Sunday, March 19, 2017

How Soon Should a Murder Occur in a Mystery Novel?

How soon a murder should take place in a mystery novel depends on the type of novel being written.  In some mysteries, the murder occurs on the very first page or chapter, in others not until chapter six, and in still others…not at all.

The Traditional Mystery

In a traditional or Agatha Christie type novel, the murder usually occurs very early. Sometimes the book opens with a murder on the first page.  Traditionally the murder should take place in the first chapter unless there is some strong reason why it must be delayed.   If there is going to be a murder in the book, as a rule of thumb, it should at least happen before chapter six.  This is because the crime must be introduced early enough to center the book around it.

 It is important that the murder occur early in this type of book, for this kind of novel centers around “whodunit”.  The victim is already dead and the detective must sort through suspects and clues to find out who killed the victim. 

The Suspense or Thriller

A suspense or thriller may start with a threat rather than a murder.  This may be a missing person, a kidnapping, or other threat of some kind.  The murder may occur much later in the book.

 In this type of book, the intended victim may not be the person who winds up getting killed.  Or in some instances the villain is thwarted before anyone gets killed.  But quite a bit of excitement is generated through chases and narrow misses.

The No-Murder Mystery

Some mysteries center around a crime other than murder.  These books may involve a theft instead, such as the stealing of a bag of diamonds or some other treasure.  The mystery revolves around who took the valuables, and not who committed murder.

Another instance of a mystery where no actual murder may occur is in the case of a kidnapped pet or some such crime that doesn’t involve a human victim.  The pet is usually returned safely, and the mystery is solved without undue violence.

There is no set answer as to when a murder should take place in a mystery.  The genres have blended so that a murder in the first chapter is not always the norm.  No matter what the sub-genre, a mystery must start with some kind of action to draw the reader in.  If not a murder, it is essential that an event such as a theft, missing person, or other exciting event must be introduced in the first chapter. 

For more writing tips, check out our nonfiction books on writing and writing mysteries.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Read an Ebook Month March 99c Sales!

Enjoy mysteries? This month we have  two new  99c sales going on!  One for now and one for later.  A  mystery/romance and a High Country Mystery.

Read our most popular mystery/romance The Vanished Lady for only 99c through March 16th.   This book is one of our standalone mystery romances set in Colorado.  

Dana Lawrence doesn’t imagine when she buys the quaint Victorian house in the remote mountains of Colorado that her life will soon be in danger. She has heard the legend of Lelia Glenn and how she vanished in the 1800’s, but no one told her about the more recent disappearance of Amy Walden two years ago.
On the night of her arrival, Dana spies someone digging on her land. The sheriff tells her that on the day Amy disappeared Glenndale’s jewelry store was robbed. Amy’s boyfriend, Donnie Thorpe, is still on the run, and his accomplice, Jed Hoyt, has just been released from prison. Bennett believes a third party masterminded the robbery--her handsome neighbor, Logan Rand.
While Dana tries to beat the thieves to the stolen goods, she uncovers a grave. Threats and attempts on her life follow in rapid succession. Dana must identify the killer before she becomes the next vanished lady.

The Executioner's Hood will be 99c from March 17 through the 24th.  This book is part of our Jeff McQuede High Country Mystery Series.  (each book is a complete story so you don't have to start with the first one unless you want to.)

The Executioner's Hood 99c March 17-24th

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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Tips For Writing the Perfect Ending

 Every story deserves a good, satisfying ending.  But what elements make up a memorable ending?

The Hero should Solve his Own Problem

The resolution of the novel should logical and should, at least in part, be brought about by the hero (or heroine's) quick wit, thinking or reaction.  It is unfair to the reader to have the problem solved too easily, or by chance or circumstance.  For example, if the hero is in a shootout with the bad guy, it would be disappointing if a brick suddenly fell from an overhead building and instantly killed the bad guy for him.  This would certainly make the hero’s day and solve his problem, but it is unsatisfying because the hero has done nothing toward saving his own life. It would be much better if the hero had made a plan in advance, perhaps rigged the brick so that it would fall, then lured the bad guy over to the spot where it will land. In any event, the hero should use his wits in some way to save his own life.  His actions should make sense and be products of his own logic, not fate.

Resolve any Subplot

By the end of the book, any subplots, such as romantic subplots, should be resolved.  If the hero has a fight with his girlfriend, do they reconcile or are they forever estranged?  Other subplots that should be resolved by the end of the book are conflicts with family members or major life decisions.  Readers are interested in even small details about the hero or heroine.  For example, in your novel the heroine might be looking for a new house to buy.  This may be only a minor aside, yet the reader wants to know and will be disappointed if the heroine has not found and purchased her little cottage by the sea by the end of the book.  Keep the subplots hanging until the end of the book, but not indefinitely.

Tie up all Loose Ends

“And they lived happily ever after.”  It is customary for a novel, especially a genre novel, to have a happy ending, or end on a positive note.  The ending is usually a time to assure the reader that all the wrongs have been righted.

However, a book does not absolutely have to have a happy ending. In fact, some of the greatest novels of literature end on an unhappy note.  If your book does not have a happy conclusion, then it must be in some way satisfying.  The hero must have grown or learned some valuable truth about himself.  By the end of the book, the problem that plagued the hero should be resolved, one way or another.  The hero should either be on his way to a happier life or have in some way come to terms with, and be at peace with, the decisions he has made. 

End with a Strong Sentence

The ending is a good place to provide a kind of closure.  What has the hero learned (or not learned) about himself?  Has this experience made the hero a better person in some way? If possible, end with a deep thought or emotion

In A Tale of Two Cities, when Sydney Carton commits the noble act of dying in another man’s place, the words "it is a far, far better thing I do than I have ever done, it is a far, far better rest I go to than I have ever known,” will stay with the reader long after the pages have closed.  And who can forget the ending line of Gone with the Wind, when Scarlett O’Hara pronounces, “After all, tomorrow is another day!”

Tips for making a good ending:

*make sure the ending is logical
*the hero should solve his own problem
*resolve any subplot
*tie up all loose ends
*leave the reader with a strong sentence, thought or emotion

For more writing tips click: