this wonderful forum, I thought I would offer a topic that has intrigued me for some time.

I assume that most writers plan a story in their head, prepare an outline, flesh out all the details and by the time they write the actual story text, are actually "painting by the numbers". If true, this may produce the best crafted story but it seems to me that the mystery writer might lose interest in a story that holds no mystery for the writer.

Would it be possible for a mystery writer to create characters and begin writing the actual text without any idea as to who committed the crime? The writer would in reality be creating and experiencing the same suspenseful emotions as the characters. Eventually as the writer's journey and story unwind, the writer would be tasked with trying to remove him/herself from the proverbial painted corner.

As a long time mystery reader and would-be inexperienced writer, I would appreciate anyone's comments. Personally I prefer the excitement associated with the second method but have no idea whether it's plausible.


  • Welcome John As an editor I can tell you how... by Marc Ammon - Jan 15, 98 (#1 of 113)
  • I can plan it all out and still be surprised at... by kim steelman - Jan 16, 98 (#2 of 113)
  • Thanks for the warm welcome Marc... by John Tanking - Jan 17, 98 (#3 of 113)
  • John This is a good topic, but it is often cast in... by Mark Troy - Jan 23, 98 (#4 of 113)
  • When I am writing (granted I am a beginner in the... by Morgan Crow - Feb 3, 98 (#5 of 113)
  • I love to write stories, and since I recently have... by Bronwen Morey - Feb 4, 98 (#6 of 113)
  • John: An interesting question... by JDough - Mar 28, 98 (#7 of 113)
  • When I wrote OFFICIAL SECRETS, I had the whole... by Jim Moore - Apr 18, 98 (#8 of 113)
  • This is a great discussion... by Morag Wilkinson - Apr 18, 98 (#9 of 113)
  • Seems to me that just writing the story with no... by Jim Moore - Apr 21, 98 (#10 of 113)
  • agree with you jim that the reader should be able... by Juanita Rose Violini - Apr 22, 98 (#11 of 113)
  • Isn't it diificult to create the solution of your... by Friend - Apr 22, 98 (#12 of 113)
  • This has been a really good discussion -- I'm so... by Kelly - Apr 25, 98 (#13 of 113)
  • ... by Leonard Nixdorf - May 5, 98 (#14 of 113)
  • I've found that one of the only ways I can keep... by Donna - May 9, 98 (#15 of 113)
  • Donna: That sounds like a good idea... by JDough - May 9, 98 (#16 of 113)
  • I am so happy to have found a site like this... by Cathi Martin - May 20, 98 (#17 of 113)
  • I envy you Cathi--my brain could never do it... by JDough - May 20, 98 (#18 of 113)
  • This a great site... by Chris Wong - Jun 15, 98 (#19 of 113)
  • From another wannabe, I'll drop in my penny's... by Kelly - Jun 17, 98 (#20 of 113)
  • I'm working on a new novel, a futuristic-homicide... by Robert DuPree - Jun 20, 98 (#21 of 113)
  • Robert, Now, why didn't I think of that?.. by JDough - Jun 25, 98 (#22 of 113)
  • BB and Kelly, Thanx so much for your helpful... by Chris Wong - Jun 25, 98 (#23 of 113)
  • If you have an idea where you want to go using an... by Leonard Nixdorf - Jul 2, 98 (#24 of 113)
  • Sometimes It come to me as I write, sometimes I... by Gervase Charmley - Oct 15, 98 (#25 of 113)
  • You don't... by Hugh Drummond - Nov 3, 98 (#26 of 113)
  • As for the solution... by Hugh Drummond - Nov 7, 98 (#27 of 113)
  • I am thinking of writing a mystery, I have the... by Spooky Lady - Nov 24, 98 (#28 of 113)
  • Why not post the story on "Mysterys by members"?.. by Alex Dent - Nov 24, 98 (#29 of 113)
  • am new to this site and haven't actually explored... by Spooky Lady - Nov 24, 98 (#30 of 113)
  • Gervase Charmley Post 25 and Hugh Drummond Post... by Marlene Lowen - Jan 8, 99 (#31 of 113)
