What makes a mystery pt 1 - The hidden plot

When I decided to get serious about writing *and finishing* a novel, I knew it would be a mystery. Partly, because I read so many, partly because I liked that the story had a built in engine - solve the crime.

What I didn't realize when I started was the "hidden plot" that goes into mysteries. Not a secondary plot, or a subplot, but a plot I kept guarded in shadows.

I'd analyzed all sorts of things about books - I was a lit major for heaven's sake - I could squeeze more meaning out of a book than the author ever intended. But structure was new to me.

So I just started writing. Then, about 20 pages in, I realized that I needed to figure out the hidden plot. I needed to know who the killer was (always helpful!), what his motivations were, how he pulled off what he did, where he was at all times - then I had to not tell the reader. Instead, I had to lay it underneath the obvious plot of the book and let it show through.

It reminded me of when I made my Christmas cards and had one image peeking out from behind the vellum on top. I needed to show bits of the hidden plot to the readers all the way through the book, and then reveal it in the end in a way that will make them say "Ah, I see! It was there all along!"

That has been my big push during this second draft of the book, making sure that plot was solid, and seen but not seen too much. Like hiding easter eggs in the living room - or in Lost. ;)


Welcome to my new Mystery blog! I hope we have lots of fun here discussing life, writing, and mysteries.

First, an explanation - the working title of my novel is Murder on a Moonlit Sea, hence the name of the blog. As I write more, I'll probably change the blog title to something more overarching. But for now, it inspires me to keep working!!

Current status update is that I'm about 45,086 words into the edits, with a total of 80,000 to edit. I've actually edited more words than that, but have cut a lot, so the word count keeps shrinking!! I'm still aiming to be done by the end of July.

That's all for now!! In the next few days I'll stop updating the old blog to focus on this one, so you'll probably want to update your links. :)

That's all for now!