How to Write a Traditional Mystery

How to Write a Traditional Mystery

Today's webinar is titled "How to Write aTraditional Mystery.

" Our presenter today is Maggie King.

Maggie is the author of the HazelRose Book Group mysteries, including Murder at the Book Group and Murder at the MoonshineInn.

Her short stories, A Not So Genteel Murder and Reunion in Shockoe Slip appear in theVirginia is for Mysteries anthologies.

Wine, Women and Wrong is included in 50 Shades ofCabernet: A Mysterious Anthology.

She graduated from Elizabeth Seton Collegeand earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Rochester Institute ofTechnology.

She belongs to James River Writers, the American Association of University Women,and is a founding member of the Sisters in Crime Central Virginia chapter.

She has workedas a software developer, retail sales manager, customer service supervisor, web designer,and non-profit administrator.

She has called New Jersey, Massachusetts and California home.

These days she lives in Richmond, Virginia, with her husband, and all her jobs, schoolsand residences have gifted her with her story ideas for years the come.

We're thrilled tohave you with us today and let's get this webinar started.

>> Thank you, Cindy, and thank you to everyone for joining us today.

Today we will talk aboutwriting the traditional mystery.

We have a few goals in mind.

Creating characters thatyour readers will love.

Developing an appealing setting, planning your story and creatingsuspense.

To get a better understanding of your interests I would like for you to answerthis question.

Have you written or are you thinking about writing a mystery? And we'llopen for polling now and we'll look at your answers as they come in.

First, what is a mystery? In simple terms a mystery is a novel, play or movie dealingwith a puzzling crime, especially a murder.

The main character is a detective, also knownas a sleuth, who solves the mystery biological reasoning.

Each suspect must have a believablemotive and a reasonable opportunity for committing the crime.

Facts, clues and red herrings arepresented to the reader throughout the story but the author strives to surprise the readerwith the identity of the killer and motive.

There are different types of mysteries, thereis the traditional mystery, known as the cozy, classic whodunit.

The focus is on the puzzle.

The main question the reader has is who is the murderer? The works of Agatha Christieoffer the best known example of this mystery subgenre and Murder She Wrote starring AngelaLansbury is a televised version of a traditional mystery.

We have a second polling question.

Tell us what mysteries you watch on TV or on film?We'll look at your answers as they come in.

Sorry for the delay here.

Okay, here is thecover for the Murder at the Vicarage.

This is the first of Agatha Christie's Miss Marpleseries and it has been filmed many times.

Another type of mystery is suspense.

It takesthe mystery one step further.

Who is the murder and does the protagonist die? Psychologicalsuspense.

The bestselling Girl on the Train, Gone Girl, and then the many works that PatriciaSmith and Ruth Rendell.

Romantic suspense, as the name suggests, the main charactersare romantically involved and must face down danger and nail biting hurdles in their pursuitof the killer.

Robb, Burton, Gardner and Garwood are known for their romantic suspense stories.

The late Mary Stewart pioneered the genre.

And then there is the thriller.

A hero andvillain with plenty of action and close calls.

It may be narrowed down to medical or politicalthriller.

The stakes will be higher than in a traditional mystery or tale of suspense.

The question the reader now has is who is the murderer, will the protagonist die andwill the world blow up? Baldaphe, Brown, Cook and Patterson are all great examples of thrillers.


There are different types of sleuths.

There is the private investigator or the P.


The heroes are professional investigators or ex-cops.

They're independent, intelligentand often get involved in physical brawls.

The PI genre typically falls into two subgenres,a soft boiled and hard boiled.

Hard boiled usually have gritty descriptions of peopleand places.

They have — depict violent crime and they usually are set in urban environments.

The soft boils are similar in style but lighter in tone.

There is usually wry humor in thistype.

The authors of fictional P.


Chandler, Sue Grafton and others.

Police procedural.

A type of crime fiction that has elements involved in a police investigation.

