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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 24

Writing the Coda

“Readers don’t want to guess the ending, but they don’t want to be so baffled that it annoys them.”

—Sue Grafton

Mystery novels usually end with a final scene or two of reflection. I call it the coda. It contains the final resolution or clarification of the plot. Coming after the book’s pull-out-all-the-stops final climax, the coda is like a cleansing breath after vigorous exercise. It’s a chance to tie up loose ends. The coda might be nothing more than dialogue between two characters talking about what happened. It might be an extended internal dialogue in which your main character thinks about the events of the story. It might include a lighthearted scene between your protagonist and the love interest. By the end ...

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