Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Guest Post: Judith White, Mystery Writer

Today we welcome to the blog Judith White, a writer of detective and mystery novels.

Judith White
I once read an article in which was said that the mystery author possesses a high IQ. No, honest, I did! Now, I'm not sure that is true in all cases. I would like it to be fact, though. You see, I am an author of mysteries; four of them to date. Yet, whether that pertains to me personally or not...and there is much room for doubt...I do know that writing a mystery novel is damned hard work, although some have made it look quite easy when the final product is in print. One who comes to mind is my favorite writer of whodunits, Agatha Christie. What a wicked tale she could weave! Dame Agatha wrote approximately 80 detective novels in her lifetime, along with other pieces of fiction. With each one, the woman combined all the elements of a great mystery.

Yes, there are certain elements one has to intertwine in the narrative if one is to be successful in capturing reader audience and admiration.

While I could go through the list of ingredients that are needed for a complete mystery novel...such as the who, how, where, why, etc., I'll tell you what stands out in my mind as one of the most important. For example, X murders Y with an obscure poison at the beach house behind the country estate because...because...well, darn it! Why did X commit such a heinous act? In my humble estimation, X has to have a pretty substantial reason for wanting to get rid of Y! And that reason had better be plausible to the reader. The motive must be totally believable. To me, it's the most important aspect. If a mystery author isn't successful in creating a believable scenario, he or she won't be successful in selling many books.

Have you ever read a mystery novel and, while it being pretty engrossing, you plod through it only to find out a barely mentioned character committed the crime because of a minor infraction the victim committed toward his or her nemesis? I have, and it made me angry; so much so that I didn't desire to read any further work by that author. Number one, the murderer has to be an integral part of the story. How else are arm-chair detectives to put together a rational deduction while reading the story? And number two, the motivation behind the crime had better be solid. Otherwise, the reader will view the work as stupid and lame.

At present, I am developing in my mind a credible motive for my fifth Sam Flanagan mystery novel, and I am hoping and praying that I own even a fraction of the genius of Dame Agatha Christie.

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1 comment:

  1. Looking forward to that fifth novel! You are a master mystery writer!