Investigativefield work and forensics are included in this.

Examples are McBain, and others, Joseph Wambaughwas a cop himself.

It is realistic.

And the amateur sleuth, average citizen not trainedin apprehending killers.

Their professions could include being librarians, journalists,car mechanics, B & B owners, hairstylists, just about anything.

Cohen and others areamong many authors who write mysteries featuring amateur detectives.

And this is the coverfor Nancy J.


The title of her latest mystery series Bad Hair Day and the salonowner as the amateur sleuth.

I also write a series of traditional classic mysterieswith an amateur sleuth.

For the remainder of our time together I'll talk about thatsubgenre.

My advice can be also applied to police procedures or other mysteries.

Traditional mystery is a whodunit with an amateur sleuth, often referred to as a cozyor a classic puzzle mystery.

No explicit sex or violence.

The focus is on solving the puzzle,not on forensic detail.

There is little or no profanity.

It’s a small number of suspectswho usually know each other.

They prefer a series as oppose to a stand-alone.

However,many mystery writers write both.


Murder at the Book Group.

That was the first — thatwas my debut series novel.

And in this a description of it, secrets abound.

A story of two women,Carlene is a mystery writer who dies after drinking poison tea during a meeting of herbook group in Richmond, Virginia.

Hazel Rose is a romance writer, doesn't believe thatshe committed suicide despite the note near her body.

She decides to find out who killedCarlene.

The refined and reserved Carlene had quite a checkered past and equally amazedabout what she learns about the other book group members.

And then Murder at the Moonshineis the second in my group.

Hazel is asked to find out who killed a high-powered executivein a redneck bar.

She is a romance writer, not a detective, but the victim's husbandis the prime suspect and he is Hazel's cousin and she will do anything to help family, nevermind that he doesn't give her the time of day, he is still family.

She recruits bookgroup members to help with the investigation and she goes undercover at the bar where thevictim was killed.

To get to witness firsthand how much money matters and how some will stopat nothing to get their hands on it.


Let's talk about setting.

Setting isan important consideration for your story, especially if you are planning a series.

Thesetting could be the ocean, the mountains, or the desert of the country could be theUnited States or another country all together.

The setting will usually be where you liveor a place you know well.

If your setting is not where you live, be sure to keep upwith the current events and try to visit often.

Any readers of traditional mysteries prefersmall town settings.

If you have a small town, you need to bring in new characters with eachstory.

Mary Daheim deals with this in her Alpine series set in a small town in WashingtonState.

She builds a community college and a retirement home in the stories of facultyand students from nearby communities come into Alpine to attend the college and nearbycommunities also supply residents for the retirement home.

More about settings.

Settingsoffer distinctive elements that you can work into your plot.

You can make your settingcome alive and be authentic by considering aspects such as the climate, economics, religion,government, politics, medical facilities, cultural opportunities and more.

I set my series in Richmond, where I live.

My Richmond setting is historical, the statecapital of Virginia and was the capital of the Confederacy.

In recent years the populationhas become more diverse and politics have changed.

This has caused a certain amountof conflict and conflict is good for your mystery.

However, be careful about writingabout politics.

If you sound at all partisan you risk alienating half your readers.

I hadsome critical reviews saying I talked about politics too much.

It wasn't my intentionbut there you have it.

People are sensitive especially in this day in age.

The same holdstrue for religion and social issues in general.

Be careful, but don't be too careful.

Bringin the five senses.

Let the reader see, smell, taste, feel and hear the place where yourcharacters are at any point in the story.

Can your readers hear the roar of the oceanand smell the cheese steaks of your Philadelphia setting.

Walk around and soak in the sights,sounds and smells of your setting.

Maybe your setting by creating diagrams and collagesof the town or neighborhood and your sleuth's residence.

It will help you keep track ofdetails.

Many authors create Pinterest boards.

Creating your sleuth.

First you have to — youneed to answer some questions that your readers will have.