  • Marlene - LOL!!!.. by _Sunshine_ - Jan 15, 99 (#32 of 113)
  • I remember the western writer Louis L'Amour on a... by Cymric - Jan 16, 99 (#33 of 113)
  • I have decided to become a participant instead of... by Wayne Brown - Feb 1, 99 (#34 of 113)
  • I'm in college and I find that writing helps me... by Leah Driever - Feb 15, 99 (#35 of 113)
  • Your problem is that you are editing as you are... by Bogie - Feb 15, 99 (#36 of 113)
  • It's not that I think my ideas are stupid, I just... by Leah Driever - Feb 15, 99 (#37 of 113)
  • Leah, Your idea has to captivate you so that you... by Rob Lewis - Feb 15, 99 (#38 of 113)
  • Hi Leah, I shouldn't have used the word 'stupid.'... by Bogie - Feb 16, 99 (#39 of 113)
  • Back on the topic of working out a solution before... by Bogie - Feb 16, 99 (#40 of 113)
  • If I understood you correctly, Leah, and like... by Joanne - Feb 17, 99 (#41 of 113)
  • I agree whole-heartedly with Joanne. by Brigid O'Shaugnessy - Feb 19, 99 (#42 of 113)
  • I am writing my first 'fiction' and am working in... by retired - Mar 1, 99 (#43 of 113)
  • I have to compose my full plot before I write the... by CHantel Lyngstad - Mar 17, 99 (#44 of 113)
  • I need a really good plot to keep me interested... by Chantel Dawn Lyngstad - Mar 18, 99 (#45 of 113)
  • hi gang i sent my first mystery in to the case... by george suits jr - Mar 19, 99 (#46 of 113)
  • Hey george, Can't help you buddy but I must... by Chantel Dawn Lyngstad - Mar 19, 99 (#47 of 113)
  • Got to tell you, I agree with John, both from the... by vinmunch - Apr 24, 99 (#48 of 113)
  • Hey, sometimes I can work out pretty much the... by Barbara Bassett - Apr 25, 99 (#49 of 113)
  • Oh, yeah--I forgot to add that if I can guess... by Barbara Bassett - Apr 25, 99 (#50 of 113)
  • Okay, I went back and re-read what I was... by Barbara Bassett - Apr 25, 99 (#51 of 113)
  • I always have a loose plot, but really care more... by Sarah Holmesley - Apr 26, 99 (#52 of 113)
  • Dear old top, my characters took control of my... by Hugh Drummond - Apr 28, 99 (#53 of 113)
  • Sarah, I too, start with a loose outline format,... by Geri Davis - May 1, 99 (#54 of 113)
  • Hi Geri, I tried and tried to convince one of my... by Sarah Holmesley - May 5, 99 (#55 of 113)
  • Anyone who is utterly evil ought to be a darned... by Hugh Drummond - May 5, 99 (#56 of 113)
  • Ummmmm--ah, Hugh, have you ever been around... by Barbara Bassett - May 6, 99 (#57 of 113)
  • He will indeed... by Hugh Drummond - May 8, 99 (#58 of 113)
  • Hi Everyone, I was so happy to find this site... by June Shaw - May 31, 99 (#59 of 113)
  • In my opinion (though this might not count for... by Hugh Drummond - Jun 1, 99 (#60 of 113)
  • To June Shaw: Re woman in jeporady... by Jamie Frazell - Jun 2, 99 (#61 of 113)
  • To Jamie: Yes, the antagonist is part of the... by June Shaw - Jun 3, 99 (#62 of 113)
  • This is a great forum and I am thrilled that I... by Desi W - Jun 5, 99 (#63 of 113)
  • Hmmmmm... by Barbara Bassett - Jun 6, 99 (#64 of 113)
  • It's to do with working out the plot... by Hugh Drummond - Jun 8, 99 (#65 of 113)
  • I'm glad I found this intelligent and courteous... by John Desjarlais - Jun 10, 99 (#66 of 113)
  • Which is the fun part, isn't it?.. by Hugh Drummond - Jun 11, 99 (#67 of 113)
  • to june shaw: thanks for answering my question!.. by jamie frazell - Jun 13, 99 (#68 of 113)
  • What a great site!.. by schuyler kaufman - Jun 23, 99 (#69 of 113)
  • When I was 14, Now I'm 50 I started to write a... by Lizz Saubert - Jun 25, 99 (#70 of 113)
  • Mrs... by Cassie Burkhauser - Jul 16, 99 (#71 of 113)
  • Mr... by Cassie Burkhauser - Jul 18, 99 (#72 of 113)
