10 Quick Steps to Writing Mystery Books: Unleash Your Inner Agatha Christie!

Writing Mystery Books Unleash Your Inner Agatha Christie!

Writing Mystery BooksA riveting mystery novel can captivate readers, lead them on an exhilarating journey of clues, plot twists, and unexpected revelations. But what does it take to write mystery books that grip readers from the first page to the last? Crafting a compelling mystery requires an understanding of the genre, meticulous plot planning, well-rounded characters, suspense-building, and a setting that enhances the overall atmosphere of the book.

Whether you’re a seasoned author seeking to explore a new genre or a new writer who is passionate about mysteries, this comprehensive guide aims to equip you with valuable insights and strategies that will aid in your journey of writing mystery books. Purchase my book Mystery Book Empire to learn how to write short mystery books today!

Understanding the Genre of Mystery Books

Before you embark on writing mystery books, it’s vital to understand the genre’s distinctive elements and nuances. At its core, a mystery novel revolves around a puzzle or enigma that needs to be solved. The protagonist – often a detective or sleuth – is tasked with unraveling this mystery, with various clues and twists scattered along their path.

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Dive deep into the genre by reading works of celebrated authors. Classic mystery writers like Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle and modern authors like Stephen King and Gillian Flynn offer an insight into the mechanics of mystery storytelling. Analyze their plots, their character developments, their pacing, and how they build suspense. The more mysteries you read, the better you’ll understand the genre’s intricacies. Check out Mystery Book Empire to learn more about how to write a series of short mystery books.

Crafting the Central Mystery

The heart of any mystery novel is, of course, the central mystery itself. This could be a crime, a disappearance, or any unexplained event that provokes curiosity. It is the puzzle that your protagonist has to solve, the question that needs an answer. Your central mystery should be intriguing enough to capture and hold the reader’s interest.

When writing mystery books, it’s essential to plan your central mystery carefully. Consider what kind of mystery will be compelling to your readers. Will it be a simple whodunit or a complex web of deceit? Will it involve a high-stakes crime or a personal secret? Plan out your clues, red herrings, and the eventual resolution, ensuring each element aligns with the narrative.

Planning Your Plot

A well-planned plot is the foundation of a successful mystery novel. Unlike other genres, mystery books require careful plotting as every clue, every event, and every character interaction could play a part in the final resolution.

When you write mystery books, start with a clear picture of the end – the solution to the mystery. Then, work backward to plant clues and red herrings, develop motives, and build suspense. Make sure every scene moves the plot forward or develops a character, keeping the story engaging. Purchase Mystery Book Empire to learn more.

Setting the Scene

The setting of your mystery novel plays a significant role in setting the tone and mood of your story. It can add depth to your narrative and can become a character in its own right. A gloomy mansion, a small, secluded town, or a bustling city with dark corners, every place holds potential for mystery.

When writing mystery books, ensure your setting complements your plot. Describe it in a way that adds suspense and intrigue. Use it to foreshadow events, hide clues, or mislead the readers, but remember, the setting should immerse the reader in the story and contribute to the overall mystery.

Weaving the Red Herrings in Mystery Books

When you delve into writing mystery books, mastering the art of red herrings is a skill you must equip yourself with. Red herrings are false clues that are strategically planted to mislead readers. They’re the trick cards you play, the hidden alleys in a maze, the misleading signposts that divert the reader from the true path of resolution.

In writing mystery books, using red herrings effectively can create a complex narrative web that teases the readers’ minds, steering them towards conclusions far from the actual solution. They boost the surprise factor, ensuring your readers remain captivated and intrigued.

However, it’s essential to employ red herrings wisely. Too many can turn your plot into an indecipherable riddle, overwhelming the reader with too many possibilities. Sparse use might leave the mystery too bare and easily solvable. Therefore, finding a balance is key. Ensure that each red herring appears natural and plausible, seamlessly blending with your narrative flow.

Striking a Balance Between Dialogue and Narrative When Writing Mystery Books

In your journey to write mystery books, balancing dialogue and narrative is another crucial element. Too much dialogue can make your story feel like a screenplay, while a narrative-heavy story might lack the immediacy and character development that dialogues provide.

Dialogues are essential in character development. They portray personality, give life to your characters, and allow readers to connect with them on a deeper level. A well-written dialogue can disclose motives, reveal hidden emotions, and even sow the seeds of doubt, all while maintaining the pace and tension of the story.