Why is your sleuth investigating?Was the victim a relative or friend? Did the sleuth find the body? Is the sleuth, or afriend or relative of hers a suspect.

Your sleuth's lifestyle and occupation may reveala world that is unknown to the reader.

Your occupation will be one you know.

If — forease I will use the pronounce she and her for the most part but all the points I makeare applicable to males.

The sleuth's occupation should bring her in contact with many people.

If she doesn't have an occupation — the job needs to be a flexible one because she willneed time to investigate the murder.

>> Maggie? We have a question.

Sean wantsto know would it be okay to make up a town or does it tend to make a mystery less real?>> That's fine.

Many authors do.

And sometimes it makes it easier because if you don't havethings the way you want them.

Sue Grafton writes — she calls the town Santa Theresa.

It's actually Santa Barbara.

Most people recognize it if they're familiar with it.

That way shecan have restaurants that she can make up and she doesn't have to worry about thingschanging like, you know, physical aspects of the town changing.

Does that answer thequestion? >> As far as I know it did, Maggie, thankyou.

>> Okay.

Gillian Roberts in her Amanda Pepperseries set in Philadelphia.

The teacher gets out of school by mid-afternoon which leavesher a few hours for sleuthing.

Incidentally, Helen Hath No Fury is set in a book group.

Qualities of your sleuth.

Your sleuth must be intelligent and observant.

She will bea seeker of justice determined to reveal the truth.

Your sleuth must be a good listener.

Suspects and others will often unwittingly reveal information.

Your sleuth will be inquisitiveand persistent, refusing the take no for an answer.

Your sleuth doesn't put herself indangerous situations.

But she often gets in them anyway because she believes the situationto be harmless.

Be careful she isn't too stupid to live.

There is an acronym for that.

Youprobably read stories or watched movies where the sleuth does get themselves into dangeroussituations without thinking.

I once read a sleuth where they broke into someone's officeat 4:00 in the morning.

Your sleuth must have a good sense of humor.

There are many humorousmysteries but be careful because someone why your story — humor might be inappropriate.


Your sleuth will have many challenges.

Your sleuth should haveflaws as well as strengths.

If she has an emotional issue, you as an author have a greatopportunity to allow for her character growth.

For example, if your sleuth has a fear ofpublic speaking she might have to confront her fear during the course of the investigation.

Past mistakes may come back and haunt your sleuth.

Old boyfriends and husbands may reappearin your sleuth's life creating complications for her and they may keep her from committingto a new love interest.

Okay, in Murder at the Book Group when itopens, Hazel has been married four times, divorced three times.

She is very reluctantto go down the aisle and has a rocky relationship with her on again off again love interest.

Getting to know your sleuth.

Create a bio for your sleuth and other charactersas well.

It doesn't have to be extensive but you should include their education level,marriage history, health issues, favorite foods, movies, books, and pets.

For example,Hazel Rose went to RIT and met her first husband there.

She has two cats, her favorite movieis double indemnity.

You get the idea.

Get a feeling for how your sleuth responds andhow she speaks.

Writing the story lets you further know your sleuth.

You don't have todo everything up front.

Secondary characters.

They need to be interestingand provide sub plots and diversions through several stories.

You can have quirky an eccentriccharacters but don't make them all that way.

Often authors of mysteries set in small townswill do this but I advise against it.

However, there are very popular mystery authors whoonly have quirky characters so it's really up to you.

If you enjoy a cast of eccentriccharacters, by all means have them in your series.

Secondary characters may be friends,family, co-workers, government workers.

In my work they are Hazel Rose's book membersand family members.

Some secretary characters may be victims at a point in your series.

Secondary characters may be the reasons for the sleuth's involvement in crime solving.

If it's your sleuth's sister and she knows she didn't kill the victim the sleuth is motivated to clear her sister's name and that often the sleuth herself is the mainsuspect and needs to clear her own name.

Some secondary characters will appear in each storyand others show up on the page only on occasion.

