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Writing the Mystery
A Start-to-Finish Guide for Both Novice and Professional

By G. Miki Hayden

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Writing the Mystery

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Writing the Mystery
A Start-to-Finish Guide for Both Novice and Professional, Second Edition
by G. Miki Hayden
Intrigue Press, Denver (2004)
Standard Print ISBN: 1-890768-63-4
Genre: Writing - Reference

Reviewed by Anna Dogole - March 14, 2005

So you want to become a mystery writer? Maybe you are already a skilled writer, in another genre, and are looking to make a transition to mysteries, or perhaps you a complete novice to the field of writing and are looking for tips on getting started? Either way, in Writing the Mystery: A Start-to-Finish Guide for Both Novice and Professional, G. Miki Hayden has gathered togther a plethora of helpful advice to guide you, step-by-step, on your way to becoming a skilled and published mystery writer.

A respected writer of both mysteries and science fiction, Hayden is an award winning writer and teacher of fiction writing. In Writing the Mystery, Hayden brings her years of experience and expertise to bear, providing a concise and easy to follow reference manual that will guide you through the basics of writing both mystery novels and short stories. Hayden walks you through the entire writing process, from selecting the type of mystery you want to write to publicizing your published novel. She covers the basics, such as grammar, plotting, characterization, writing dialog, incorporating red herrings and romance into your fiction, and researching your story. Hayden also explores the world of publishing and the business side of writing, offering tips on preparing your manuscript for submission, cover letters, acquiring an agent, and how to write a novel summary. Throughout, she has included a selection of writing exercises that will help jump-start your writing and which will also give you the opportunity to practice the writing techniques discussed in the text.

This text is divided into two parts. The bulk of the book deals with the technical side of mystery writing, and the business aspects of getting your story or novel published. The second part of this book is devoted to a priceless collection of author interviews, written in a question and answer format, in which several eminent mystery writers offer their advice and guidance to new writers. Authors who contributed to this section include Mary Higgins Clark, Michael Connelly, Tony Hillerman, Elmore Leonard, Dale Furutani, Sujata Massey, William Kent Krueger, Laura Lippman, S. J. Rozan, Linda Fairstein, Larry Karp, Rick Riordan, Seymour Shubin, and Kris Neri. Short bios of each author are included, as is a Q & A section with Hayden, in which she answers some frequently asked questions about writing, that she receives.

Writing the Mystery provides the reader with a step-by-step guide through the process of writing a mystery, and it provides valuable insight into the publishing world. Most important, Hayden illustrates why it is necessary for writers to always work at honing their craft. Although geared specifically toward mystery writers, this book also offers advice on a range of topics such as how to write a novel summary, pacing your story, and how to write effective dialogue that will benefit fiction writers in any genre.

Writing the Mystery: A Start-to-Finish Guide for Both Novice and Professional will not teach you how to be creative, nor will it turn you into an overnight success. What it does do is provide a general overview of how to write a mystery and what to do with your story once it is completed. Writing is hard work, and it can take you years to master the craft. This book will help you to avoid some common mistakes and it will help shorten your apprenticeship by teaching you the basic skills that you'll need to mature from being 'just' a writer, to becoming a professional, published writer.

This book is suitable for writers of all skill levels. However, I feel that it will prove most valuable to novice writers as much of the technical information and the writing exercises presuppose that you are in the early stages of learning the craft. Nonetheless, professional writers, especially those transiting into mysteries, will find valuable tidbits of information within the pages of this text. Highly recommended!

Please note: This book is only available in standard print.

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