how to write a murder story

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Year after year, we review dozens of reader nominations, revisit sites from past lists, consider staff favorites, and search the far-flung corners of the web for new celebration of new year essay for a varied compilation that will prove an asset to any writer, of any genre, at any experience level. This selection represents this year's creativity-centric websites for writers. These websites fuel out-of-the-box thinking and help writers awaken their choke palahnuik and literary analysis. Be sure to check out the archives for references to innovative techniques and processes from famous thinkers like Einstein and Darwin. The countless prompts, how-tos on guided imagery and creative habits, mixed-media masterpieces, and more at Creativity Portal have sparked imaginations for more than 18 years. Boost your literary credentials by submitting your best caption for the stand-alone cartoon to this weekly choke palahnuik and literary analysis from The New Yorker. The top three captions advance to a public vote, and the winners will be included in a future issue of the magazine.

How to write a murder story how to write in arabic keyboard

How to write a murder story

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I suppose I can get away without using swear words in such a genre as to write the words would offend most of the audience. I once had a woman email me on behalf of her book group. While there is no need to gratuitously pepper the language, you have to stay true to the character. You can probably get away without using swear words at all, but you may be cutting off one avenue that defines the character. Mike is right about staying true to your character.

Every writer is in control of their own work but I think that by leaving out all swearing, the end-product would suffer. I have attended more crime scenes than I can remember and finger-tipped some horrific murder scenes over thirty years. I retired in and I think my knowledge became time-expired within six months and even then it was limited to the way things are done in just one country.

Great post Gary, I only wish you had written it this time last year when I was writing my first book! I think I have got most of your points down, but I am going to make my current D a bit more cautious about contaminating the scene. Seems a bit kooky. There is nothing stopping you producing an abridged edition Greg, however I would not do so again on Amazon. They are incapable of correctly linking titles despite ISBNs so it is a coin toss as to which version is delivered to your reader.

I withdrew all of my abridged and the large print versions after many complaints. My feeling about coarse language is that you have to write to suit the genre. Of course you can go overboard but to leave all 4-Letter words out just for the chance that it might offend someone will, in my opinion, diminish the effectiveness of the story — certainly from the subconscious effect of realism.

Thank you for this great article. I have been doing research but still have doubts. Any help is welcome. Thank you for the great article. I did a lot of reached but still have doubts. Very interesting, but can not agree with all of it.

Columbo leans over body, smoking etc but very popular, made writer a fortune. They are all very, very popular. As long as the story is good you do not need to be correct. All good points and adequately made. Many readers require entertainment rather than up to date realism. Crime Scene, cold, wet, no toilet available and certainly none of the coffee shops nearby that TV shows seems to have.

Murder Enquiry, interesting but certainly not exciting and rarely complete in thirty minutes. No surprise that many prefer their novels to mirror the TV version BUT you can still provide a level of realism that both the CSI fan and the discerning thinker can enjoy. Yes, I agree, you can have realism and a good story. That is what I try for. Fans of other genres may not know or care, but why risk being shredded when you can get things right?

I am in the prepping stages of my first crime novel. However, I do my research. TONS of it. I found this article and comments to be extremely helpful. This is going to be a long process. But, seems like it will be fun taking tiny pieces to create a bigger picture of what looked to be a harmless well-known guy to many. Hi Garry — just discovered your website, great work. I guess there is a similarity between us as I used to be a Murder DCI in the UK and now advise writers on police actions and procedures.

I think your site is really good and will be subscribing to receive your posts. Great advice! This has been very enlightening and, not to mention, scary. Honestly, I mean that I am afraid that my first and current novel will fail to capture the actuality of the investigative field. I do have a strong fear of failure. However, I am hopeful. I believe that it will all work out through the extensive use of coffee, Google, and blogs. Thank you for your tips! Perhaps, I could email you for further help?

Hi, this helped a lot, I am writing a murder mystery but I am having a hard time adding more detail to it or even coming up with reasons the people were killed. Also how to let the reader try to figure out the murder and leaving clues leading to the murderer.

Thanks again for the article. Great article and replies, make you really think more into crafting a crime scene. What about Robin Hood motivations. Like, i. This has stirred up some dormant story plans for me. Most of my story ideas lean much closer to science fiction that crime fiction. But I keep considering writing something based on the actual murders that have happened around my social circle growing up.

