Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Book Review #7: Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel

Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel by Hallie Ephron is a combination textbook/workbook. Here's a quick overview: (The part marked with * are the ones I personally found most helpful.)

The Introduction, by S.J.Rozan, covers a general definition of mystery fiction, including the subgenres:  cozy, caper, police procedural, PI, historical, legal, psychogical suspense, forensic, fem-jep, and genre busters--all of which I needed clarification on.

Part 1:  Planning
  • The Premise
  • The Mystery Sleuth
  • The Crime Victim's Secrets*
  • The Villain
  • Innocent Suspects
  • The Supporting Cast
  • Setting
  • Staking Out the Plot
  • Picking a Title*
  • A Blueprint for a Mystery Novel
Part 2:  Writing
  • Writing a Dramatic Opening
  • Introducing the Protagonist
  • Introducing Major and Minor Characters
  • Drmatizing Scenes, Making Chapters
  • Writing Dialogue
  • Creating a Sense of Place*
  • Writing Investigation: Clues, Red Herrings, and Misdirection*
  • Writing Suspense
  • Writing Action
  • Puzzling it Out: Writing Reflection
  • Layering in the Backstory*
  • Writing the Coda*
Part 3:  Revising
  • Flying High: Fixing Plot and Characters
  • Flying Low: Polishing Scenes and Sentences
  • Hearing Criticism, Finding Your Own Fix
Part 4: Selling Your Mystery Novel
  • Introduction
  • Targeting Agents
  • Targeting Small or Independent Presses
  • Putting Together a Query Packet
Part 5:  Appendedix of Resources for Mystery Writers

>What makes this book stand out from the general category of "how-to" books is the "Now You Try" chart at the end of every chapter--not just one small space for note but rather guided exercises for every point made/skill taught in the chapter.<

This is a Writer's Digest Book (2005). I found my used copy online for $2, but for serious mystery writers, it's well-worth the shelf price in a bookstore.

FTC Disclaimer: I have received no remuneration for reviewing this book.


Alannah Lynne said...

Thank you for the great recommendation, I've ordered my copy for a whopping $1.94. LOL

K9friend said...

I've never tried writing mystery before, but have considered it. This book sounds like it's worth a look.

Mary Ricksen said...

Great suggestions. I do love that genre.