You have the germ of an idea, a story to write. But you aren't sure how to go about fleshing it out. How do you get your hero out of your mind and onto paper, solving the mystery you've come up with?
One way to flesh out an idea is to ask yourself questions about your character and story to get a better feel for where you want to go. It's called brainstorming and it is a technique used by a lot of writers today. Here are some questions you can ask yourself about your mystery story.
1. Who dies and how? Or, if not a murder, WHAT is the focus of the mystery? You need to have a clear idea of what you want to write. A murder story is told differently than a straight mystery. If you are going to write the murder mystery, be sure you understand the crime-solving procedures of the police, how criminals act and think, and who you plan to have solved the crime. If it's a mystery, make sure you know what the goal is for your hero/heroine. Understand why they want to find/solve their mystery. Are they compelled to do so because of outside elements? Or is this a personal quest that they have no choice to do?
2. How is the body found-or what is found? How? Why? By whom? Under what circumstances? Is the hero/heroine the detective, or are they an ordinary person thrown into this problem against their will?
3. What clues will you need to plant and who will find/notice them? Your detective? The reader? You'll need to keep track of the clues, what they are, where they came from, and why they are important. It's always annoying to have a clue be given on page four and then never be mentioned again, even at the end when the hero/heroine is explaining how they solved the crime. Or to have a seemingly important clue suddenly, without warning or reason, become unimportant. Also, be sure that your red herrings - clues that misdirect the hero/heroine from achieving their goals - make some sense and aren't just thrown in willy nilly! They should make the main characters go in the opposite direction from the solution, even if only for a moment.
4. Scenes of interrogation: Who asks the questions? Who answers-and why or why not? Is your hero a police detective, a private detective, or just your average citizen who has a talent for solving crimes? No matter which one you choose, you must give them the abilities, and desire, to continue their quest. And, if they are an ordinary citizen, why would the person they are questioning even talk to them?
5. Scenes of confrontation: who fights? Why? What motive will this give the character involved? Who, if anyone, overhears the confrontation? Give your characters the passion and desire to complete their task. Give them people who want to stop them, for whatever reason. Make sure these two meet, as often as needed to move the story along. Build their confrontations slowly, making both sides up the ante until the rewards for winning are the only thing that matters.
Writing a great mystery takes patience, understanding of the criminal process and a desire to confound your reader until solving your mystery is the only thing on their minds. Being prepared is the best way to make your story happen.
Dawn Arkin is an author on http://www.Writing.Com/ which is a site for Writers . Her portfolio can be found at http://www.Writing.Com/authors/darkin so stop by and read for a while.