The fist girl I had a crush on was killed by her stepfather the summer after I met her. But he was rich so he got off. Several books and a few movies were made about the case. But they all seemed to minimize the person I was most focused on in the real case.

Then a few years later, a guy at the end of my block was a known schizophrenic whose parents tried and tried to get committed. Then he killed five people. He was eventually executed. The killer was later executed. Gary, I was happy to find this page. I have a murder case i was set up on in Oregon and its Cmplex but when a Person had ADHD- and Dyslexia it seems the courts can use that against a person.

How can a person who cannot formulate a well writen timeline when they cant write well. After what I had gone thru in Oregon how many other people are in the same boat.. And if you cant write well people will not read it. And so on.. It seems to me in a murder case when the Person Close to the victim believes that the Police and DA are not honest that there would be a Person who writes the facts… but they did not..

Thanks for the tips! This really helps. Just a question here: do you see anything wrong in The X Files related to this post? Thank you for the advice! I currently have only scary things written, but if you have any links that could help me with any kind of other writing, that would be amazing. Thank you! Thanks Gary. Because I like to write crime, for me it was an interesting article.

I was writing about bones found and checked missing persons on goggle. I emailed a sergeant who worked in the area. I asked basic questions and he gave me all the answers I needed. Like what equipment do they set up at a crime scene, who attends etc. I realised these guys are very helpful if you have a question. Thanks Gary and I just ordered one of the books you suggested. Hi Delsey — Thanks for commenting. Best wishes for your crime writing! Send me my free ebook! An extensive online video course that will teach you to become an emotional master.

Learn the secrets to showing emotion in characters and evoking emotions in readers! Want to write great books? Not just so-so ones? Whether you're writing your first book or your tenth, you can benefit from a critique. Affordable, insightful, and thorough, my critiques will fast-track you in your writing career. What are you waiting for? Submit your pages here! Susanne went above and beyond, making important plot suggestions and pointing out holes in the story, along with providing an excellent job of line editing and proofreading.

Nice job, quickly and effectively done. Susanne is more than an editor; she cares about your book as if it were her own. My book went on to win first place in the Feathered Quill Book Awards! I love the fast but thorough work that she does every single time. Working with Susanne has been fabulous. I am thrilled with the job she has done on my current work in progress, and I no longer have to stress about how my book is going to turn out. I have a great editor to take all the hassle out of the process!

I am so excited to have found her. Thanks, Susanne—you are a blessing! Susanne is a writer with a wonderful imagination and also a gifted copyeditor, able to point out a wide range of necessary improvements in manuscripts while remaining completely positive and encouraging. A great writing mentor! Susanne is always accessible and eager to help.

With years of writing experience and several books already tucked into the completed file, she comes at the craft of writing with a tool belt full of knowledge and creativity. She tackles editing with the heart of a mentor. I would highly recommend her. Susanne Lakin, already a gem of a novelist, shines with extra brilliance through the facets of her superb editing and critiquing services.

Some editors rush a job when it comes in with a short deadline. Susanne did not. Above all, Susanne is lovingly blunt, but not confrontational. Her commitment to good writing is always the first focus in her reviews. Susanne was terrific to work with! She is a wonderful editor who caught my mistakes, smoothed out my writing, and made my final product much better.

I really appreciated her prompt replies to my questions and her clear, thorough explanations of suggested changes to my manuscript. I would highly recommend Susanne for a great editing experience and for a final product you will be proud of. She taught me things to spice up and improve my style.

The publisher could not have made a better choice. Our lives are shaped from the books we read; therefore, the most valuable job to both publisher and author is their editor. Editor Susanne Lakin is a gifted wordsmith, coach, and mentor. As a small book publisher, we are grateful to Susanne for always completing projects ahead of schedule and under budget. Finally, a comprehensive, practical blueprint for constructing a terrific novel--every time! This writing craft book will show you how to go from idea to complete novel a step at a time.

Buy it here on Amazon, in print or as an ebook! Available in all formats online. Purchase the companion workbook here! The ultimate resource to help fiction writers identify and ferret out the fatal flaws in their prose. A must-have for every serious writer. More than 60 Before and After passages. Best-selling authors of every genre know the secret to hooking readers—by showing, not telling, their story.

