It's the return of Mystery Monday! Welcome back to our somewhat regular, lately erratic, Monday feature! On Mystery Monday you'll (generally) find different kinds of writing prompts and exercises to help build your mystery-writing muscles.
Shh..... Lately we've been thinking about SECRETS. Secrets are the driving force behind a mystery. Your characters' secrets can explain their motives for committing or solving a crime. Secrets are something the writer has to figure out fast, if not before starting the story then pretty early in the drafting process.
Secrets might be deep-seated fears. They might be bad decisions in the past, or involve people they have wronged. They might be colossal screw-ups. Or even past crimes that involve some kind of cover-up.
Here are some questions to think about whether you're planning a mystery or stuck somewhere in one. We recommend having your characters answer these questions in their own words, writing freehand in a journal or in a separate Word doc on your computer:
1. What are (or were) the victim's secrets? How long has he/she been keeping a secret? From whom? Why? What would happen if the secret got out?
2. What are the villain's secrets? How long has he/she been keeping a secret? From whom? Why? What would happen if the secret got out?
3. What are the sleuth's secrets? How long has he/she been keeping a secret? From whom? Why? What would happen if the secret got out? How has this secret affected his/her ability to get involved in this mystery?
What are some great secrets you've come across in mysteries you've read? We'd love to see some examples in the comments section!
We'll leave you today with a picture of two of our sleuths on location . . . here are Elisa Ludwig and Diana Renn at a book signing in Chatham, MA this weekend. They were spotted at a bookstore called Where the Sidewalk Ends. (By the way, where DOES the sidewalk end? Or is that a secret?)