What Happens Next?!

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Pointers for Puzzles

Mysteries are fun.

Whether you prefer a nice cozy mystery where there’s more kissing than crime or a more solid mystery where there’s murder at stake, and the main character is the only one who can solve the problem and save the day, mysteries can be an enjoyable genre to read it.

However, while reading a novel labeled ‘mystery’ might make your head pound as you try to figure out who was behind the evil deed, writing one will probably make you want to scream and chuck your manuscript in the trash about a thousand words in.

See, humans are inquisitive creatures. When something is off, we want to know why. Why is there blood on the carpet? Why was the door to his house wide open although he hadn’t been home all day? Every good mystery begins with some point of confusion.

You know the saying; curiosity killed the cat? Well, that s the perfect way to sum up how a good mystery should be written. Let’s pretend the cat is the detective. The detective in the story is going to get curious about something. Why was the man murdered? What happened to the missing cat? Then, he’s going to do a bit of snooping around.

He’s going to talk to some suspects, investigate the scene, and ultimately try to justify his suspicions and find out what really happened. But if that was all there was to a mystery it would probably be really boring to read. Perhaps you’ve picked up a novel like this before with an amazing cover, but a dull story inside.

Mysteries are indeed great, but the mystery alone can’t be what the story is made of. Remember that saying I mentioned earlier? “Curiosity KILLED the cat”, or basically, there must be some sort of danger attached to the detective’s nosy behavior.

For instance, which is more intriguing scene to read? One where a lady is chatting with her neighbor, asking him if he’s seen her missing dog, or a scene where a woman is sneaking around in the man’s backyard while he’s busy mowing his front lawn? The suspense comes from the fact that danger is lurking just around the corner and if your detective doesn’t move quickly enough, they’ll be discovered by the possible bad guy.

“But Danielle!” You say. “I’m writing a mystery book not a suspense novel!”


It actually doesn’t matter what kind of book you’re writing whether it’s horror or even romance. A good story keeps a reader on the edge of their seat, dying to know what happens next. In a romance the question is, “Will they fall in love?” or “Will they get their happily ever after?”, while a thriller might have to answer different questions like “Will he save the world?” or “In the end will they catch the villain?”

Mysteries are no different, which is why they’re so complex to right. Not only do you have to worry about keeping readers interested in their story, but a good mystery novelist also has to make sure that the mystery itself is plausible and easy to understand, but difficult to solve.

That said, it’s possible of course as various authors have succeeded in both keeping their reader’s attention and still giving them that satisfaction of “Aha, so that’s what happened!” So, to sum it all up, writing a good mystery requires more than just putting together a few clues and making sure everything is wrapped up with a nice bow.

A mystery also requires suspense that can be added to a story by raising the stakes and making sure a reader is invested in a story. Try to use experiences in your own life and if you have trouble trying to think of ways to make your book exciting, think about some of your own life experiences that had your heart beating fast.

Anyways, happy writing!


  • What Happens Next?!





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