Now you can learn the techniques to bring your story to life! Buy Shoot Your Novel here on Amazon. Do you want to write a good or a great novel? To reach a reader's heart, you must get to the heart of your story. This best-selling book will show you how! Buy it here on Amazon! Take the pain out of learning good grammar! With short, sometimes snarky entries, Say What? Buy Say What? Don't wander aimlessly — strategize your writing career!

Sign up for my newsletter and get cool updates on releases, special offers, and your free ebook! Online Courses. Understand the mechanism of death. Understand time of death. Understand scene access. Get the terminology right. Crime-lab results are not so quick. Use the five senses. Craft believable dialog. Create compelling characters. Understand the science of story. Bonus tip: This gem is from Joseph Wambaugh. Hi Brian! I mean I had to check my own work. I used the word gaffe.

Sorry for not being clear. I know who to follow. Hi I have bookmarked. One question cost of consultancy advice? Thank you so much! Hi Deborah, PD James was one of the masters of storytelling, not just crime writing. Great show but gory! Which part? You can never know too much. TV has a lot to answer for. Thank you very much for taking the time to share your knowledge, sir. Hi Greg, Thanks for your comment. Greg, Thank you for this great article. Hi Garry, Thank you for the great article. Realism: Crime Scene, cold, wet, no toilet available and certainly none of the coffee shops nearby that TV shows seems to have.

Besides, I get a great deal of enjoyment out of the research itself. Thank you, I take your point. I also enjoy the research, but I do not think it is always needed. Thanks so much for sharing Garry — very useful indeed.

Sounds great! And if you need an expert to help you, you can hire Garry as a consultant! Hi Garry, Great article and replies, make you really think more into crafting a crime scene. Regards Desley Polmear. Search for:. Subscribe to My Blog Enter your e-mail address to get all weekly posts delivered to you:. Sign up for my newsletter to get cool news and offers and your free ebook. Take my FREE email course to learn how to get your books discovered! It's free!

Want a One-On-One Consultation? Get the professional feedback you need! Testimonials Susanne went above and beyond, making important plot suggestions and pointing out holes in the story, along with providing an excellent job of line editing and proofreading. Lawrence, author Syncing Forward. Shaquanda Dalton, author I Won't Cry. Elena Dillon, author Breathe.

Grace Bridges, publisher, author Faith Awakened. Catherine Leggitt, author Payne and Misery. John Claeys, author Apocalypse Pola Muzyka, author Abducted to Kill. Alice Nicholas, publisher Pecan Row Press. Susanne made the difference between my being unpublished and moving on to publication. Within months after her stellar edits, a publisher sent me a contract for my Middle Grade novel, and now my first book has been published.

Thank you, Susanne, for making my dream come true. Jeanne Williams, author Just Claire. Editing is the best form of book promotion an author has at his disposal. In many ways, a book is only as good as its editor and is frequently the medium that distinguishes professional writers from amateurs. My sincere thanks and appreciation to Ms.

Lakin for her professional polish that makes my book shine. Susanne Lakin performed CPR on my novella and brought it back to life with incredible skill. Worth every penny! I intend to use her for my next project too. Thanks, Susanne! Susanne is a concise, dynamic, and artistic writer. Her dedication, care, and attention to detail pushed me to revisit my work with new insight. I was able to delve deeply into my soul and create a memoir worthy of publication. Being associated with her was like touching gold, and under her guidance I grew from an aspiring writer to an author.

My success is due to Susanne, and I am forever grateful and blessed to know her. Susanne Lakin has both the heart and skills that make her an exceptional editor and coach. I was dead in the water with my manuscript—unsure where to find the help I needed to move forward—until I discovered Susanne. Rod Smith, author Holy Libido. Betsy Cheung, author They felt alone in the world for so long they really feel as if they are alone. This is similar to having a good back story , but just try to make sure there is a good reason in play for your character that committed the crime.

Enjoying this post? Read on! If you want to write a murder mystery, you are most likely a fan of murder mysteries. Read your favorite mysteries and authors and try to learn from them. If you want to make a compelling story and character, you need to see how those that were successful before you have done it. Read critically. Read to see how they write dialogue. Read to see how much description they use.

