Recently, I attended the Public Safety Writers Association's conference where the most wonderful award winning mystery author, Betty Webb, was a keynote speaker and also gave us some marvelous mystery writing tips.
Betty told us how not to begin a mystery novel as well as how to do it. A couple of the how not to begin were with the weather and a dream.
The first page of the novel is a promise to the reader. It should have action, action, action--a crisis not of the main character's own making, and he or she should solve the problem him or herself. The first page better be the best possible.
She said there are two elements to a story: style and structure.
She suggested having a dead body on the first page and another in the middle. It is a good idea to have the detective or sleuth be the one to discover the body.
Tension should build on every page.
A strong arc of action is what sells a book.
Only use one or two sentences for back story.
Another tip was to circle all the "was" or "ing" words and replace with active words.
And the last: “Good books are not written but rewritten.”
Betty told us she writes eight hours a day nearly every day. No wonder she's an award winning writer.
I read her latest Lena Jones mystery, Desert Cut and it's very dark but definitely a page-turner. After that I read the first in her zoo mysteries, Anteater of Death, a totally different type of book, might be considered a cozy though I thought it had more depth than most cozies.
To learn more about the dark Lena Jones mysteries, go to her website.
For the funny Gunn Zoo mysteries, click here. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Marilyn Meredith is the author of over twenty-five published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the latest Kindred Spirits from Mundania Press. Under the name of F. M. Meredith she writes the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series; No Sanctuary is the newest from Oak Tree Press.