How to Write a Mystery: A Handbook from Mystery Writers of America by Lee Child

How to Write a Mystery by Lee Child

Mystery Writers of America (MWA) is known for providing unparalleled resources on the craft, art, and business of storytelling, helping writers of all levels improve their skills for nearly a century. Now, this new handbook helps authors navigate the ever-shifting publishing landscape—from pacing, plotting, the business side of publishing, to the current demand for diversity and inclusivity across all genres, and more.

Featuring essays by a new generation of bestselling experts on various elements of the craft and shorter pieces of crowd-sourced wisdom from the MWA membership as a whole, the topics covered can be categorized as follows:

—Before Writing (rules; genres; setting; character; research; etc.)
—While Writing (outlining; the plot; dialogue; mood; etc.)
—After Writing (agents; editors; self-pub; etc.)
—Other than Novels (short stories; true crime; etc.)
—Other Considerations (diverse characters; legal questions; criticism)

Also included is a collection of essays from MWA published authors—including Jeffery Deaver, Tess Gerritsen, and Charlaine Harris—selected by bestselling authors Lee Child and Laurie King and arranged thematically answering, “What piece of writing advice do you wish you’d had at the beginning of your career?”

Highly anticipated and incredibly useful, this new and trusted guide from MWA’s experts provides practical, current, easily digestible advice for new and established authors alike.


Rating: 5 out of 5.

How to Write a Mystery: A Handbook from Mystery Writers of America by Lee Child

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Such a wonderful resource! I’d highly recommend this to writers whether seasoned or new and readers alike.

It clarified a lot for me. Having spent most of my life all about academia, I feel like I’ve missed the mystery story train and how it has developed over the years, all the sub classifications, the readers/writership community, and understanding the components of what a mystery actually entails and how one keeps you intrigued.

It’s well-organized and deconstructed in that it gives a good overview, plenty of historical context, and lots of examples. It’s not a single rubric or prescriptive approach, instead provides personal essays from fabulous individual authors who share methodology and ideas to get you on the right track by showing what works for them.

Loved, loved, loved all the different perspectives. I love the opposing viewpoints. Every author had so much to contribute to my every-expanding garden of writing knowledge, not one page was left unannotated.

My earliest mystery fiction reads were Nancy Drew, Stephen King, Agatha Christie, and Dean Koontz. So writing what I love and what is inspiring to me with roots established by authors who have gone before me, has become another story in finding out the why and the how of what works and what doesn’t work in creative writing.

This book covers a wide arrangement of subject matter including the span of mystery genre/subgenres and rewriting drafts, along with topics I was less clear about like YA demographic, diversity with thoughts of cultures of memory, own voices and cultural appropriation, graphic novels, and copyright. All sorts of tidbits of information that I devoured.

It helped me to understand the lingo and formation of subgenres and what avenues may represent ideas best.

It’s a book I’ll be referencing time and time again.

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<span class="uppercase">Hello, I'm Erica </span>
Hello, I’m Erica

Recipe developer, book reviewer, and artist. Expect delicious recipes both traditional and new, book reviews of all sorts of genres, a variety of creative expression, life musings, and much more!



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