More on secondary characters.

Readers welcomesecondary characters but don't hesitate to introduce new ones.

Characters that readerswill care about and will root for.

Characters are often more important than the plot.

Readerslove characters.

If you have a series they'll be looking for their favorites with each book.

This is more the case of contemporary mysteries than with those of Agatha Christie and hercontemporaries.

With them the focus was on the story and not on the characters.

Giveyour characters real problems and let them overcome them.

Give your character choicesthe make.

Show how they grow from bad choices and how their personal relationships growand change mirroring reality.

Make your characters human, even the bad ones.


Make the recurring cast of characters the main theme of your series, it could besleuth's job, her neighborhood, family, location, it could be a hair salon, bar, coffee, workplaceor any gathering place.

In my series the scene is the book group.

It brings together peoplewith a common interest.

They have also contacts.

In my series one book is a writer, a businessprofessional, librarian and retired English teacher that does a lot of volunteer workin the community.

It makes it more realistic because everyone knows everyone: now for thevictim Who is your victim and who wanted him or herdead? Was the victim pleasant or unpleasant? If she was pleasant why does more than oneperson have a motive for killing her? If she was unpleasant, why should the reader careabout her murder? It's best if the sleuth knew the victim as it gives her a compellingreason to get involved in the investigation, plus readers will care more.

The answers thethese questions about the victim will form the heart of your story.

Who is your victim? You may already have a victim in mind.

Here are a few examples, acontrolling husband or lover.

A rich and nasty relative, a demanding boss who passed yourkiller up for a promotion.

Someone who did your killer wrong, either recently or in thepast.

And if this idea comes from your own experience be careful you're not being toorealistic.

If you need ideas for your victim considernews sources, especially local ones.

They can give you inspiration.

Look through theobituaries, letters to the editor, the advice column, that's my favorite.

Local politics,human interest articles.

You'll find ideas like a bookkeeper at a non-profit embezzledfunds.

A high school teacher seduces one of her students.

A relative gets written outof a will and ex acts revenge.

The man's lover stabs his wife and even something like thecountry fair, a blue ribbon winner for the best jam.

Somebody lost that — didn't winthat ribbon and, you know, might not be too happy about it.

Then there are the storiesthat people tell you about their family and friends especially in the workplace.

You know,you hear all kinds of stories when you stop by someone's cubicle or — to get coffee.

So, you know, listen.

Again, then there is the what if scenarios.

What if a certain personscomes into your life after many years.

What if a situation from the past had turned outdifferently? How is the murder committed? There are threeaspects of a crime to always keep in mind.

Means, motive and opportunity.

Is there aspecial knowledge required to commit the murder such as knowledge of poisons, herbs, anatomy,guns? Who among your suspects might have access to this knowledge? There is also the Internetas a resource there.

People do their research.

If a weapon was used, who had access to itand the necessary experience to use it? Does it appear like the victim died of suicide,accident, or of a way other than murder? It can be a good idea to make it appear tobe suicide or accident but don't let those causes be your final solution.

Some authorsdo this but I feel it cheats the readers who want a murder.

I use the suicide employ inmurder in the book group.

I've talked about this before.

Carlene, when she drank cyanide-lacedtea at the book group.

There was a suicide note found near her body and feels certainthe woman was murdered.

Who had the opportunity? Almost anyone at the book group.

It seemsunlikely that anyone took advantage of an opportunity.

Carlene had opened a fresh boxof tea.

So who puts in a dose of cyanide and how? How did the killer even get cyanide?Who is the killer? Again, the three aspects of the crime to keep in mind, means, motiveand opportunity.

Who has the most to gain from the victim's death? Who has the meansto kill? Who knew the victim and has a motive? Who had an opportunity at the time of themurder? Is the killer the one who seems the most likely or the least likely? You don'tlimit yourself to the obvious people.

Consider delivery people, friends, co-workers, in short,everyone acquainted with the victim is a possible suspect.

