Wednesday, April 04, 2007

News: Clues to Writing a Mystery

, in a new column in The Providence Journal, writes about writing. Mystery writing to be specific. Writing is not alchemy, he says; it’s more like carpentry. He’ll try to demystify the process by speaking regularly to the best writers in the mystery field to get their tips on storytelling, creating compelling characters, spinning a narrative, and breaking into the business of mystery fiction.

It all starts with an idea, and Arsenault consults with one of the best and most prolific in the business: . Tapply says he starts with a subject, for example, blackmail. His first task: identify the villain and the victim. Who blackmails whom? Tapply will brainstorm, playing the game: What if? “What if this is 20 years later and it’s her son who found out about it?” he says. “I play out this whole scenario until I have all the details of what happened.”

Tapply calls this the "first story", what happens before the detective gets involved. He then writes a detailed summary that contains clues. “There comes a point for me when a kind of critical mass arrives and I find it’s time to start writing the novel," Tapply says. "Then it’s still a process of discovery because lots of things I thought would happen don’t, and things I never imagined do. But that underlying story remains the same. Sometimes I end up with a different villain. But that process of figuring out what happened — once I got it, I feel confident I can write the story. I have a road map and I don’t feel I’m going to get stuck in the middle.”

Read the rest of the article on here. And we look forward to the next entry in what promises to be a very enlightening newspaper column.

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