“Problem” And “Solution” Elements of Mystery Writing

Every writers knows a story has five basic and important elements: characters, setting, plot, conflict, and resolution.

However, for writing in the mystery genre, we change the elements to: characters, setting, plot, problem, and solution.  These essential elements keep the story running smoothly and allow the clues to the solution of the mystery to be revealed in a logical way that the reader can follow.

Every mystery has a problem to solve, usually who committed a crime and why.  As writers, we should strive to fill mystery stories with clues, so that the reader can try to solve the puzzle along with the characters.  As a reader and writer, I love to find and use false clues just to throw the characters off.    As a writer, you keep the reader on their toes and ensure they’re paying attention to the story.  As a reader, when an author throws me a curve with a false clue I fall in love with the cleverness of the author and I’m more likely to read more of their work.

The solution to the problem is the way the action is resolved. By finding a missing item or the person who stole it, for example.  It is important that the solution be believable.  As writers, we must be sure to include all the clues necessary for finding the solution in the story somewhere (even if they are hidden very sneakily!).

Elements of WritingWriting Craft

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