Get a feel for how they write out the actions of the characters. Take this with a grain of salt. Think critically. The way you write is a part of your signature. Maybe you enjoy more description. Write a little more description of the scenery and characters. Maybe you like non-stop action. Write fiction that is action-oriented.

Maybe you love character dialogue and enjoy revealing character through their conversations. Write more dialogue. There really are many ways to write a good story, but when reading your favorite authors, read with a critical eye. Writing should be a little work and a good bit enjoyable. It should be an adventure for you and your reader to find out who did it, why, and where do we go from here.

Make sure your posts are readable. Use this readability score check. What Are Your Writing Insecurities? You write for yourself of course, but there is a small part of you that Read more. If you are like many other creative writers fictional towns are a Read more. Violent Religions Violent religions come and go with time, but some stick around Read more. View all posts by Jeremy.

REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEM ESSAY QUESTIONS

Ten years later the suspect for the previous murder we had highlighted on the first day of the murder enquiry was convicted of it on DNA evidence. It would be worth a book in itself but British officers are gagged for twenty years by the Official Secrets Act. Two investigators were assigned, and one of them was methodical and followed the best procedure while the other had a preconceived perp he wanted to bust.

He cherry-picked information and led the witnesses in questioning. Lousy procedure. Interesting stuff; the one I took covered a lot of the problems with human perception and how it makes witnesses unreliable, and they have you experience it for yourself with perceptual tests. Peter, I would add one thing. Sometimes you DO find the telling piece of evidence right away, the thing that will make the entire case.

Excellent observation Mike. That gives authors another path to portray how our protagonists discover what they need to know to solve cases. In other words, if you character is a Sherlock Holmes type, does he always see it right away? If your character is a beginner and unsure of himself, does he find it fast, but not trust his instinct? Do you go with type or against? So many options! There are definitely excellent points here but I will admit the hardest issue I have involves the use of foul language.

I suppose I can get away without using swear words in such a genre as to write the words would offend most of the audience. I once had a woman email me on behalf of her book group. While there is no need to gratuitously pepper the language, you have to stay true to the character. You can probably get away without using swear words at all, but you may be cutting off one avenue that defines the character.

Mike is right about staying true to your character. Every writer is in control of their own work but I think that by leaving out all swearing, the end-product would suffer. I have attended more crime scenes than I can remember and finger-tipped some horrific murder scenes over thirty years. I retired in and I think my knowledge became time-expired within six months and even then it was limited to the way things are done in just one country.

Great post Gary, I only wish you had written it this time last year when I was writing my first book! I think I have got most of your points down, but I am going to make my current D a bit more cautious about contaminating the scene. Seems a bit kooky. There is nothing stopping you producing an abridged edition Greg, however I would not do so again on Amazon. They are incapable of correctly linking titles despite ISBNs so it is a coin toss as to which version is delivered to your reader.

I withdrew all of my abridged and the large print versions after many complaints. My feeling about coarse language is that you have to write to suit the genre. Of course you can go overboard but to leave all 4-Letter words out just for the chance that it might offend someone will, in my opinion, diminish the effectiveness of the story — certainly from the subconscious effect of realism.

Thank you for this great article. I have been doing research but still have doubts. Any help is welcome. Thank you for the great article. I did a lot of reached but still have doubts. Very interesting, but can not agree with all of it. Columbo leans over body, smoking etc but very popular, made writer a fortune.

They are all very, very popular. As long as the story is good you do not need to be correct. All good points and adequately made. Many readers require entertainment rather than up to date realism. Crime Scene, cold, wet, no toilet available and certainly none of the coffee shops nearby that TV shows seems to have.

Murder Enquiry, interesting but certainly not exciting and rarely complete in thirty minutes. No surprise that many prefer their novels to mirror the TV version BUT you can still provide a level of realism that both the CSI fan and the discerning thinker can enjoy. Yes, I agree, you can have realism and a good story. That is what I try for. Fans of other genres may not know or care, but why risk being shredded when you can get things right?

I am in the prepping stages of my first crime novel. However, I do my research. TONS of it. I found this article and comments to be extremely helpful. This is going to be a long process. But, seems like it will be fun taking tiny pieces to create a bigger picture of what looked to be a harmless well-known guy to many.

