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How is a Good Mystery Created?

How often have you read a good story and thought you could easily write one? Yet, if you sit down to a keyboard and give it a go you eventually discover it will take some work.  If you’re willing to put in the effort you just might come up with a passable book.

The elements of a good mystery aren’t always easy to spot (that’s why it’s called a good mystery, bwahahaaa!) but you know one if you read one.  See how well you know some of the necessary elements a whodunit needs in this bemusing quiz.

When you see how well you’ve done let us know in the comments below whether you’ve decided to write that book.

  • Every mystery needs a protagonist, one who is a…

    • Chief Character
    • Criminal Character
    • Crusading Character
  • Great mystery writers fashion protagonists readers will…

    • Scorn
    • Support
    • Suspect
  • Every mystery needs to make readers yearn to solve the puzzle.

    • True
    • False
    • Hmmm, not always.
  • The best mysteries may have many suspicious characters.

    • Yes, the more thrilling the better.
    • No, enervating readers is a no-no.
  • Red Herrings are used in mysteries to…

    • Help readers understand the story’s intrigue.
    • Guide readers in discovering the enigma.
    • Mislead readers about the resolution.
  • Dialogue in a mystery should…

    • Describe all character’s motives.
    • Shroud an antagonist’s validity.
    • Provide stress in a story’s thread.
  • Descriptive phrases should be used sparingly in mysteries.

    • True
    • False
    • Only in both the opening and closing chapters.
  • Choose the best way to increase tension from the following:

    • Concoct a new setting.
    • Confound a character.
    • Describe a murder scene.
    • Discover who lied.
  • Persuading readers they know the whodunit before the end of a mystery is a bad idea.

    • True
    • False
  • Plots in a mystery must always be believable.

    • Yes
    • No
  • The best way to hook a reader is to introduce the mystery’s question early in the book.

    • Absolutely in the first quarter.
    • Never before the middle.
    • Depends only on the genre.
  • Do most mystery readers accept any sort of crime in a book?

    • Yes
    • No
  • What is the primary reason clues need to reflect those that a real life detective would use?

    • It helps readers in their journey to discover the whodunit.
    • It helps readers follow the storyline.
    • It helps readers find satisfaction in the story.
  • Which of the following is a huge mistake for mystery writers?

    • Not understanding that readers need every detail to follow the storyline.
    • Not understanding that readers want to work out the secret for themselves.
    • Not understanding that readers love having conflict interpreted.

What do you think?

20 points

Written by robertatalloni

Thankful to know that life is less about where I've been and more about where I'm going... John 10:10

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