Mystery Suspense. It’s the Thrill. It’s the Adventure.

I’ve completed two novels, Inspirational Romance and Mystery Suspense and have written several books in different stages, with plans to finish. At present I’m writing a second Mystery Suspense.

Mysteries have five categories. They are: Police Procedural, Private Investigator, Historical, Professional and Amateur Sleuth. My Mystery is written with a Female Private Investigator leading the story.

Story ideas develop from reading newspapers, watching local and national news. Television shows and movies enrich my stories for subplots, dialogue, character traits, etc. Brainstorming and plotting creates a believable story, capturing my interest or the Thrill, as I call it.

Usually the story appears before me as a movie in my head. I begin typing many scenes as they are happening. First chapter should introduce the Villain, the Victim and the Detective. Keeping the reader hooked, wanting to read more. Suspense builds surprises with descriptive points to further the story along.

Mystery websites, author’s links and self-help books are great for research. One of my favorites is that has many other links to go check out. Finding pictures makes characters and places come to life. Giving me the advantage to feel like I’ve been there, when I can’t have the opportunity to travel.

Writing an excellent story begins with a first draft, then write, write, rewrite, rewrite. The story will begin to take shape in a real mystery suspense setting. Everyone will want to read it. I’ve shared a few writing techniques I use when creating my mysteries. There’s so much more to writing and completing a novel, this leaves room for further conversation in a later blog.

I believe if you want to publish you will. It’s not all being talented in the craft. Persistence, determination and thinking like a professional are the key to success. Critique partners have played a vital role in my writing career. Discussion about my book with my fellow writers has been encouragement for my novel to be the best it can be.

- Sharon


Joan Vincent said...

Great information Sharon and the photo started a brew of potential plot lines. You are aso right about write and rewrite and do it again; and also about perserverance being extremely if not most important in pursuing publication.

I read Dorothy Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey, P D James' Dagleisch, Elizabeth George's Lynley. Then there is Dianne Mott Davidson's caterer Goldy and Laura Child's tea shop mysteries. What mystery writers do you enjoy

Becky A said...

Great info Sharon but now I need more! I thought Mystery and Suspense were two different types of book. Are they actually the same? Also, can you explain a little about the differences in the five Mystery categories you listed? Thanks, Becky

Nina Sipes said...

I need more information too. I don't know whether I like mysteries or suspense either and then where do thrillers come in? You really opened up a lot of questions for me because I didn't think there were differences at ALL in mysteries, suspenses, or...wait, how about Gothics? Are they one of these? Does Gothic still exist?
I am in awe of anyone who can write a twisted plot line. I can't imagine what it takes to do that. Actually, what does it take to do that? Does the story get layered or do you think from the beginning why the victim is victimized? Good post to get us thinking.

Starla Kaye said...

Oh, Sharon, you opened up a can of worms, didn't you? Giving us just a hint of what mystery writing is about. Making us beg for more definitions. Great job! That's exactly what you were supposed to do.

snwriter52 said...

Hi Joan:
I like my photo too. It's the very first scene in my story. Of course my Detective is wearing a Halloween costume. :)
My reading list is long. I will just name a few. James Patterson is my favorite. I'll read anything his has written. Alex Cross series. The Women's Murder Club series.
Josephn Finder. Power Play kept me on the edge of my seat. A page turner for me. I plan to read Paranoia and Killer instinct. I've read many of Sue Grafton books. Catherine Coulter. Lisa Jackson. Larry Brooks Bait & Switch. Nora Roberts J.D. Robb series. Lieutenant Eve Dallas is a strong lady. I like this character alot.

Rox Delaney said...

Lots of good stuff, Sharon! I've always loved True Crime books, so reading suspense is right up my alley.

Carla Cassidy has several suspense novels. Maggie Shayne had an intriguing 3-book series about a girl who escaped from a cult during an incident similar to what happened in Waco, TX years ago.

I love books (and movies) that make me think. Trying to figure out whodonit or how the hero/heroine are going to get out alive is my idea of a good book. Throw in a little romance and nothing is better.

Rox Delaney said...

Let's not forget the now-defunct Bombshell line. I loved those kick-ass heroines and really miss reading them.

snwriter52 said...

Okay Ladies:
Reading a Mystery novel is like trying to solve a puzzle. Looking for the evidence. Solving who did the crime. Must be a murder and an investigation. It’s plot-driven with strong characters moving the story along.
Suspense is when the scene leaves the reader with anticipation. Wondering when the next shoe will drop. Adding different scenes of action and or clues to strengthen the story plot line along. This leads to an exciting novel keeping the reader on the edge of their seat.
Thriller is to experience or cause an intense sudden experience of joy, fear, excitement, etc. I just realized Lisa Jackson is considered a Thriller author.