The narrative provides readers with the context, describes the setting, and unravels the plot. Through it, you can immerse the reader in the scene’s mood, build suspense, and subtly drop clues.

When you write mystery books, consider your narrative and dialogue as two sides of the same coin, both critical in crafting a riveting story. The goal is to intertwine them so seamlessly that your readers are equally invested in your characters as they are in the unraveling mystery.

Developing Intriguing Characters

Characters are the heartbeat of every novel, and this is especially true when you write mystery books. Your characters should be multidimensional and relatable, with their motivations and flaws contributing to the overall mystery. They should be complex enough to keep your readers guessing their next move.

Engaging Your Reader with Suspense and Tension

As an author of mystery books, your goal is to create an environment of suspense and tension that glues the readers to the pages. The anticipation of the unknown keeps the readers engaged, guessing, and constantly on the edge of their seats. This requires careful pacing, strategic placement of clues, and expert storytelling. The climax should be worth the suspense, making the reader’s journey through the pages worthwhile.

How to Start a Mystery Story Examples

Welcome to a realm where imagination merges with intrigue, and the thrill of unraveling enigmas awaits. Within this section, we present you with a collection of ten tantalizing mystery story starters, designed to ignite your creativity and set your literary journey in motion. These writing prompts are the keys that unlock the doors to captivating narratives, inviting you to embark on thrilling adventures that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

As you explore these prompts, envision yourself stepping into a world where the ordinary takes on an extraordinary twist. From locked rooms and disappearing jewels to masked guests and shattered statues, each story starter offers a glimpse into a mystery waiting to be unraveled. These carefully crafted scenarios are seeds planted in the fertile ground of your imagination, ready to bloom into enthralling tales of suspense and intrigue.

Through the enigmatic threads woven into these story starters, you will find hidden motives, perplexing clues, and unexpected plot twists. As you delve into the depths of each scenario, imagine the characters that will come to life, the settings that will breathe with atmosphere, and the puzzles that will challenge both your protagonist and your readers.

Remember, these prompts are merely the starting points for your own unique journeys into the world of mystery. Deviate, adapt, and interweave elements as you see fit. Allow your creativity to soar as you craft intricate plots, compelling characters, and intricate webs of suspense that will captivate and intrigue your readers until the last revelation.

So, with a quill in hand and the spirit of adventure in your heart, let us embark on this mysterious expedition. Step into the realm of imagination, embrace the unknown, and let your words unfold the mysteries that lie within these story starters. The stage is set, and the curtain is drawn. It’s time to begin your thrilling journey into the captivating world of mystery storytelling.

  1. The Locked Room: A world-renowned magician is found dead in a locked room, with no signs of a struggle or an escape route. The only clue is a strange symbol scrawled on a piece of paper in his hand.
  2. The Disappearing Jewel: The priceless royal gem, secured in a high-tech, impenetrable vault, has inexplicably vanished overnight. The CCTV footage reveals nothing unusual.
  3. The Uninvited Guest: During a grand ball at an old mansion, an unknown guest in a mask is found dead. However, every invited guest swears they didn’t invite or recognize the victim.
  4. The Shattered Statue: An ancient statue in a museum breaks apart, revealing a hidden message from centuries ago. The message is connected to a secret society and a long-forgotten treasure.
  5. The Ghost Town: A bustling seaside town is suddenly abandoned overnight. Food is still on tables, cars are on the street, but there’s no sign of a single resident.
  6. The Time Capsule: A time capsule from a century ago is opened, revealing an eerily accurate prophecy of current events. The last part of the prophecy hints at a looming disaster.
  7. The Forgotten Identity: A woman wakes up in a city she doesn’t recognize, with no memory of who she is. However, she possesses inexplicable skills, like picking locks and speaking multiple languages fluently.
  8. The Phantom Ship: A ship believed to be lost at sea years ago mysteriously returns to the harbor. The ship is undamaged, but there’s no crew aboard – just a diary that ended on the day the ship disappeared.
  9. The Double Life: After a humble librarian’s accidental death, it’s discovered that he led a secret life as a thief, stealing rare books from around the world. The question remains: who was he working for?
  10. The Last Will: A billionaire leaves a cryptic last will, pointing to a hidden fortune. The will sets off a scramble among potential heirs, leading to a series of events that reveal a twisted family history.

Each of these prompts can serve as an exciting starting point for your mystery novel, igniting your creativity and driving your plot forward.

