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Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel Revised and Expanded Edition, 2nd Edition by Sara Paretsky, Hallie Ephron

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Chapter 20

Writing Action

“I once started a detective story to make money—but I couldn’t get the murder to take place! At the end of three chapters I was still describing characters and the milieu, so I thought, this is not going to work. No corpse!”

—Mary McCarthy

Every mystery novel includes action sequences. An action sequence can be a getaway, a chase, or a desperate rush to catch a plane. It can be a confrontation: an attack, a fistfight, a gun battle, or a murder. Your character could get tied up and thrown in a car trunk or stumble through a forest in the dead of night while being tracked by attack dogs. To make it work, you have to write convincing physical action.

In the hands of a master, writing action seems simple. Take this passage ...

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