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Five Tips for Writing an Effective Mystery or Suspense Story

Updated: Jun 4, 2022

Hello there! My name is Amanda Amico and I am a new guest writer here at www.voxchronos.net. I must say, I am a little confused about the process through which I was hired. Yesterday, someone named Vox Chronos sent me an invitation to write through the computer. here I was, writing for my own blog when a mysterious static sound came from the speakers of my computer. It sounded similar to someone cycling through AM radio frequencies except...it was through my computer.


As I was trying to pinpoint the source of the sound, my screen flickered and flashed the words “incoming transmission” at the top left corner as a message box from an unknown source popped up on my screen. I didn’t even click anything for it to open! At this point, Vox Chronos briefly introduced himself and quickly explained my assignment as his guest writer. He then discussed a form of payment and currency I am still unfamiliar with. I can still hear his metallic voice ringing over the speakers of my computer.


Just as quickly as he came, Vox Chronos left, and the message box closed on my computer. I was unable to reach out for further clarification from Mr. Chronos. Later, I checked my email and found a file from an unknown source. I was surprised to see that the file was a blueprint of some sort of device. Now that I think about it, the sketches on the blueprints seemed to be of some sort of weapon. These designs also included what appeared to be instructions written in a different language.


Anyhow, I hope they weren’t important. Since the blueprints were written in a language I had never seen, I am currently using them as a coaster for my coffee mug. Perhaps Vos Chronos will send me instructions and blueprints written in English next time.


Although I am a bit befuddled, I am overjoyed to be writing for you and sharing my knowledge on the writing process! Five Tips for Writing an Effective Mystery or Suspense Story


With the promise of crime, action, and excitement, it is no wonder why Mystery and Suspense has become one of the world’s most popular novel genres! Readers from all over the world are in constant search for the next amazing mystery to invigorate their imaginations and get lost in. Since there is a high demand for this genre, there is a greater responsibility placed on the shoulders of Mystery and Suspense writers to produce new ideas that haven’t been done before.


Writing a compelling page-turner takes a lot of careful planning paired with experience and understanding of the genre. Mystery and Suspense novels are not known for their straight-forward and linear content, and plotting an engaging storyline with the perfect twists and turns can be quite the undertaking! Here are five essential tips to writing an effective Mystery of Suspense Story:


Table of Contents:

  1. Become an Expert

  2. Know Every Twist and Turn

  3. Don’t Let Your Characters Relax

  4. Create Believable Characters

  5. Know When to Stop


Become an Expert

It may sound cliche, but it really does help to be an avid reader in the genre you are writing. Digesting already-published Mystery and Suspense novels will give you a taste for what readers are loving about the genre. In addition, it will give you a taste for how to format your own story!


Reading successful Mystery and Suspense novels can also serve as a guide if you are ever unsure of how to proceed in your own story. Check out the novels that include some of the same elements of your story, and pay attention to how the author creates a mysterious and suspenseful atmosphere for their readers.


Know Every Twist and Turn

It is no secret amongst writers that Mystery and Suspense is one of the toughest genres to write! With readers expecting so many twists and turns within the plot, it can be difficult for writers to pull off such complex storylines. It is recommended that writers of Mystery and Suspense plot out their stories, on some level, before jumping in.


With the world of writers being divided between “plotters” and “pansters” this may be a controversial tip. However, plotting out a story ahead of time is sure to save you from having to possibly rewrite large chunks of a piece when you’re ready to wrap it up. If you are an in-depth plotter, you can subscribe to programs such as Scrivener or even Microsoft’s One Note. If a fancy program is not your calling, Google Docs can be a great organization tool as well!


Don’t Let Your Characters Relax

The best Mystery and Suspense novels always have characters who are on the move or in a constant state of alertness. If you allow your characters to relax for too long in the story, your readers will also relax. This isn’t good; no one picks up a Mystery and Suspense novel for a calm read.


To avoid your readers from getting bored, create a sense of uneasiness throughout your story. Even when your characters are not experiencing an action scene, they should be anticipating something to happen. This will keep your readers up late at night turning pages!


Create Believable Characters

This tip is not exclusive to the Mystery and Suspense genre. Readers connect best and become addicted to storylines that involve believable and relatable characters. As such, creating believable characters is a sure way to help your readers identify and bond with the subjects in your story.


You can start by people-watching. That’s right, observe real-life people and take a mental note of how they react in various situations. Apply this knowledge to your story and, while you are writing, try to predict how normal people would act in the situations you are creating for your characters. This will create an easy read for your fans, and your relatable characters will keep them coming back for more!


Know When to Stop

While planning your Mystery and Suspense story is it important to know when enough is enough. Readers definitely enjoy a good plot twist or two. However, too many turns may cause your audience to become mentally exhausted while attempting to follow your plot.


Take note of how already-published authors add surprises in their novels while also keeping their readers’ attention. Before you begin the writing process, you can run your storyline by a fellow writer to gauge their opinion on the amounts of plot twists you have included. Knowing the difference between too little and too many plot twists is definitely a delicate balance!


About Me

I grew up in a small town in Missouri, and I believe that shaped my view of the world. Rather than having that typical small town stereotypical mindset, growing up around the same type of people gave me an undying curiosity for the unknown. I enjoy traveling to new places, meeting people from all over the world, and exploring new foods! I’m a highschool English teacher and an online freelance writer with a lifestyle and writer’s blog at: www.the-novice.com. When I’m not working, you can find me out getting coffee with friends or at home with my cat and dog dreaming of the next adventure.



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