  • Mr... by Cassie Burkhauser - Jul 19, 99 (#73 of 113)
  • have been trying to write some short stories but... by Conspiress - Sep 27, 99 (#74 of 113)
  • One way to find a short story plot is to scan the... by Hugh Drummond - Sep 28, 99 (#75 of 113)
  • C... by Steven Torres - Sep 28, 99 (#76 of 113)
  • Exactly!.. by Hugh Drummond - Sep 29, 99 (#77 of 113)
  • As to the topic of planned or spontaneous writing... by Theadosia - Oct 6, 99 (#78 of 113)
  • It is fun, isn't it?.. by Hugh Drummond - Oct 7, 99 (#79 of 113)
  • Does that really work, I find it quite boring to... by Cassie Burkhauser - Nov 27, 99 (#80 of 113)
  • Well, of course, the final version of the story... by Hugh Drummond - Nov 29, 99 (#81 of 113)
  • Hugh: I have the same problem, wondering how to... by Cynthia Riggs - Nov 29, 99 (#82 of 113)
  • Well, Doyle didn't actually report Holmes' death... by Hugh Drummond - Dec 2, 99 (#83 of 113)
  • Badly decomposed... by Cynthia Riggs - Dec 13, 99 (#84 of 113)
  • Sorry, maybe I forgot to say that the helicopter... by Hugh Drummond - Dec 16, 99 (#85 of 113)
  • Don't plot ahead, it's much more interesting... by Cynthia Riggs - Dec 23, 99 (#86 of 113)
  • LOL by Chantel Dawn Lyngstad - Dec 23, 99 (#87 of 113)
  • I find it necessary to plot ahead in detail... by John Desjarlais - Jan 3, 00 (#88 of 113)
  • ONgoing, not ingoing... by John Desjarlais - Jan 3, 00 (#89 of 113)
  • Now, I finished the first draft during the... by Hugh Drummond - Jan 9, 00 (#90 of 113)
  • I was in my third revision of my mystery novel... by Robert Wade - Apr 16, 00 (#91 of 113)
  • I don't know, I always figure out who done it... by Gwin Dahlia - Apr 17, 00 (#92 of 113)
  • Which occasionally works... by Hugh Drummond - May 3, 00 (#93 of 113)
  • I've never tried writing a mystery before,... by Michelle Durand - Oct 1, 00 (#94 of 113)
  • Hello Everyone1 I'm new here... by Jim Sedgwick - Jan 7, 01 (#95 of 113)
  • Hi everybody, I am new to writing and thought I... by Bryan Lemmon - Jan 13, 01 (#96 of 113)
  • Hi Bryan, That's a tough question... by Jim Sedgwick - Feb 2, 01 (#97 of 113)
  • I've completed short stories using several... by Bob Schneider - Jul 5, 01 (#98 of 113)
  • Can anyone give me some pointers how to start a... by nathan trone - Dec 29, 01 (#99 of 113)
  • How about "Chapter One"!!!!!.. by Fran Hinkel - Mar 7, 02 (#100 of 113)
  • you have to start with something you want to write... by Juanita Rose Violini - Mar 14, 02 (#101 of 113)
  • read all the messages here and i feel they have... by Iccha Sethi - Jun 29, 02 (#102 of 113)
  • Does any one have any ideas on how to turn of that... by Rayna Alam - Jul 3, 02 (#103 of 113)
  • Iccha - i think it depends on how creative you can... by Juanita Rose Violini - Jul 30, 02 (#104 of 113)
  • Good advice, Juanita. by Fran Hinkel - Aug 5, 02 (#105 of 113)
  • Thanks Fran - i'm so glad you're still here at... by Juanita Rose Violini - Aug 6, 02 (#106 of 113)
  • Nice to "see" old regulars isn't it?.. by Fran Hinkel - Aug 13, 02 (#107 of 113)
  • Hello everyone at this site... by Raven Franklin - Oct 10, 03 (#108 of 113)
  • Well there's a couple of tricks that usually work... by Juanita Rose Violini - Oct 11, 03 (#109 of 113)
  • Question: can you mix fantasty with mystery,... by Renegade Angel - May 2, 04 (#110 of 113)
  • what is stumping you particularly?.. by Juanita Rose Violini - May 6, 04 (#111 of 113)
  • Lucky Star!.. by Whispering Statue - Jun 24, 05 (#112 of 113)
  • Sorry I missed you, Whispering... by Fran Hinkel - Jan 4, 06 (#113 of 113)

     Read Subscriptions  Search  New User Registration  Login

     [F] Mystery Net Community  / Writing Mysteries  / Elements of a Mystery  / Working out the solution: before or during writing?