I am now in the midst of writing a mystery. I’ve been working on this for several months now, and I had to share the one thing I wish I’d done from the get-go. The thing I will always do, every time I write a mystery from here on out:
Write the Crime First
I don’t mean some one sentence “Professor Plum did it in the kitchen with the candlestick” either. I mean write the crime as a story. Do not include the detective or p.i. or cop or amateur sleuth or whoever is going to solve the thing. That’s not part of this at all. This is the crime. From the point of view of the person who did it. Write it as a story. Doesn’t matter how long–a short story, novella, novelette. Write how this person manages to steal or kill or abduct or whatever it is they’re guilty of. Write why. Write what brought them to it. Write how they carried it out, and write how they covered it up.
Then, after you’ve written the crime, and have full understanding of it, write the mystery. Introduce your detective who will now try to solve it.
Seriously–write the crime first. You’ll thank me.