Review: How To Write A Mystery

Author: Mystery Writers of America

Edited By: Lee Child, with Laurie R.King



ISBN #978-1-9821-4943-7

How To Write A Mystery is a 313-page book from the Mystery Writers Of America. Written by 70 0f the most successful mystery writers in the business, it is an inclusive guide for providing resources on the art of mystery writing, addressing both the art of writing and the business side of publishing.

Featured are essays from bestselling experts, as well as shorter pieces from the Mystery Writers of America membership. The topics covered fall into the following categories:

  • 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)

In his introduction, Lee Child notes that he writes without a plan or an outline. Basically a pantser myself, I appreciated knowing this. He talks about the need for mystery writers to be fluid and flexible.

Under “The Rules and Genres” Neil Nyren wrote an excellent essay on the rules, and when to break them. Charlain Harris writes about crossing the genres, and Gayle Lynds writes about researching the spy thriller.

Under “Other Mysteries” Susan Vaught writes about mysteries for children, Chris Grabenstein writes about unleashing your inner child, and Art Taylor writes about the short mystery.

Under “The Writing” Jeffrey Deaver writes about always outlining, Lee Child writes about never outlining, and Laurie R. King writes about the art of the rewrite.

Under “After The Writing” Liliana Hart writes about self-publishing, Maddee James writes about authors online, and Daniel Steven writes about legal considerations.

At the end of the book are short author bios, contributor permissions, and an index.

I find this book to be an excellent resource for both beginning and seasoned writers. Under the above categories, I have listed only a few of the authors and topics included. There is much more material there – and a lot of food for thought!

(c) December 2022 Bonnie Cehovet

Reproduction is not permitted without the written consent of the author.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s