Hi Garry — just discovered your website, great work. I guess there is a similarity between us as I used to be a Murder DCI in the UK and now advise writers on police actions and procedures. I think your site is really good and will be subscribing to receive your posts. Great advice! This has been very enlightening and, not to mention, scary. Honestly, I mean that I am afraid that my first and current novel will fail to capture the actuality of the investigative field.

I do have a strong fear of failure. However, I am hopeful. I believe that it will all work out through the extensive use of coffee, Google, and blogs. Thank you for your tips! Perhaps, I could email you for further help? Hi, this helped a lot, I am writing a murder mystery but I am having a hard time adding more detail to it or even coming up with reasons the people were killed.

Also how to let the reader try to figure out the murder and leaving clues leading to the murderer. Thanks again for the article. Great article and replies, make you really think more into crafting a crime scene. What about Robin Hood motivations. Like, i. This has stirred up some dormant story plans for me. Most of my story ideas lean much closer to science fiction that crime fiction. But I keep considering writing something based on the actual murders that have happened around my social circle growing up.

The fist girl I had a crush on was killed by her stepfather the summer after I met her. But he was rich so he got off. Several books and a few movies were made about the case. But they all seemed to minimize the person I was most focused on in the real case. Then a few years later, a guy at the end of my block was a known schizophrenic whose parents tried and tried to get committed. Then he killed five people. He was eventually executed. The killer was later executed. Gary, I was happy to find this page.

I have a murder case i was set up on in Oregon and its Cmplex but when a Person had ADHD- and Dyslexia it seems the courts can use that against a person. How can a person who cannot formulate a well writen timeline when they cant write well. After what I had gone thru in Oregon how many other people are in the same boat..

And if you cant write well people will not read it. And so on.. It seems to me in a murder case when the Person Close to the victim believes that the Police and DA are not honest that there would be a Person who writes the facts… but they did not..

Thanks for the tips! This really helps. Just a question here: do you see anything wrong in The X Files related to this post? Thank you for the advice! I currently have only scary things written, but if you have any links that could help me with any kind of other writing, that would be amazing. Thank you! Thanks Gary. Because I like to write crime, for me it was an interesting article.

I was writing about bones found and checked missing persons on goggle. I emailed a sergeant who worked in the area. I asked basic questions and he gave me all the answers I needed. Like what equipment do they set up at a crime scene, who attends etc. I realised these guys are very helpful if you have a question. Thanks Gary and I just ordered one of the books you suggested. Hi Delsey — Thanks for commenting.

Best wishes for your crime writing! Send me my free ebook! An extensive online video course that will teach you to become an emotional master. Learn the secrets to showing emotion in characters and evoking emotions in readers! Want to write great books?

Not just so-so ones? Whether you're writing your first book or your tenth, you can benefit from a critique. Affordable, insightful, and thorough, my critiques will fast-track you in your writing career. What are you waiting for? Submit your pages here! Susanne went above and beyond, making important plot suggestions and pointing out holes in the story, along with providing an excellent job of line editing and proofreading. Nice job, quickly and effectively done. Susanne is more than an editor; she cares about your book as if it were her own.

My book went on to win first place in the Feathered Quill Book Awards! I love the fast but thorough work that she does every single time. Working with Susanne has been fabulous. I am thrilled with the job she has done on my current work in progress, and I no longer have to stress about how my book is going to turn out.

I have a great editor to take all the hassle out of the process! I am so excited to have found her. Thanks, Susanne—you are a blessing! Susanne is a writer with a wonderful imagination and also a gifted copyeditor, able to point out a wide range of necessary improvements in manuscripts while remaining completely positive and encouraging.

A great writing mentor! Susanne is always accessible and eager to help. With years of writing experience and several books already tucked into the completed file, she comes at the craft of writing with a tool belt full of knowledge and creativity. She tackles editing with the heart of a mentor. I would highly recommend her. Susanne Lakin, already a gem of a novelist, shines with extra brilliance through the facets of her superb editing and critiquing services.

Some editors rush a job when it comes in with a short deadline. Susanne did not. Above all, Susanne is lovingly blunt, but not confrontational. Her commitment to good writing is always the first focus in her reviews.

Susanne was terrific to work with! She is a wonderful editor who caught my mistakes, smoothed out my writing, and made my final product much better. I really appreciated her prompt replies to my questions and her clear, thorough explanations of suggested changes to my manuscript. I would highly recommend Susanne for a great editing experience and for a final product you will be proud of.

