Mystery Genre A mystery is a problem or puzzle to solve.
Elements of a Mystery Characters, Setting, Mood, Mysterious Circumstance-Plot, Clues, Red Herring, Motive, Resolution to the Mystery
Characters • Suspect: person(s) who is suspected as the perpetrator of the crime or devious deed. • Accomplices: person(s) who help the criminal enact the crime. • Victim: person who suffers from the crime. • Witness: person who saw the crime committed. • Detective:person who investigates crime.
Exposition • As in every narrative, a mystery begins with the exposition of the story. The exposition introduces the setting and characters, as well as, gives any needed background information about the characters, etc. • Setting: place and time where the mysterious event occurs. • Mood: many times the mood is set by the setting, but mood can also be set by dialogue or word choice.
Plot/Plot Line • The plot is the action in the story, or the sequence of events that occur. A mystery typically begins with the mysterious event which sets the story into motion. Solving the mystery is the conflict. • 1) Exposition – Introduce characters, setting, and background information. • 2) Rising Action – introduce the conflict (mystery) and the story unfolds as the investigation is underway. You will include at least 3 clues to identify the suspect(s), but you will also include at least 2 red herrings which will lead your reader to think the perpetrator is another character. • 3) Climax - You will reveal the flaw in the suspect’s story which allows the detective to solve the mystery. • 4) Falling Action - you will explain how the crime was committed and how the clues work together to resolve the mystery. • 5) Resolution – you will tie up loose ends and show how the characters lives are changed after the mystery is resolved.
Clues/Red Herring • Clues – information that helps the reader resolve the mystery. • Red Herring – A false lead that throws the investigation off track. • A red herring makes it appear that one of your suspects is the criminal when it was actually somebody else.
Crime/Alibi/Evidence • Crime – an act that is against the law • Alibi – an excuse that a suspect uses that he or she was somewhere other than at the scene of the crime when the crime was committed. • Evidence – something that helps prove who committed the crime
Point of View/Dialogue • Point of View: pick the voice—first person, third person • Even if you choose first person, your dialogue will still be in third person. • Remember the rules of dialogue: you begin a new paragraph every time the speaker changes and you capitalize the first letter of every direct quote. • Example: “Get up! Hurry! The house is on fire!” screamed mom. “What, what’s the matter?” I mumbled sleepily. “Wake up! This is a real emergency,” mom said tearfully.
Developing characters • Every great story has well rounded characters. We read fiction because we want to be entertained and develop a connection with the characters. Outlining items such as personality traits, physical features, and quirks can help bring your characters to life. • Protagonist - Decide the name, age, occupation. Where does he/she live? Does he/she have a family or pets? What is his/her driving goal? • Antagonist - Decide the name, age, location where he/she lives. Is there an underlying reason for being the antagonist? • Support Characters - Support characters are the color of the story. They provide depth to the story whether good or bad. A support character could be as simple as a loud mouth hot dog vendor standing on a street corner or as in-depth as the villain's partner in crime. In writing a mystery story, support characters can take on a life of their own with the reader, so make them interesting.
Suspense • One of the most important elements of writing a mystery story is suspense. Giving away too much too soon will bore the reader. It is best if the suspense is sprinkled throughout the story; bring the mystery to light early in the story, then as the story progresses add a clue here and there without revealing the outcome until the climax. Do not be afraid to add a "red herring" (false clue) within the stories context. Readers love nothing better than to think they have everything figured out only to find in the end they were mistaken the entire time.
Climax • The climax of the story is typically toward the end (3/4 of the way through the story) which includes the flaw that allows the detective to solve the mystery. • Following the Climax, you must explain how all of the clues scattered throughout the story accumulate to solve the mystery.
Resolution/Conclusion • A good conclusion gives the reader a sense of closure in finding out how the hero solved the mystery. It ties up all loose ends and does not leave the reader with any questions. • In mystery story writing, the possibilities are only limited by your imagination.