Writing Mysteries: A Handbook by the Mystery Writers of America
|Author:||Sue Grafton, Jan Burke, Barry Zeman, Mystery Writers of America|
|Publisher:||Writer's Digest Books|
Writing mystery fiction can be a special kind of puzzle. In this new, revised edition of the Mystery Writers of America classic, Sue Grafton weaves the experience of today’s top mystery authors into a comprehensive mystery writing “how-to.” Writers will learn how to piece a perfect mystery together and create realistic stories that are taut, immediate and fraught with tension.
The book’s contributors include a “who’s who” of the mystery writing elite: Faye and Jonathan Kellerman on conducting accurate research; Michael Connelly on mastering characterization; Tony Hillerman on writing without an outline; Lawrence Block on overcoming writer’s block; Sara Paretsky on creating successful series characters; Tess Gerritson on writing the medical thriller; Ann Rule on the art of writing true crime. And many more!
The mystery, like other stories, relies on believable characters, a strong narrative, and crisp prose. But it is also “a way of examining the dark side of human nature,” says Writing Mysteries editor Sue Grafton. The book’s 37 contributors ponder everything from brainstorming ideas to dealing with editors. Jeremiah Healy jump-starts the book with a piece that considers the unwritten “rules” of mystery writing. Stuart Kaminsky discusses research—experts, it turns out, are just waiting for you to contact them—and Sandra Scoppettone discusses vivid villains. Sara Paretsky contemplates the pitfalls of using a recurring hero, and Michael Connelly contributes a fine piece on characterization. “The best crime novels,” Connelly says, “are not about how a detective works on a case; they are about how a case works on a detective.” Other chapters focus on amateur sleuths, convincing dialogue, depiction of violence, and specialty genres. The book’s short chapters form a sort of mystery writer’s antipasti plate. Some won’t resonate, while others will leave you wishing you had a larger serving. An ideal primer for mystery writers. —Jane Steinberg