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The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing, 3rd Edition by Writer's Digest Writer's Digest Editors

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Chapter Forty

Write This, Not That

Key Ingredients for a Satisfying Mystery

Elizabeth Sims

Just as eating a balanced diet requires an endless series of good choices, so does writing a successful mystery. And just like anyone else, we authors are constantly tempted by junk. It’s true: When crafting a story or chapter, you can opt for the cheap, first-thing-to-hand alternative, or you can push yourself toward something that may be less convenient but that will ultimately be more fulfilling for both you and your readers.

Think of it this way: As an author, you’re feeding your readers. Those readers come to a mystery hungry for certain elements, and they expect to feel satisfied at the end. They don’t want formulaic, predictable stories that are ...

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