However, you'll want to limit thenumber of suspects to four or five at the most.

Okay, a visual aid.

Draw a rectangle — >> Maggie, before you go on and you were talkingabout characters, a couple questions have come in.

Do you — any chance that the sleuthin your story is more based on an actual person in your life or maybe even you or do you kindof take characteristics from people you know and bring them together, or you are buildingit from — without any influence of people in your life?>> Oh, yeah, that's a great question.

I would say that my characters are more a compositeof people who I've known, including myself.

There is nobody who is exactly like someonewho I've known in my real life and there is no situation that's exactly the same.

It iskind of like if you're familiar with a Picasso painting, you know, he has got like a person'sface but they're all broken up into fragments and squares and so that's the analogy I havefor my stories.

>> One additional question from Britney, thecharacteristics of the killer.

How can you build suspense with following the killer asthe main character, as in gone girl and how do you build suspense if there is no sleuth?>> It's hard for me to answer that because I haven't written a story like that.

You justhave to consider people and you have to consider the psychology of the characters.

And lookat — have some kind of knowledge or be willing to look at the darkest aspects of people.

And, of course, not everyone wants to do that.

I don't want to get that dark especially asin Gone Girl.

>> Thank you.

>> Okay, thank you.

For a visual aid for considering your killer.

Draw a rectangle and write yourvictim's name inside.

Then draw arrows radiating from the rectangle.

At the end of each arrowdraw another rectangle and write the name of a suspect inside.

Then along the lengthof each arrow write in a possible motive for the corresponding suspects or write a secretthat makes him or her look suspicious.

Why did the crime occur? Did the killer seekrevenge on a spouse or a lover for cheating? Did the killer wish to escape a controllinghusband or boyfriend who wouldn't let her go? Did the killer need to increase her sharesor interest in a business or property? Was the killer being blackmailed by the victim?Was the killer trying to preserve an inheritance for herself or a loved one? Was the killerafraid that a past misdeed would be discovered and ruin a prospective opportunity for moneyand prestige? The possibilities are endless.


The most common motivators for killing.

They are envy, jealousy, rage, greed, revenge,shame and fear.

And then why kill now? Why indeed.

Why did the crime occur now insteadof at another point in the back story? Did something change that threatened the killer?Has a new opportunity arisen for the killer to carry out her plan or is it a crime ofpassion? Creating suspense, or heightening the tension.

Start the story with action, description, or dialogue that entices the reader to keepturning the pages.

Also to heighten the tension put you are character at risk.

Will she loseher job or someone she cares about being impacted? Create a deadline for your sleuth which, ifnot met, results in disaster.

Isolate your characters.

If your sleuth leaves her cellphone at home or her battery goes out or ends up with no coverage she could be the gravedanger, or feel like she is.

Hook the reader from the opening page by suggesting a crisisor major change for your sleuth or victim.

For example, I'll read the opening of a bodyto die for by Kate White.

When I think back on everything terrible that happened thatautumn, the murders, the grim discovery I made.

The danger I found myself in I realizedI probably could have avoided all of it if my love life hadn't been so sucky or non-existent.

Late in the summer I had been kicked to a curb by a — was gaga over.

So when I wasinvited to spend an early fall weekend free of charge at the inn and spa in Warren, MassachusettsI grabbed the chance.

I go nuts for a good massage and was hoping that a few of thoseand a change of scenery will improve my mood and jump start my heart.

Soon after I arrivedat the inn all hell broke loose.

So does that opening peak your interest? It did mine.

Ikept turning the pages until I read the end.

Creating suspense.

Going on with this.

Createfalse alarms for your sleuth.

The next time the alarm will signal something real and thesleuth won't react fast enough, if at all.

End each chapter with a hook that will compelthe reader to keep reading and lose sleep.

Short paragraphs and sentences step up thepacing.

Avoid lengthy descriptions and passages of intro spec shun.

