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Tips

This page contains tips, tools of the trade, caveats, real-life experiences, and other "secrets" known by successful mystery authors.

Inspiring quotes

Writing is putting words on paper until the voices in your head shut up.
~Frank Fradella

Some sheets of paper don't really want anything typed on them. It's your job to get those papers out of your typewriter fast.
~Russell Baker

It's not the murder. It's the waiting for the murder.
~Kit Sloan, mystery writer

You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.
~Jack London

The sign of a rookie is, "But so-and-so does it this way." What matters is what you do.
~Denise Tiller, mystery writer

What gets in my way when I'm writing? I think the question really is, What doesn't?
~Claudia McCants, mystery writer

I have to think about whether I want to spend a year thinking about this [crime] or this kind of person.
Michael Connelly, mystery writer

Develop a "shout line." One sentence (66 syllables) that tells what your book is about.
~Caroline Scott

A cozy starts with the premise that the world is a place of order, temporarily put out of order. It's up to the sleuth to put it in order. Hard-boiled novels start with the premise that the world is in chaos, and the sleuth is a loner on the mean streets.
Rhys Bowen, mystery writer

Clues are physical evidence. Motive is not a clue.
~ Carol Wheat, writing teacher


Writing tips

Open your desk drawer. If it's filled with unfinished 50-page manuscripts, you need an outline.
~Purdy Taylor Board, mystery writer

Plot from the murderer's point of view and write from the detective's point of view.
~Erle Stanley Gardner, mystery writer

A good character has Humanity Humility Humor Heroism Honor Honesty Heart (passion and energy) Horse-sense
~Denise Tiller, mystery writer

Whoever has the most emotional involvement, the most at stake in a scene, gets the point of view.
~Beth Anderson, mystery and romance writer

Give your reader time to sink into one person's mind and experience what's going on there, before you yank them out and pull them into another mind.
~Beth Anderson, mystery and romance writer

Layers don't come from subplots, but from additional problems in the protagonist's life.
~Donald Maass, editor and writer


Thanks to Sharon Wildwind for compiling the above quotes.

 
"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please."
~ Mark Twain

 

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