Tips for Writing Mystery Novels and Why Second Hand Textbooks are Better than New Textbooks
Mur Lafferty's Six Wakes is a genre mash-up that will keep you on the edge of your seat if you enjoy sci-fi thrillers or space murder mysteries. If you're a writer, we've collected a list of tips to help you produce a terrific mystery novel that keeps readers interested. We've also discussed why buying used textbooks is preferable to buying new textbooks.
Understand Your Genre
Before you begin writing, it's critical to gain a thorough understanding of your genre by reading as much as possible. James reads an average of 50 books every year! He emphasizes the significance of thoroughly understanding your genre before beginning to write. If you don't do your homework, you risk writing something that has already been written. You might think it's fantastic, and it was fantastic 15 years ago. Instead, he recommends doing some reading to get ideas, then expanding on the story, modernizing the location, and infusing new life into a new plot with distinct characters. After you've learned what's been done, ask yourself, "What's a novel twist on this?" James cites Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code as a superb example of a sophisticated thriller that manages to feel new.
Raymond Chandler, Sue Grafton, Agatha Christie, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are just a few of the authors who have produced brilliant mystery novels. Start with the classics (such as Sherlock Holmes) and then branch out into different genres based on your preferences.
Before you write, commit a crime.
While some authors prefer to write without a plan, the mystery genre does not lend itself to improvisation. You'll need to drip feed information bit by bit to develop tension and keep your readers engaged, which means you'll need to know your crime and its perpetrator inside and out before you put pen to paper.
Consider not only who committed the crime, but also how and why they did it. Is there anything uncommon about their techniques, or any specific details you can describe that would give richness to your story — for example, the lingering odor of a real-world poison, or the unusual wounds caused by an unconventional weapon? Would anyone else have seen — or thought they saw — the crime, and if so, how would your criminal keep them quiet?
You might think of telltale clues that may have been left behind and when to present these clues to your readers to keep them captivated by laying out and studying your crime. Just remember to clean your browser's history afterward.
Set up Persuasive Questions
Give your readers something to hold on to if you want them to stay with you on the voyage. Choose a few questions that pose a challenging dilemma. "Setting up questions that the reader must have answered is one of the most important secrets of suspense."
The whole plot of Step on a Crack, the first book in James' Michael Bennett trilogy, revolves around a state burial in New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral, which is attended by major political people. The plot is set in motion when the cathedral is held up during the funeral, due to a series of intriguing questions: who would do such a thing, and why?
Investigate and select your location with care.
The setting is the foundation of a mystery; it creates the correct atmosphere and usually plays a key role in the plot. However, according to Allister Thompson, a crime fiction editor, far too many mysteries are set in the same old settings. "The world doesn't need another criminal novel set in New York," he argues, adding that "the world doesn't need another crime novel set in London if you're British, or in Toronto if you're Canadian."
Raising the stakes is a good idea. Then Raise Them Once More.
Increasing the stakes is another technique to keep your reader interested and following along with you. Begin by establishing the story's framework with the hook. After that, fill in the blanks with extra information. In Step on a Crack, for example, James gives Michael Bennett, the protagonist, a lot to contend with. He's a detective on the case of the cathedral. He is the father of ten adoptive children. And his wife is on her deathbed.
In addition to the story's central mystery, James wants readers of Step on a Crack to be concerned about what will happen to his protagonist's wife and children. What kind of interactions does he have with them? What can they do to make his life better? Why does he have ten adoptive children to begin with? These subplots also heighten the stakes, keeping the reader interested as the main plot progresses. That's not to suggest that the major plot doesn't have its own stakes—SPOILER ALERT! The gunmen in Step on a Crack don't just hold up the Cathedral. As the story progresses, they also murder and dispose of the bodies of prominent New Yorkers.
Make use of contrast and counterpoint.
"Suspense has no meaning unless it's tempered by humor," declared Hitchcock, who was known for films like The Trouble With Harry for his macabre sense of humor. Hitchcock appreciated the contrasts between comedy and horror in Frenzy, and he employed humor effectively between the Chief Inspector and his wife. "I created the Chief Inspector's wife to allow me to place most of the discussion of the crime outside of a professional framework," Hitchcock explained. "And I use humor to soften the blows by portraying the wife a gourmet chef." So, this inspector returns home every night to hear about the murders over opulent meals." Comedy may add drama to your work and allow your reader to dwell on the suspense.
