Thursday, September 17, 2009

Adding reality to mystery by Vivian Zabel

As a mystery/suspense writer myself, I want to make my books as believable as possible. I've read magazines, online, and books to learn how others write, for material to use, and to add to my knowledge. I attended workshops, clinics, and workshops for over 30 years.

Perhaps some the methods I've found that help me might help others who write mysteries, suspense, thrillers, and/or detective stories and books.

My first mystery/suspense novel, which came out last fall, Midnight Hours takes place in Oklahoma City, and three of the main characters are members of the OKC police department. Much what I wrote about the police department came from my imagination and from my experiences mainly with the country sheriff's department. I realize now that I needed a resource inside the department in order to be sure the details add to the believability of the plot if and when someone who "knows" reads the book. I can at least have that information for the next book in the series.

Ways to discover facts and possibilities to help with writing any type of mystery (including the sub-genres) are many.

Have a resource person in a police department
. I now have one in the OKC department. If I decide to use another city or county entity, I will contact them and ask for help.

Join email groups in the crime/mystery genre. I'm a member of Sister in Crime (} and their Yahoo email group, as well as the crimescenewriters Yahoo email group. Many experts, including police and forensics experts, are parts of each group and answer questions posed about material needed for plots, deaths, discovery, and procedures. I started printing many pages of responses for my mystery file. I have at least three new possible ways to commit murder, investigate them, and solve them.

Read, read, read. Read mysteries of all kinds. Note which plots, characters, and details work and which don't. Analyze why or why not.

Read writing magazines, and articles which cover writing different types of mysteries.

Attend conferences with mystery sessions. I have two conferences on my wish list: Scene of the Crime, held in Wichita, Kansas, and Telling Your Story hosted by Mystery author William Bernhardt, held in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The Muse Online Writing Conference last year had a complete list of forums, authors, and editors dealing with mystery. Wonder what they will have this year (next month)?

The more prepared we are, the better chance our mystery will have details and information that will make our stories and novels believable.

My novel Midnight Hours started as a novella entered in a contest on Writing.Com. The novel and long short story have a few things in common, but the novel expands and changes some of the characters and plot. However, I did my best to make characters, plot, and setting as realistic and believable as possible.

Vivian Zabel


L. Diane Wolfe said...

I don't write mysteries, but my friend, p.m.terrell, has many contacts with police officers, the FBI and the CIA for her books. And one of the four editors that edit her books checks for those accuracies alone.

L. Diane Wolfe “Spunk On A Stick”

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

You might think about the PSWA writers conference in Las Vegas next June.
Always attended by lots of law enforcement officers who are quite willing to answer questions.