Writing a Mystery Story Template

Here is a basic template in table format for writing a mystery novel:

IntroductionIntroduce the protagonist, supporting characters, and the setting. Also, hint at the underlying mystery or conflict that will drive the plot.
Inciting IncidentThe event or situation that triggers the main problem or mystery. It should pique the reader’s curiosity and set the protagonist on their journey.
Investigation StartThe protagonist investigates the mystery. Introduce clues, suspects, and red herrings to keep the reader engaged.
Twists and TurnsThe plot thickens with unexpected twists, increased danger, and complicating factors. The protagonist might face setbacks and false leads.
ClimaxThe point of highest tension in the story where the protagonist confronts the villain or the central mystery. It’s the turning point that leads towards the resolution.
ResolutionThe aftermath of the climax where the protagonist solves the mystery. The threads of the plot are tied up, and the reader discovers the full truth.
ConclusionThe final outcome for the characters after the resolution of the mystery. It can be a return to normalcy or a hint at future adventures, leaving readers satisfied yet eager for more.

Remember, while this template provides a general structure, every mystery novel is unique and can deviate from this format. Adapt it according to your story’s needs.

Writing Mystery Books FAQ

How do you write a good mystery book?

Writing a good mystery book involves creating suspense and intrigue. Start with an intriguing premise, then craft a plot filled with twists and turns to keep readers guessing. Develop well-rounded characters, particularly your detective and culprit, making them multi-dimensional with clear motivations. Be fair to your readers by planting clues throughout the story, but also skillfully misdirect them with red herrings. Finally, ensure the resolution is satisfying and logical, based on the clues provided.

What is the writing style of mystery novels?

The writing style of mystery novels varies, but there are common features. These include a succinct, direct style to maintain pace and suspense. Detailed descriptions are often used to set scenes and create atmosphere. Mystery writers commonly use dramatic irony, where the reader knows something that the characters don’t, to heighten suspense. Dialogue is critical, often used to reveal clues and character traits.

Is mystery hard to write?

Writing mystery can be challenging, as it requires careful plot construction, effective pacing, and skilled handling of suspense. The author must strike a balance between keeping the readers guessing and giving them enough information to solve the mystery themselves. Yet, like any genre, it becomes easier with practice, understanding of the genre's conventions, and a well-developed plan.

How do you structure a mystery novel?

Structuring a mystery novel often follows a traditional plot structure with unique genre elements. The story generally starts with the discovery of a crime. The middle part includes the investigation, where the detective encounters various suspects, clues, and red herrings. Towards the end, the detective typically has a revelation that leads to solving the mystery. In the resolution, the detective confronts the culprit, and the loose ends are tied up. Throughout the story, it's important to maintain suspense, gradually revealing information while keeping the reader engaged and curious.


In the realm of literature, writing mystery books holds a special charm. It allows authors to weave a web of suspense, intrigue, and excitement, ensnaring readers and leading them through a labyrinth of clues and red herrings towards a satisfying conclusion. This journey, while complex and challenging, can also be incredibly rewarding.

With an understanding of the genre, a well-planned plot, captivating characters, an immersive setting, and a mastery over suspense-building, you can create a mystery novel that leaves an indelible impact on the reader. It’s about crafting a puzzle that not only baffles the mind but also engages the emotions, providing an unforgettable reading experience.

So, don’t delay. The future of mystery writing awaits you. Embark on your journey to becoming a successful mystery writer today with the help of “Mystery Book Empire“.

You can also learn about writing science fiction, romance, and fantasy.

Richard Lowe
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Writing a novel is on my list, maybe it will be a mystery? In any case I know where to come for the best advice. Your blog is full of helpful info and resources.


I love a good mystery story! I would love to explore writing in this genre one of these days.


You had me at Agatha Christie! Thanks for providing the story prompts and templates! I am saving this for later.

Knycx Journeying

Mystery stories are my favorite genre and thanks a lot for listing the important elements about writing mysterious storyline and I think it will be useful and inspiring to a lot of writers :)

Catherine Kay

Reading your post about writing mystery books is like unlocking a treasure trove of secrets! Putting these tips to use will enable a person to write like Agatha Christie!

Kimberley Asante

Your advice on writing mystery books is a game-changer! Your clear explanations and practical tips make crafting a mystery novel feel less daunting. Thank you for sharing your expertise and making the journey into mystery fiction so much more enjoyable!


Mystery novels are my favorite! I enjoy the creativity that goes into putting together books that keep me on the edge of my seat with suspense. I am a big fan of plot twists too. Great tips — I don’t know if I could be this creative to write a mystery.