Learn the Essential Steps and Techniques to Craft a Gripping and Mysterious Whodunit Story that Keeps Readers on the Edge of Their Seats

How to write a whodunit

Writing a whodunit is like piecing together a puzzle. It involves crafting intriguing characters, creating suspenseful moments, and keeping readers on the edge of their seats. Whodunits, also known as murder mysteries, are a popular genre that captivate audiences of all ages and backgrounds. From classic noir novels to cozy mysteries, there’s something for everyone in this exciting subgenre.

One of the most important traits of a whodunit is the detective or amateur investigator. This character plays a central role in solving the crime and is generally the one who leads the readers through the mystery. Whether you choose a brilliant private detective or an amateur sleuth, it’s important to make them interesting and relatable to your audience. Give them a unique personality, distinctive traits, and even a bit of humor to keep readers engaged.

In whodunits, the starting point is often the crime scene. This is where the action begins and where the detective or amateur investigator starts to gather clues. The crime scene should be described in detail, but make sure not to reveal too much information upfront. Leave some room for suspense and allow the readers to use their imagination to connect the dots.

Including a board of suspects is another crucial element in writing a whodunit. These are the characters who could be the killer, and it’s essential to give each of them a motive and an alibi. As the story progresses, the detective or amateur investigator will explore each suspect’s background, connections, and possible reasons for committing the crime. This will keep readers guessing and engaged throughout the novel.

One of the challenges in writing a whodunit is to create an outcome that is both surprising and logical. The reveal at the end of the story should tie together all the clues and threads in a way that makes sense, while still providing a twist that the readers didn’t see coming. It’s a delicate balancing act that takes planning and careful crafting of the story.

If you’re an amateur writer or a student looking to try your hand at the whodunit genre, don’t be discouraged! While they may seem complex, whodunits are actually a great starting point for aspiring authors. The genre provides a clear structure and set of tasks for you to follow, which can help you develop your writing skills and create a compelling story. So don’t be afraid to pick up a pen and start crafting your own whodunit!

5 Tips for Writing a Murder Mystery Play

Writing a murder mystery play can be a thrilling and creative task. It takes a unique blend of crafting suspenseful moments and creating intriguing characters to engage audiences and keep them on the edge of their seats. If you’re a fan of the genre and want to try your hand at writing a murder mystery play, then this guide is for you. Here are five essential tips to help you start:

1. Know your subgenres There are different subgenres within the mystery genre, such as cozy, noir, and police procedurals. Understand the differences between them and decide what type of play you want to write. Each subgenre has its own set of rules and expectations.
2. Develop your characters Characters are at the heart of any good murder mystery play. Create a diverse cast of characters with unique personalities and motivations. Think about their relationships with one another, as well as their role in the plot. Some key characters include the detective, the suspects, and the witnesses.
3. Plan the murders The murders are the central focus of your play. Decide how many murders will occur, the order in which they happen, and who the victims will be. Consider creating alibis and red herrings to keep the audience guessing.
4. Create the investigation Giving your detective or detectives a series of tasks and challenges to solve is crucial. Plan out the clues and evidence they will find along the way, as well as any obstacles they may face. The investigation should be engaging and logical, allowing the audience to try and solve the mystery alongside the characters.
5. Craft the outcome The outcome of your play is what will leave a lasting impression on the audience. Think about the motives and opportunities of each suspect and create a surprising and satisfying conclusion. Whether you go for a twist ending or a classic whodunit reveal, make sure it is well-executed and makes sense within the context of the story.

Writing a murder mystery play can be a challenging but rewarding experience. By following these five tips, you can create a compelling and suspenseful story that will captivate your readers and leave them wanting more. So start planning, develop your characters, and craft a mystery that will keep audiences guessing until the final curtain call.

Investigate the subgenres of mystery

When it comes to writing a mystery novel, there are different subgenres to choose from. Each subgenre has its own unique characteristics that appeal to different audiences. In the beginning, you need to decide which subgenre you’re going to write in, and then investigate its specific traits to create an interesting and engaging story.

One popular subgenre is the classic whodunit. This type of mystery novel typically starts with a murder and revolves around the investigation to solve the crime. The challenge in writing a whodunit is to create a compelling murder mystery that keeps the readers guessing until the very end.

Another subgenre is the cozy mystery, which is generally lighter in tone and includes amateur detectives as the main characters. Cozy mysteries often take place in small, close-knit communities where everyone knows each other. The murders in these stories are not as dark or graphic, but rather focus on the puzzle-solving aspect of the mystery.

A subgenre that is even darker than the whodunit is the noir mystery. These stories are usually set in a gritty and morally ambiguous world, where the lines between good and evil are blurred. The main characters in noir mysteries are often flawed and have a complex past. The outcome of the investigation is generally not a happy one, and the suspense throughout the story keeps audiences on the edge of their seats.

For children, there are also subgenres of mystery that involve starting a series of books, with some of the tasks connected and others not. A series like this, starting with books about brilliant detective children who solve crimes committed by people around them, needs to play up the connections between the crimes and characters. Children want to make sure they’re similar connections between the murders.

No matter which subgenre you choose, important tasks involve creating interesting and believable characters, planning out the plot, and keeping your readers engaged throughout the story. From writing a classic whodunit to a cozy or noir mystery, the subgenre you choose will determine the tone, setting, and outcome of your story.

So, if you’re planning to write a mystery novel, investigate the different subgenres and find the one that best suits your style. Whether you’re writing for an adult audience or children, there is a subgenre of mystery that will intrigue and captivate your readers.

