I am no expert in this, as I am learning like most of you here. Sharing what I’ve learned from time-to-time with all of you is what I’ll be doing here between my other posts. We should never stop learning. I love to learn something new. This kind of thing always sets my imagination loose. Sometimes I can go to some wild places while I’m letting my mind roam. I have learned a lot while writing my latest book, even though the mystery genre is new to me.
We, as writers, should never lose sight of certain things while we’re writing. The power of your storytelling is very important. I try my best to get into the head of my characters, which is one reason I decided on using first person POV for my book. I’m hoping this will be the right decision in the end. I find it easier to write what my character is feeling and thinking, if I step into their shoes when they are on the stage.
I am quite a fan of dialogue to advance the story, so I have to mention a few words about this. If I could add a seventh word here, it would be dialogue. Make sure there is plenty of it. A good mix of dialogue and narrative works well. Ideally, there are both on each page of your book. I have also learned not to use your narrative portion for info dumps. It’s okay to dump a little background info, but never a dump truck load at one time.
You need to have a compelling story. It is important to make the reader care about your characters. Is there a hook? Are there questions the story will answer?
Does your story have a heroic protagonist? What is at stake that the main character needs to conquer? This goal will be more convincing if he/she has internal and external conflicts to meet along the way.
There should be conflict in every scene in the story. This is a little hard to keep going in every scene, but remember the reader picked up the book to read about your hero’s quest. They don’t expect a trip to grandma’s house, or a stroll around the block, because that isn’t exciting. What is the bad guy up to? How do they cause traumatic tension for your main character?
Remember the theme of the story as you go along. Everything that has ever happened to your character, past and present, comes into play. Their decisions and thinking always has to do with the past they have lived and the experiences they have had. It is easy to lose sight of this and not remember that the terrible accident you introduced, or the awful childhood, still has an effect on your character in the middle of the book when they are dealing with something else. That’s why you need to stay inside their head and become them when they are on stage.
Structure – Can you keep the story you set up going? Is the story always moving forward with a few twists and turns thrown in to keep it exciting for the reader? There is nothing like an unexpected surprise that you didn’t see coming. Something startling to get in the path to the goal would add some nice tension.
Of course, there should be a resolution. Does the end of your story make sense? Will the reader remember it after they have finished your book?
I’m trying to follow all these things as I write my mystery novel, but it should be helpful for any fiction genre you are writing.