October 14, 2013
Today’s Writers’ Tips
THE RIDDLE or MYSTERY Fiction Plots
Continuing our study of fiction plots, we’ll look at plot number 7 today: riddle or mystery. If you’re a mystery writer, and a successful published one, I’m sure you have mastered the “tricks of the trade.” Writing a riddle or mystery has certain characteristics different from “regular” writing. So, let’s have a look at the important points needed in a good mystery:
PLOT # 7:
THE RIDDLE OR MYSTERY
The Maltese Falcon
The Lady or the Tiger
The Man Who Knew Too Much
Murder, She Wrote
- The core of your riddle should be in clever writing: hide that which is in plain sight.
- The tension of your riddle should come from the conflict between what happens as opposed to what seems to have happened.
- The riddle challenges the reader to solve it before the protagonist does. (And readers love this.)
- The answer to your riddle should always be in plain view without being obvious. (And that’s a “trick.”)
- The first dramatic phase should consist of the generalities of the riddle (persons, places, events).
- The second dramatic phase should consist of the specifics of the riddle (how persons, places, and events relate to each other in detail).
- The third dramatic phase should consist of the riddle’s solution, explaining the motives of the antagonist(s), and the real sequence of events (as opposed to what seemed to have happened).
- Write to a specific audience, i.e. age, sex, etc.
- Choose between an open-ended and a close-ended structure. (Open-ended riddles have no clear answer; close-ended ones do.)
So, there you have it. If you’ve never tackled a mystery, maybe now you’ll be brave enough to try one. And the mystery to solve is CAN YOU DO IT?
Next time, we’ll look at plot # 8: RIVALRY
All information compliments of:
Tobias, Ronald B (2011-12-15). 20 Master Plots (p. 189). F+W Media, Inc. Kindle Edition.
(I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in writing good fiction in any subgenre!”)
P.S. If you have any kids from 10 to 14, they’d probably love my mystery with a secret code that has to be cracked to find the Civil War coins:
THE SECRET OF WOLF CANYON
When Woody, Moo, and Taz, sixth grade girls from Faith Christian School and the only members of the exclusive Pennsylvania Woods Super Sleuthhounds club, go to Garrett’s Gumshoe Getaway, a Christian junior detective training camp in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania, they get more than they bargain for.
Although Garrett Mitchell, retired state policeman and director of the camp, says that he has “planned” a mystery for the girls and nine other campers to solve, strange things start to happen that are not part of
• Are there “real” Civil War gold coins hidden somewhere at Wolf Canyon?
• Who stole Garrett’s horse?
• Who put the burrs under Woody’s saddle that made her horse buck?
• Who fired shots in the air to scare the sleuthers off the case?
Join Woody and her friends as they set out to solve a mystery that has stumped even the best detectives in the state.