I try to include backstory in dialogue or in short passages making it seem more natural.

Limit back story towhat relates to the current situation.

There is an author who I live but I get impatientwith her long back story passages that she includes with each and every book in her series.

Every conversation should have a purpose and result in new information to move the storyalong.

more on creating suspect.

Include conflict in every scene.

Keep the story moving anddon't get bogged down especially in the middle.

Have something surprising happen.

Authorswill produce a second dead body midway in the story or a plot switch that will sendyour sleuth investigating in another direction.

When I presented my debut mystery to my agenthe said great, I love it.

It sags in the middle.

Straighten it up and cut 10,000 words.

I saidokay, but I really had no idea how I would eliminate 10,000 words.

I did and it wasn'tall that hard, really.

I scrutinized it carefully and had a ruthless friend who I got involvedand found unnecessary things in characters that ended up on the cutting room floor.

Letreaders experience your sleuth's emotional responses of anxiety, excitement and fear.

Follow action scenes with scenes of reflection.

Don't have one hair-raising scene after another.

Rather, balance those scenes.

You can do that by revealing and updating the roster of suspectsor by having a romantic dinner.

Use foreshadowing to suggest that somethingbad will happen later in the story.

Here is an example of foreshadowing from the novelwriting help website.

An old man is sitting at his desk looking at his stamp collection.

When he opens the drawer for his magnifying glass his fingers brush against a revolver.

Finds the magnifying glass and closes the drawer.

So you can guess that the gun wouldn'thave been mentioned if it wasn't going to be fired later in this novel.

The investigation.

Your sleuth questions the suspects.

Have the suspects divert attentionfrom the killer by giving each one of them a secret.

The secret doesn't have to haveanything to do with the victim or with the murder.

The suspect may be protecting someone.

The suspect may have committed a crime that has nothing to do with the murder such asembezzling.

Suspect may have a long-held grudge against the victim.

Or the suspect is payingbills for a relative and for some reason doesn't want that known.

Or it could be the suspect has a child from a long-ago affair and she doesn't want thatrevealed.

Have the suspects tell both lies and truth.

Have them rat on each other.


As far as alibis go, not everyone will have one or one that can be verified.

Some suspects are hesitant to reveal alibis and may lie about their whereabouts.

Maybethey were somewhere they should not have been like having an affair and not wanting to befound out.

Some alibis will contradict something said by another suspect.

Avoid a logical sequence of events.

Add curves, twists and red herrings.

Figure out how eachsuspect's secret will be revealed to your sleuth.

Thwart the sleuth whenever possibleto give her successes as well.

Clues and red herrings.

A clue is a pieceof information that points to the killer.

A red herring is a piece of information thatsends the sleuth in the wrong direction or points to a suspect that isn't the killer.

And who is the red herring throughout your story? Distract your readers when you dropa clue.

Make it seem insignificant in comparison to something else or overshadow the clue witha red herring that seems very important.

For example, the sleuth learns the victim wasblack mailing one of the suspects.

The suspect needed the money for his kid's surgery anddidn't want to keep paying it out to the victim.

Present a clue, then immediately create adiversion.

A character walking in on a scene or a phone call.

And disguise clues by listinga number of items.

Things in the middle of a list get less attention.

Comb, keys, lighter,wallet, pen possible contents of a purse.

The lighter is the least-noticed item andmay be the item that points to the killer.

More on clues and red herrings.

Use red herringsinvolving other suspects to distract from the killer.

Uncover includes through omission.

Have something missing from the seen.

The sleuth may not notice that it's missing butlater it seems significant.

Have something out of place in a scene.

Play a cat and mousegame by having the killer trying to match wits with the sleuth.

In so doing the killermay slip and drop an important clue.

Give the reader all the clues and information thatyour sleuth receives.

Okay, the solution.

Have the sleuth gatherall the clues together and name the killer at the same time as your readers.

At somepoint in the story, have the sleuth itemize the clues.