She taught me things to spice up and improve my style. The publisher could not have made a better choice. Our lives are shaped from the books we read; therefore, the most valuable job to both publisher and author is their editor. Editor Susanne Lakin is a gifted wordsmith, coach, and mentor. As a small book publisher, we are grateful to Susanne for always completing projects ahead of schedule and under budget.

Finally, a comprehensive, practical blueprint for constructing a terrific novel--every time! This writing craft book will show you how to go from idea to complete novel a step at a time. Buy it here on Amazon, in print or as an ebook! Available in all formats online. Purchase the companion workbook here!

The ultimate resource to help fiction writers identify and ferret out the fatal flaws in their prose. A must-have for every serious writer. More than 60 Before and After passages. Best-selling authors of every genre know the secret to hooking readers—by showing, not telling, their story. Now you can learn the techniques to bring your story to life!

Buy Shoot Your Novel here on Amazon. Do you want to write a good or a great novel? To reach a reader's heart, you must get to the heart of your story. This best-selling book will show you how! Buy it here on Amazon! Take the pain out of learning good grammar! With short, sometimes snarky entries, Say What? Buy Say What? Don't wander aimlessly — strategize your writing career!

Sign up for my newsletter and get cool updates on releases, special offers, and your free ebook! Online Courses. Understand the mechanism of death. Understand time of death. Understand scene access. Get the terminology right. Crime-lab results are not so quick. Use the five senses. Craft believable dialog. Create compelling characters. Understand the science of story. Bonus tip: This gem is from Joseph Wambaugh. Hi Brian! I mean I had to check my own work. I used the word gaffe. Sorry for not being clear.

I know who to follow. Hi I have bookmarked. One question cost of consultancy advice? Thank you so much! Hi Deborah, PD James was one of the masters of storytelling, not just crime writing. Great show but gory! Which part? You can never know too much.

TV has a lot to answer for. Thank you very much for taking the time to share your knowledge, sir. Hi Greg, Thanks for your comment. Greg, Thank you for this great article. Hi Garry, Thank you for the great article. Realism: Crime Scene, cold, wet, no toilet available and certainly none of the coffee shops nearby that TV shows seems to have.

Besides, I get a great deal of enjoyment out of the research itself. Thank you, I take your point. I also enjoy the research, but I do not think it is always needed. Thanks so much for sharing Garry — very useful indeed. Sounds great! And if you need an expert to help you, you can hire Garry as a consultant! Hi Garry, Great article and replies, make you really think more into crafting a crime scene.

Regards Desley Polmear. Search for:. Subscribe to My Blog Enter your e-mail address to get all weekly posts delivered to you:. Sign up for my newsletter to get cool news and offers and your free ebook. Take my FREE email course to learn how to get your books discovered! It's free! Want a One-On-One Consultation? Get the professional feedback you need!

Testimonials Susanne went above and beyond, making important plot suggestions and pointing out holes in the story, along with providing an excellent job of line editing and proofreading. Lawrence, author Syncing Forward. Shaquanda Dalton, author I Won't Cry. Elena Dillon, author Breathe. Grace Bridges, publisher, author Faith Awakened. Catherine Leggitt, author Payne and Misery. John Claeys, author Apocalypse Pola Muzyka, author Abducted to Kill.

Alice Nicholas, publisher Pecan Row Press. Susanne made the difference between my being unpublished and moving on to publication. Within months after her stellar edits, a publisher sent me a contract for my Middle Grade novel, and now my first book has been published. Thank you, Susanne, for making my dream come true. Jeanne Williams, author Just Claire. Editing is the best form of book promotion an author has at his disposal.

In many ways, a book is only as good as its editor and is frequently the medium that distinguishes professional writers from amateurs. Reading a book utilizes our time, and in the modern world, that is frequently our most precious resource.

The author must have a compelling answer to the question: why should I waste my time reading your novel? The answer to that question is that the story is about someone the reader will find quite interesting: himself. The reader needs to recognize parts of himself in one or more of the characters. Though he will see them in situations that are different from his every day life, he needs the opportunity to ponder whether he would react the same way under those circumstances?

