July 31, 2012

delving into the mystery plot

Blogger's Note: Twenty-Nine and a Half Reasons author Denise Grover Swank gives insight into plotting a mystery novel. Read my review of the novel here. Read an excerpt here.

I’ve loved mysteries since I was a kid. I devoured Encyclopedia Brown mysteries, trying to figure out who did it before the big reveal. It was a test of my logic and my smarts to see if I could figure it out. (Sadly, I didn’t have enough or either back then.) So when I decided to do-or-die and write my first completed novel, it was only natural that I wrote a mystery of some kind. (It was a romantic suspense and it remains unpublished. You’re welcome.) The only problem. How did I write a mystery???

It was a daunting task, the layering of clues, the false leads, but the truth is, with my first mystery I just started writing it with some plot points I knew I need to hit. I’ve since learned the best place to start is at the end. I don’t actually write the end, but it’s helpful to know who did it before you start writing. Surprisingly enough, when I wrote Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes, the first Rose Gardner Mystery, I knew who did it, but I wasn’t sure why in the beginning.

I don’t recommend this.

For one thing, it was stressful. Trust me, I have enough stress in my life without adding to it. So I spent a good portion of the book working it out as I wrote. Then going back and fixing it to make it work.

When I wrote Twenty-Nine and a Half Reasons, I decided to make it easier on myself. I knew who did it and marked out places along the way I planned to reveal clues. My plan worked brilliantly, but I still wasn’t done. Part of writing a mystery is trying to trick your reader. You throw out fake leads and clues. You want to distract them from who really did it. These are the fine nuances that come later.

Writing a mystery for me is really about layering. You lay your foundation of bigger clues and then layer and layer smaller clues and hints until you have this finished pile of bones and... oh wait. Wrong kind of book.

About the Author
Denise Grover Swank lives in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. She has six children, three dogs, and an overactive imagination. She can be found dancing in her kitchen with her children, reading or writing her next book. You will rarely find her cleaning.

You can find out more about Denise and her other books at www.denisegroverswank.com or email her at denisegroverswank@gmail.com.

Contact the Author

Buy the Book
Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Twenty-Nine-Reasons-Gardner-Mystery-ebook/dp/B008FBXF4E/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1341974412&sr=1-1&keywords=twenty+nine+and+a+half+reasons
Barnes & Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/twenty-nine-and-a-half-reasons-denise-grover-swank/1111829183?ean=2940014641968

Receive Change the Word's latest updates in your Inbox. Subscribe by entering your information under "Follow by email" in the sidebar. Follow me on Twitter @lmchap or "Like" Change the Word on Facebook.