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

Working out the solution: before or during writing?
John Tanking - 08:24pm 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.

Previous MessagesEarliest MessagesOutlineRecent Messages (103 previous messages)
Juanita Rose Violini - 09:13am Jul 30, 2002 PST(#104 of 113)

Iccha - i think it depends on how creative you can be in that format so that the layout will entice the reader as well as the mystery

Rayna - Shot her !!!! - or devise some other vile means of doing away with a saboteur - let your desire to be rid of her fuel your creative juices rather than putting your attention on letting her stop you

Fran Hinkel - 11:04am Aug 5, 2002 PST(#105 of 113)
You can check out anytime you like...but you can never leave!

Good advice, Juanita.

Juanita Rose Violini - 02:52pm Aug 6, 2002 PST(#106 of 113)

Thanks Fran - i'm so glad you're still here at mysterynet

Fran Hinkel - 07:48am Aug 13, 2002 PST(#107 of 113)
You can check out anytime you like...but you can never leave!

Nice to "see" old regulars isn't it? Yeah, I am still around and working for the site now as Community Coordinator. I don't get as much posting time as I used to though, but it is still my favorite spot on the internet!

Raven Franklin - 08:21pm Oct 10, 2003 PST(#108 of 113)

Hello everyone at this site. I've been writing along time but I do not have staying power. I've decided to try again--What do you think?

Juanita Rose Violini - 08:58am Oct 11, 2003 PST(#109 of 113)

Well there's a couple of tricks that usually work for me. Especially a combination of them.

First is that if I am having resistance to something, I commit to working on it five times a week. Even if it's only for five minutes a day though I usually tell myself fifteen minutes. That's such a small amount of time that it's hard finding excuses not too. If fifteen seems overwhelming then I will break it into five minute segments - which I can find absolutely no excuse to avoid.

Another thing is to write or work on something that I like. Rather than try and build a story chronologically I will write on whatever character or scene holds the most juice for me when I sit down to work.

Or you could try working backwards. Sometimes it's hard to go forward, especially if you aren't exactly sure where you are headed but if you pick an ending and work back from there, it turns out to be like a maze, which for some reason seems easier if i start at the finish.

The five/fifteen minute solution works because the hardest part is often just sitting down. Once you have begun it isn't nearly so hard to continue. Equally important is not to give yourself a hard time about it but to congradulate yourself on the steps that you do take and realize that everything happens in it's own time. Honor yourself and keep hold of your vision.

Renegade Angel - 09:18pm May 2, 2004 PST(#110 of 113)

Question: can you mix fantasty with mystery, 'cause I'm trying to mix with it for some time and it's not working... what should I do to make it work?

Juanita Rose Violini - 10:14am May 6, 2004 PST(#111 of 113)

what is stumping you particularly?

I'm of the belief (perhaps not a common one) that you can mix any genres you like provided that you play fair with the reader. This means that the 'rules' governing your story are presently clearly in the beginning and adhered to. No surprizes that come out of something that has not had the ground laid.

Whispering Statue - 12:38am Jun 24, 2005 PST(#112 of 113)

Lucky Star! So good to see you again! I truly miss the good old days of the add-ons, :) Rachel and I are still writing, lol, some things never change :)

John Tanking: To answer your question. If you want to just write for yourself and enjoy the process of writing then go for it. However, if you are looking at writing as a professional career, then I strongly encourage you into the good practice of creating an outline and doing all of the back writing BEFORE you write the mystery.

It is a well known fact that there is a beginning, a middle, and an end to a story and the usual place that a story falls apart is the middle because there is not enough twists, turns, and interesting filler to sustain it. The only way out of this, to keep your story from falling flat, is to plan all excitement out in advance. This is the "work" part of being a writer.

Like I say, if you aren't planning on publishing, then you can do anything you want. But if you expect to get it past an editor, then, my friend, structural planning is the only way.

Good luck!

Fran Hinkel - 06:17am Jan 4, 2006 PST(#113 of 113)
You can check out anytime you like...but you can never leave!

Sorry I missed you, Whispering. Why not try your hand at Create Your Own - we'd love to have a story from you!

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

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