Saturday, April 16, 2011

M is for Mystery

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I absolutely love mysteries, no matter what genre. The hard to guess villain/ending is more thrilling and challenging to watch/read. I don't know if it's because I'm a writer or I just over-analyse situations, but I have a tendency to try and guess the ending/villain of the movie long before the finale rolls around (and usually I end up being right)... I love movies where I'm absolutely wrong. That means that the author has done a fantastic job of putting enough twists and turns, and enough potential villains into the story that it becomes a complex tale.

At the moment, my WIP is a horror mystery, and I'm finding it extremely hard to have an objective view over whether the scenes are too predictable and whether the ending will be cliche/not interesting/not scary. Because I know the story, I know every ins and outs of what's going to happen and I feel (especially around the "cheap scares" that I'm throwing in) that this story will not be as thrilling, horrific or mysterious as I'm picturing it to be.

So, how does one go about making a suspenseful mystery?

  1. Have enough suspects to place the blame on.
  2. If your character thinks something should happen... then it really shouldn't.
  3. It's always the least expected (or the butler :D)... and the least expected could be the person that's most likely to because everyone expects that so they're not watching him... yes, that does make sense.
  4. Do the unexpected... Try reading through the scene as a reader and ask "what would I do?" and then do the opposite. They definitely won't expect that.

This is where awesome beta readers come in handy. I've already ordered my brother to read the "scary" scenes and see if it's too predictable. He's also a horror buff like me who offers fantastic suggestions if it totally sucks.

P.S. As a horror buff I bow my head to Wes Craven for creating another perfect horror with Scream 4... Just got back from it and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. I also didn't know what a fantastic actress Emma Roberts is.

So, do you like mysteries? Do you like to be surprised or would you prefer to know who's the villain up front? For the writers, have you ever written a mystery, and how did you handle keeping it mysterious? 

4 comments:

Donna Weaver said...

Yay for beta readers! They are so invaluable. Great post.

Lydia K said...

I have never written a mystery. I find the very idea intimidating!

Rachael Harrie said...

A horror mystery sounds awesome! Great tips :)

Hugs,

Rach

Alleged Author said...

Horror and mystery---oh, I so love the combination! Have fun with the idea!

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