Convey emotional reactions likepan ill and fear such as heart racing or heart hammering.

Dry mouth, dry throat.

Make thepacing quick but capture every detail and nuance.

The wrap scene.

The wrap scene typically takes place with the sleuth's friends and family.

Review recent events and discoveries, including why the killer killed.

Have the sleuth explainhow she figured out who the murderer was.

Ideally the sleuth has a moments of personalgrowth.

Murder at the Book Group Hazel Rose goes from being in a route to what she wantsfrom life.

The sleuth should never lose the reader's interest in a contemporary series.

In Agatha Christie's day readers really didn't care about the character, they only caredabout the story.

Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple didn’t change much from the beginning.

Youwant your mystery to be completely solved and your reader can have a sense of satisfaction.

The ending is what readers take away when they close the book.

To the reader the charactersand the story ending matter the most and what they will remember.

In conclusion, writing a mystery is a complex, challenging task.

Today has just been an overview.

It will take several webinars, you know, to adequately teach you how to write a mystery.

But writing a mystery is a complex and challenging task.

And to summarize you need to createa likable but imperfect sleuth, you need to create an appealing cast of supporting characters.

Develop your victim, crime, killer and suspects.

Add clues and red herrings.

Plan how yoursleuth will uncover the clues and then you have your grand finale.

>> Maggie? Before you go on I have a couple questions that have come in from Margaret.

Margaret is curious.

She has a couple of them and I'll read one or two at a time.

Do youcreate an outline and do you know the ending before you actually begin to write?>> Okay.

Yes, I do know the ending.

It's almost like working backwards.

Not every author does,but that's what I do.

As far as an outline, I have a general outline but it's very flexiblebecause I change it as I go along.

Now, there are different kinds of writers, there is theplotter.

Someone who has a strict outline and has it all done and they follow the outlineabsolutely.

And then there is a panther and that's somebody who does no outline.

Theyjust sit down and write.

I believe Stephen King calls himself a panther.

And of courseStephen King is very successful, so it works for him.

And then there are the plotter, whodo a combination of a plodder and a panther and I consider myself to be that because Ihave an outline I follow but sometimes the characters — authors will tell you the characterstell them what they want to do and that's very true.

It can sound odd to some peoplebut it's true.

Your characters will inspire you.

>> Thank you.

Margaret has two other questions and then we'll wrap up today's webinar unlessthere are more.

Margaret wants to know how do you collect your story details? Do youuse the old school index card notebooks or new age writers app and do you write longhand or on a computer? >> I do my creative work long hand and thenI kind of transcribe to the computer.

So I like to, you know, sit in a nice easy chairwith my legal pad and write that way.

To me it's writing moving my hand with the pen andthe ink.

That's what — that's how it works for me.

That's more real to me than workingat the computer.

And what was the second part of the question?>> Do your story details, where do you collect them? Old school on paper or maybe on a writer'sapp.

>> They're on paper.

I'm not using an app.

I do have on my computer, I have — I have a word document for story ideas and I collectthem all in there.

And I do have a paper file.

I might see things when I'm reading the newspaperthat I cut out and put in there.

Different ways to collect.

But I don't have an app forit, not yet, anyway.

>> Thank you.

That's all for now.

>> Okay.


These have been great questions.

Now, music to your ears, what you want tohear from readers is I never guessed who the killer was, I was so surprised.

Another thingyou might want to hear is I really got into your characters.

Take away.

Read many mysteries.

You will probably write what you like the read.

Whether that's traditional mysteriesor thrillers or suspense.

There is a lot of overlap in genres as well.

They aren't strictbut sometimes when you're starting off you may want to stay within the parameters ofthe genre.

It's all about your readers.

Make them care about your characters and nevergive up.

If you want to write a mystery don't let anyone, including yourself, discourageyou.

>> Here are my favorite traditional mysterywriters.

Susan Albert, Agatha Christie, Nancy J.

