Mystery Story Template – 7 Steps to Writing a Great Mystery

Last Updated on January 15, 2023 by Dr Sharon Baisil MD

If you’re a fan of crime novels, detective stories, or even just mysteries in general, you know that it’s not easy writing one. Amongst the most challenging forms to write well are mystery books. They require a skill set far beyond the typical writing process. This article will cover seven steps that will help you create a memorable mystery tale. These tips will help you get closer to your dream project, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced writer.

What is a mystery story?

The protagonist in a mystery narrative is on a mission to discover who committed a crime. A mystery is a type of plot that revolves around the antagonist’s identity, which is revealed only after the tale. Readers are invited to participate in the mystery by mystery writers who drop clues throughout the story. A murder mystery book is a subgenre of crime fiction or detective fiction.

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7 steps to writing a great mystery

An excellent mystery book will capture readers’ attention with intriguing characters, complicated turns, and a witty trail of evidence. Of course, you aren’t going to get this formula for creating a blockbuster like Gone Girl. Yet, we’ll assist you in putting on your deerstalker, picking up your magnifying glass, and solving the mystery building code in this position!

Step 1: Explore subgenres

What sort of mystery do you want to write? You may already know. Before starting, however, it is still recommended that you read a variety of mystery novels to get a good understanding of the genre. There are different mystery genres, such as cozy mysteries, police procedurals, noir detective novels, and suspense.

Step 2: Know the crime scene beforehand

You’ll need to know your crime and its perpetrator inside out before you put pen to paper if you want to build anticipation effectively and keep your readers interested.

Consider both who committed the crime and how and why they did it as part of your investigation. Is there anything weird about their approach or specific facts you may add that will give your tale texture — for example, the lingering odor left behind by a specific real-world poison or the weird wounds created by an unusual weapon?

By drawing out and investigating your crime, you can consider telltale signs left behind and when it is ideal to disclose them to your readers. After you’ve finished your work, erase your browser history.

Step 3: Choose your setting with a goal in mind

The setting is the most essential part of the mystery, and it plays a crucial function in the story by creating the right atmosphere. To execute this well, research is required. Local news sites should present what matters to residents in an area, their challenges, and what is interesting about their neighborhood. In a scenario like this one, you’ll learn more about what might happen, giving your mystery more depth and realism.

Step 4: Craft an exciting list of characters

To create an engaging cast of characters, mysteries are primarily about human intrigue. If you spend some time developing your victim, perpetrator, suspects, and sleuth, you’ll have more success getting people interested in solving your mystery.

You’ll have to figure out their motivation before you can create a murderous culprit. This character and their motivation for breaking the law have to be realistic for your entire plot to work! Because your wrongdoer can’t be the only possible offender if there’s going to be a mystery. Readers are given a variety of options and must eliminate them one by one as new facts emerge, much like a real detective would do in a case.

Step 5: Create tension during the scenes

The push-and-pull between question and answer is at the heart of any good mystery. Your responsibility as the author is to capture the reader’s attention to the relevant information at precisely the right time. 

Nailing your story structure is the best way to guarantee it! By expertly planning your book’s movement from the unknown to the known, you’ll create the intriguing rise in action that all great mystery books have.

Mysteries are especially fruitful grounds for first-rate hooks, and each story should begin with a fantastic opening line. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all way to promote your suspense novel. Yet, to captivate readers’ attention, try to create an opener that a) shocks readers into paying attention, b) piques their curiosity by asking further questions, and c) introduces some stakes (conflict, danger).

Your hook has worked! You’ve captured the attention of readers. You’ll now have to structure your narrative around the hints to your mystery’s solution to keep them interested. 

Step 6: Check for red herrings.

You might assume red herrings would cause frustration because they lead the reader down a garden path away from the truth. However, they’re enjoyable when performed well, and they’ve been a classic murder mystery plot device for a long time. Even if it’s a dead end, red herrings raise the stakes and speed of a mystery tale. They’re what gives the genre its trademark push-and-pull.

Ultimately, keep in mind that being fair with your mystery’s conclusion is critical. Don’t blow the last surprise by suddenly tossing in an evil twin! Make sure to build it up first. The outcome should be unexpected and earned if you want to satisfy readers.

Step 7: Revise your mystery story

You should celebrate with party poppers and champagne after completing your first draft, but then it’s time to make it into a fantastic mystery! Take the plunge and send your work out into the world, which is to say, the world of beta readers, after you’ve taken the time to self-edit it.

A genuine, third-party critique comes from beta readers, individuals who read your work. They can point out any holes in the plot, tell you who they related with and didn’t, and advise you on any other problems you’ve lost sight of.

Expressing recommendations from an experienced mystery editor who eats, sleeps, and breathes these books will be difficult even for the most brilliant beta readers.

Final Words

Mystery genres are prevalent among readers. The quality of the story may ruin the reader’s experience. As a result, a decent mystery story that keeps readers interested till the finish is crucial.

In this post, we reviewed how to craft an engaging mystery novel based on the seven steps mentioned above. These techniques can be applied when writing any genre, but they may work better if you write in the mystery category because it requires more creativity and clues than other genres.

If you want to write a great book that keeps your readers turning pages late into the night, try following these tips carefully and see what happens!


How do you structure a mystery story?

Structure your mystery story in a way that will keep the reader engaged and guessing. Begin by setting up your scene, introducing the main characters, and revealing enough information to whet their appetites but not too much to give away the solution. Next, introduce suspenseful elements until the climax of the story, when everything is revealed. Make sure that all loose ends are tied up neatly before you let your readers go – leaving them wanting more!

An excellent mystery should have five elements; what are they?

A good mystery requires a well-drawn-out plot, interesting and likable characters, surprise twists and turns, and a satisfying ending. Additionally, the period should be authentic in the setting. This can range from historical settings to contemporary scenes.
It’s also important to create believable environments with accurate detail so that the reader feels as if they are right there in the story with the protagonist(s). Finally, effective writing relies on suspenseful pacing and compelling dialogue that draws readers into the story. A wonderful experience is created by combining all of these elements!

What should be focused on while writing a book?

Writing a book can be an enriching experience, but it is essential to remember that it takes time and effort to create a quality manuscript. Here are some essential tips to follow while writing your book:
1) Come up with an original idea – When you start brainstorming ideas for your book, make sure that the concept is unique and not already being explored. If you’re unsure of where to begin, consider reading other books in the same genre as yours or researching current trends in your field.
2) Craft engaging storylines – Your readers will want to keep turning pages because they want answers to questions, and suspenseful events must be played out entirely for them not to feel cheated by the novel’s end. As a writer, strive for dialogue that sounds like real life instead of stilted prose littered with awkward pauses and sound effects. Remember that most people read from left to right, so write your sentences accordingly!
3) Enrich characters with relatable traits – People are drawn toward stories about likable protagonists who make errors but learn from them–this is why developing well-rounded characters is essential when writing any type of fiction.


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