Occasionally I enjoy watching Unsolved mysteries or Cold Case. Not for the fact that no one has been brought to justice, but merely for the fact that it gets my juices flowing as a writer. I may be able to see things others might not have. I can actually put the “What If,” question to good use.
What If we tried writing from two different aspects.
ONE: Know who the criminal is before you begin writing. Place your clues and red herrings exactly where they need to be or where you ultimately feel they should go.
TWO: Try writing the same story without knowing who exactly you want the murderer to be. Give each character a motive for murder. They each should have the opportunity. At the climax point, if you haven’t chose who the murder is, just choose one.
Does it have to be true in all mysteries that there is a formula we should follow as writers?
Suspect + detective solves the case + killing your victim in the first 3rd of the story
Can we as writers dare to break the rules?
A mystery, in simple terms, is a story about the disruption of the social order.
It isn’t just about social order, it’s also about the exploration and presumably, the restoration of the psychological tension we create.
No matter where our mystery takes us, remember that the context of mutual suspicion or misdirected motives are pivotal. It will keep the suspense mounting. We want to convince ce our readers that anyone could have done it!