Yet they are generally disappointed if they can figure out the answer too easily, or at least too early in the story. Life is about obscurity. We never really know the secrets held by the people around us, even our most trusted loved ones.

That is what makes murder mysteries so compelling: in truth, our own lives are informed by mysteries that are never solved. Yet, unlike real life, in the novel everything is explained by its conclusion. Hence, we find comfort in the difference between our real lives and the novel; the satisfaction of finding out the answer.

Psychoanalysts have a term for this: repetition compulsion. It is the need to duplicate the essence of an earlier trauma and this time, control the outcome. The reader knows there are secrets being withheld by the author, but unlike in the messy and traumatic chaos of real life, if she reads on to the end, all will be explained.

Some of the best murder mysteries involve discourses on unrelated esoteric topics. This usually leads the reader to learn some obscure subject matter having nothing to do with the murder itself. The act of reading involves a commitment to inhabit the mind and feelings of another person. Hence, in the course of reading a murder mystery, one might learn the evolutionary symbiosis between butterflies and orchids; the esoterica of military strategy and tactics of the Civil War; or the protocols for DNA identification of human remains.

Another example is that in my recent novel, Point and Shoot, I discussed the subtle intersection of the internal and external martial arts, using the Okinawan art of Shaolin Kempo Karate and the Chinese art of Tai Chi Chuan as an illustration:. I went to the dressing room and put on a Kung Fu uniform that I always used for Tai Chi Chuan practice: simple, loose black pants and jacket with a white collar.

When I taught Kempo, I would wear the black Karate uniform with the rainbow of fighting animal patches and under that, the black belt with six stripes, but for Tai Chi, this understated garb was the uniform of the day. It was a tacit reminder that, although admittedly they were both derived from the same original Chinese Shaolin Temple forms, the two arts had developed in wholly distinct ways. Diverging branches from the same tree. My practice of Kempo Karate had been merely adequate through my mid-adolescence.

I had dutifully memorized the movements and their names, making my way up through the belt rankings. In five years, I had reached brown belt level. However, like so many martial arts students at that rank, I felt discouraged by the fact that I performed the movements so inadequately when compared to the black belts.

I had reached technical proficiency, but that was all. There was obviously something more, and I had no idea what that might be. I shared my misgivings with Grandfather, and he suggested that I learn the basic 24 posture Tai Chi short form and after that, the posture long form.

In fact, the postures and strikes were very similar to the crane form I knew so well from Kempo Karate. I executed them the same way: with focused force, albeit at a slower pace. But over time, he painstakingly helped me unlearn everything he had taught me about the Kempo. It was a very Eastern undertaking: a Master taking his disciple back to the beginning to start fresh. This was the man who had taught me to move with blinding speed, now urging me to slow down; who had taught me to strike with devastating, focused power, now urging me to be soft and gentle with those same movements; who had taught me to prevail decisively over my attackers, now urging me to yield to the attack.

In short, it was the man who taught me the external aspect of the Kempo, now helping me switch to the internal. It was the hardest thing I ever learned, mostly because it involved unlearning. But I stuck with it, and eventually, it started to come to me. I began to immerse myself in the river of the Tai Chi form. I began to move with the flow and relaxation I had often read about in the writings of the ancient Chinese masters, but had never understood.

And my martial arts practice finally started to blossom. The Tai Chi enhanced my Kempo Karate into something beyond simple punching and kicking. I began to understand the difference between learning the martial arts and being a martial artist. I had spent so many years memorizing the Kempo combinations and forms with my head, so much time training my hands and feet to execute them, that I had completely neglected to apply the most important part of my body: the heart.

I had never connected with the martial arts as a passion, a life enhancing undertaking. Like Grandfather had. After that, he suggested I re-learn the entire Kempo Karate system from white belt on up. They were the same Kempo combinations and animal forms, but now they felt and looked different. It was like first learning a beautiful poem through translation, and then because you loved it so much, re-learning it in the original tongue. I was finally learning Shaolin Kempo Karate in its original tongue.

I still cannot adequately define what exactly changed. But somehow, I had tied into something deep and eternal. I had developed a balance and centering that extended well beyond my practice of the martial arts. In a word, the internal arts enhanced me.

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How to Craft a Compelling Murder Mystery! (SPOILERS) - Video Essay

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