Suspension of the Reader
When James feels a story is dragging, he incorporates red herrings or misdirection. Don't be afraid of deception; it's quite realistic in real life. Most amateur or professional detective work unavoidably leads to some dead ends or erroneous turns. This, according to James, is what makes a mystery novel compelling.
Consider the plot's future developments while constructing red herrings. Then consider how you may gently guide your main character, and thus your reader, in a new direction. Is there a hint you may drop that may appear to be revealing or significant at the time but ultimately proves to be a red herring? Drop it and keep writing, confident that a good hint—even if it turns out to be deliberate misdirection—will captivate and satisfy your reader.
Maximize the Impact of the Reveal
The entire mystery or suspense novel builds to the big reveal, but don't expose everything at once or too hastily. Create a scene that allows you to "milk" the reveal slowly. James says that you keep feeding out little tidbits or clues until the mystery is solved. It's not always simple to keep plotlines straight in your head, so include three or four bullet points with clues to your readers about how the book will end to your plan. If you don't think they'll ruin the surprise, add them to existing chapters.
It's all about keeping your reader engaged until the very last word when you're writing a mystery. Hopefully, James Patterson's advice will assist you in getting started.
What Are the Benefits of Buying Used Textbooks?
What are the advantages of purchasing second hand textbooks? To save money, of course! When you compare the cost of used textbooks to the cost of new textbooks, you'll see how much money you'll save. Not to mention that by removing a book from someone's hands and assisting them in recouping some of their investment, you are assisting someone else. It's the end of the road for the college textbook.
What Are Some Good Places to Look for Used Textbooks?
Wherever new textbooks are sold, second hand textbooks are frequently available. This includes the campus bookshop. Because you won't have to pay for delivery, you might be able to find a better deal at the campus bookstore than on Usedbooksfactory, Amazon, or eBay when it comes to old books.
Another place to look for second hand textbooks is on social media or among friends who have taken the course previously. Many schools and universities offer Facebook groups where students can sell textbooks or simply discuss events on campus. Scroll through the feed to find the textbook you're looking for. Pay a visit to a nearby second hand bookstore. They will be able to carry a copy of the book thanks to a kind donation from a former student. It will require some browsing, but it will not be too difficult if you are a book connoisseur.
Finally, you can ask your instructor whether any spare textbooks have been left over from previous students. They understand that textbooks can be costly, and they want to help you as much as they can.
How to Get the Best Second Hand Textbook Deal
While buying used textbooks will save you money right away as compared to buying new textbooks, there are a few other tactics you can follow to ensure you save the most money.
Comparisons of prices of second hand textbooks
Just as you would with new textbooks, you should always compare prices. Because you'll have to look for classmates who are selling their second hand textbooks, it'll take a little longer than using a website that compares costs for you. If you have the time, it's usually a good idea to compare pricing before going in and purchasing a used textbook.
Purchase second hand textbooks from your peers.
Purchase second hand textbooks from your classmates to assist them. Not only will this help them recuperate some of their expenses, but you'll also get a discount on an old used textbook. Because you're buying from a human, don't be afraid to haggle on price, even if you found it cheaper elsewhere online. You can also save money on shipping by purchasing a second hand textbook from a classmate and picking it up on campus.
Take a look at the library for second hand textbooks.
Nobody ever thinks of taking a textbook out of the library. Libraries are frequently free to use, and you can check out a second hand textbook for the entire semester. The only drawback of borrowing a textbook from the library is that you must go early in the semester.
Download textbooks completely free.
If you're an English major or taking a General Education course that requires you to read famous novels or books, investigate if you can get it for free. After a certain number of years, the copyright lapses, allowing you to download the eBook edition for free! Look up a book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Google to see whether it qualifies.
Rent second hand textbook
Renting second hand textbook is a great way to save money on new textbooks. Check the bookshop and other second hand books online stores once again for the greatest bargain. You'll have less clutter on your bookshelves at the end of the semester.
How to Get Paid for Your Second Hand Textbooks
Old second hand textbook can be resold for a profit, just like new textbooks. You can sell second hand textbook to classmates and online using Textsurf or Amazon. If Amazon runs out of a popular textbook, you might be able to get a credit on your account if you submit it. Returning second hand textbook to the school bookstore is not a good idea. They'll give you the bare minimum, which won't amount to much in terms of money. The simplest approach to recuperate your investment is to sell second hand textbook.