Cohen, Mary Daheim, Gillian Roberts, JoanSmith and many, many more.

I went to a convention of traditional mystery writers both domesticin Bethesda, Maryland and there were 600 there.

That's just a fraction.

So that brings meto the last polling question.

I would like to know who are your favorite mystery authors?Here are some resources for you.

Writing the Cozy Mystery by Nancy J.


You can writea mystery, how to write killer fiction and here are a few websites.

Of course, this isjust a fraction of the help that's available.

I can make these resources and more of themavailable to you.

And now I'll take any other questions you may have.

>> Thank you, Maggie.

We're closing the poll.

Last opportunity for folks to submit theirquestions.

I'm looking and scanning to see if there are any additional ones.

Oh, we just– Maggie says she knows what her ending is going to be first.

Maggie, of your list offavorite authors, is there someone on that list that is your go-to?>> I think Gillian Roberts and Joan Smith.

>> Why would you say that?>> Okay.

I just like the way — I love their characters and I just feel like especiallythe Joan Smith.

She is British and I feel like they're very realistic and they're believable.

You can believe that somebody who is not a detective or someone not trained in apprehendingkillers would get involved in these situations.

And sometimes it isn't really believable butyou suspend your belief because you enjoy the story and the characters.

Joan Smith Ithink that they're believable.

>> We have a question from Sean.

He wantsto know.

Is it suitable for the killer to get away at the end or does it make the storyseem pointless if the sleuth doesn't succeed? >> Okay.

Well, readers tend to — especiallyin traditional mysteries readers don't like that when authors do that.

But, you know,you certainly can do it especially if — sometimes people have — might have an ongoing trilogygoing on and they are continuing the story into another book.

And then it could be acceptable.

As long as the killer eventually gets apprehended.

But generally I wouldn't suggest it.

>> Thank you.

Question from J.


How do you market or sell your books and do you use traditionalpublishers or go on your own and use something like ink shares.


>> I have been traditionally published so far.

I may venture on my own eventually.

Onsomething like create space.

So far I'm traditionally published and I'm sorry, what was the secondpart of the question? >> Or do you use something like ink shares.

Com?>> No, no, traditionally published.

As far as you also ask about marketing and promotion.

I go on tours after I write the book.

I have a launch locally in Richmond and invite peopleto that.

I go on blog tours.

I've also — there are companies that they will — if you paythem a fee, they will promote your book on their mailing list and usually — that's forthe E-book which usually will reduce to 99 cents and that does very well.

So I wouldsay it was mostly blogging.

I do a lot of appearances.

I have do a lot of panels andtry to think what else I do.

I've been interviewed on the radio and TV.

The day I was on localTV.

My sales shot way up that day.

I would suggest many on TV.

It's there for the askingif you haven't done it before.

>> Okay.

We have a logistical question fromTheodore.

What is the word count you would suggest in a story like the ones you havewritten? >> Okay.

Well, the minimum is usually 70,000.

And they go up to like maybe 90,000.

I think my first book was probably around 92,000.

And my second book was maybe 80,000.

It was — my second one was better because it wastighter writing.

We do improve with each book.

>> Fantastic.

Thank you.

That's about allthe time we have, Maggie.

Any additional questions can be emailed to me or RIT or tweet them.

We will get you answers from Maggie to any questions you send at the conclusion of thiswebinar.

As a reminder, you will all receive an email from us probably early next weekwith a link to today's recording complete with captions and again I thank all of youfor joining but special thanks to Maggie for being our presenter today.

Please considerjoining us on May 16th, next week, for the webinar called Inches or Centimeters, An Introductionto Doing Business in Latin America.

The speaker will be Mr.

Rudy Winsberg.

Attend this webinarbefore you get started if you want to go to Latin America.

Close your WebEx window andtake the brief and anonymous customer satisfaction survey about this webinar when you exit.

Havea great afternoon, all, take care.

>> Thank you.

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