The information for the five categories comes from a book called "How To Write & Market Your Mystery Novel" by Jean Hager.

Police procedural is everyday business. Police work at the precinct and in the field. Ed McBain’s 87th precinct novels might help you understand better.

Private Investigator can be a man or woman driving the plot along in pursuit of solving the murder.

Historical - history mysteries can take place anywhere around the world. Ranching from Rome to Medieval England. Do your homework. Research your place and time. Read everything you can about time area you want to write about. Authors for this line are Sharan Newman, Anne Perry and Lindsay Davis.

Professional is people who are not law enforcement officers. But their work puts them in with crime and criminals. Their line of work could be a lawyer or a crime reporter. Edna Buchanan writes this type of book.

Amateur Sleuth Agatha Christie’s Miss Maple fits this category. Their profession can be anything from librarian, to a janitor, teacher, etc. Authors are Carolyn Hart, Nancy Pickard to name a few.

Hope this helps. I'm learning as I write.

Rox Delaney said...

Thanks, Sharon, for explaining the distinctions between the sub-genres of Suspense.

So if I said Mystery is a whodonit, while Suspense is possibly knowing who the bad guy/gal is and trying to thwart/catch him/her, that might be close? Although sometimes I think some Suspence novels have whodonit thrown in, at least for a while, and sometimes there's that twist at the end where the bad guy/gal isn't who we expected it to be.

Wow. That all takes some doing!

Joan Vincent said...

Dallas and Roarke are fantastic. So are Monk and Hester & Charlotte and Pitt--I had forgotten Ann Perry for a moment. Then there's Elizabeth Peters and Ellis Peters. I'm going to have search out a few of your favorites and try them. It's always great to "discover" an author you love.

Do you have any "tricks" to increase suspense. The mystery/suspense in mine just seem to happen which is worrisome.

Penny Rader said...

Thanks for the explanations, Sharon. I haven't read James Patterson...yet. My daughter has quite a collection of his books.

And thanks for sharing a bit about your writing process. I sure wish my stories would run like movies in my head.

Unknown said...

Sharon: the types of mystery writing were new to me. Thank you for posting and teaching me (and fellow bloggers) the difference!

Jeannie said...

Oh, Sharon! Great post! Very informational. You did open a can of worms. :-)

I love reading mystery and suspense! And if they cross over into the supernatural, even better. As I said, I've read Barbara Michaels/Elizbeth Peters for years. I used to have her picture over my desk as an inspiration of someone I wanted to write like.

Gothics still exist, Nina, but they're few and far between. They've never enjoyed a return to the popularity they had before the late 1970's. Dorchester had a line a few years back called Candlelight that were classic gothics, but it went tits up. Turned out some pretty fair works, though. My favorite was THE SCARLETTI CURSE by Christine Feehan. I liked it a lot better than her vampires.

I've read, and still read, a lot of mystery and suspense. I love Anne Perry's Monk series. I thought he was never going to kiss that woman! And I really liked Lisa Gardner's THE PERFECT HUSBAND. Great edge of your seat read.

Of course for masterful suspense I have to mention Thomas Harris. THE RED DRAGON and SILENCE OF THE LAMBS are roller coaster rides of terror. You really want Will Graham and Clarice Starling to catch these crazy men and get rid of them so they can never torture or kill again. I have to say I wasn't as fond of HANIBAL and I haven't even read HANIBAL RISING, but that's because the first two were suspense novels and the last two were literary novels.

My mother loved mysteries, so I read Agatha Christie and Rex Stout. I always liked his Nero Wolfe stories, and it was cool that he was from Kansas. I read Erle Stanley Gardner, too. My favorite of his was a non-fiction book he wrote called SMALL TOWN DA that chronicles his misadventures as a district attorney in a small town.

My favorite Dame Agatha is an oddball one. It's called THE MYSTERIOUS MR. QUINN, and it crosses over into the realm of the supernatural because the detective who solves the murders is Death himself.

There's lots of great reading in the mystery and suspense category of romance. Thanks, Sharon, for introducing it!

snwriter52 said...

Great information you've shared. I forgot about Lisa Gardner.
Yes. For me it's the adrenaline. I put the idea in the characters head. Then I begin typing. They do the rest.
Thanks Jeannie.