Cozy mysteries

Cozy mysteries are a subgenre of crime novels that focus on creating a cozy and comfortable atmosphere for readers. In these novels, the main detective character is often an amateur, someone who is not a police officer or a professional detective. The reason for this is to make the detective more relatable to audiences and to create an interesting dynamic between the detective and the other characters.

Cozy mysteries generally have a slower pace than other crime novels and focus more on character development and building relationships between the members of a community or a family. The murders in cozy mysteries are rarely violent or explicit, and the motive behind the crime is often related to personal connections or conflicts between the characters. The outcome of the investigation is not always the main focus, but rather the journey of the detective and the discovery of the truth.

When writing a cozy mystery, it is important to remember that suspense and action are not the main driving force of the plot. Instead, the focus should be on crafting a well-developed mystery with interesting characters and a compelling motive. The detective’s role is to solve the puzzle and uncover the truth, but the emphasis is on the process rather than the end result.

There’s also a board game genre called “cozy mysteries” where players take on the roles of the detective and try to solve the murder by investigating clues, gathering evidence, and eliminating suspects. This can be a fun way to engage with the genre and get a feel for the tasks and challenges that go into solving a cozy mystery.

Cozy mysteries are popular among readers who enjoy a lighter, more atmospheric approach to crime fiction. These novels often have a sense of nostalgia and offer a sense of escapism from the harsher realities of life. They are a great choice for those who enjoy puzzles, character-driven stories, and a touch of suspense.

Some tips for writing a cozy mystery include:

  1. Creating an interesting and relatable amateur detective as the main character.
  2. Giving your detective a compelling motive for solving the crime.
  3. Crafting a well-developed setting and atmosphere.
  4. Introducing a cast of quirky and memorable secondary characters.
  5. Placing subtle clues and red herrings throughout the story.

These tips can help you get started on writing your own cozy mystery novel. Remember, the best cozy mysteries are the ones that keep readers engaged and guessing until the very end, while also providing a cozy and comforting reading experience.

Police procedurals

Police procedurals are a popular subgenre of mystery novels that revolve around the investigation of a crime by law enforcement officers. These novels typically involve a team of detectives or a single sleuth who is tasked with solving the murder. The main character in this genre is usually a skilled and experienced detective, although sometimes an amateur detective or even a family member of the victim may take on the role of the investigator.

One of the key traits of police procedurals is their focus on the process of investigating a crime. The author will often include detailed descriptions of police procedures, forensic techniques, and interviews with suspects and witnesses. This attention to detail helps to create a sense of realism and believability in the story.

Police procedurals are known for their suspenseful and captivating plotlines. The author will often play with the readers’ expectations, introducing multiple suspects and red herrings to keep them guessing who committed the crime. The outcome of the investigation is rarely easy to predict, and there may be several twists and turns along the way that take the story in unexpected directions.

Creating compelling characters is another important aspect of writing police procedurals. The detectives in these novels are often complex and flawed individuals who must grapple with their own personal issues while trying to solve the case. The author may also include supporting characters with unique personalities and motives to keep the readers engaged.

There are several tips and techniques that can help you craft a successful police procedural novel. First and foremost, it is important to do thorough research into police procedures and investigative techniques to ensure accuracy in your writing. You may also want to create an outline or a detailed plan of the investigation to keep track of all the different tasks and clues.

In addition, consider including moments of suspense and tension throughout the story to keep the readers hooked. Use descriptive language and vivid scenes to bring the investigation to life, and make sure to connect all the dots by the end of the novel.

Finally, don’t be afraid to put your own twist on the police procedural genre. Experiment with different narrative styles, or explore themes and settings that are less commonly seen in this type of novel. The best police procedurals are often those that offer a fresh take on the genre while still delivering the elements that readers love.

  • Investigate the motive behind the crime
  • Include a wide range of suspects with different alibis
  • Craft a compelling and complex main character
  • Create suspenseful and surprising moments
  • Play with reader’s expectations

By following these tips and guidelines, you can write a police procedural that will captivate readers and keep them guessing until the very end.

Noir detective novels

Noir detective novels

Noir detective novels are a subgenre of crime fiction that rarely involve easy or straightforward mysteries. They are interesting to write and captivating to read, as they play with the essential elements of what makes a good whodunit. Noir detective novels are known for their dark, gritty settings and complex characters.

When writing a noir detective novel, it’s important to develop your detective character well. They need to be a brilliant and intriguing individual who plays by their own rules. The detective’s traits and actions should captivate the audience throughout the novel. They often have personal connections to the victims or a troubled past that drives them to investigate the crimes.

Noir detective novels often include scenes of crime investigations, where the detective interacts with witnesses, suspects, and family members of the victims. The crafting of these scenes is essential, as they need to have a sense of realism and tension that keeps the reader engaged.

One of the best ways to start a noir detective novel is by summing up what the detective does or what their job entails. This helps set the tone for the novel and gives the reader a clear understanding of the detective’s role. Whether they are a professional detective or an amateur sleuth, it’s important to establish their expertise or unique methods of investigation.

Noir detective novels also often play with the line between law enforcement procedurals and private investigations. The outcome of the novel may be connected to the larger world of crime, or it may be a more personal, intimate case that takes place in a smaller setting.

In addition to the detective character, the city or setting is also an important aspect of a noir detective novel. The city is often a character in itself, filled with corrupt officials, dark alleyways, and mysterious happenings. The setting needs to be well-developed and play a role in the overall atmosphere of the novel.

Noir detective novels can also include moments of action and suspense, where the detective finds themselves in dangerous situations. These scenes add excitement and tension to the story and keep the readers engaged.

When crafting your noir detective novel, it’s important to create a series of tasks and challenges for the detective to overcome. These tasks should be connected to the overall mystery, leading the detective closer to the truth. The challenges should feel realistic and well thought out, keeping the reader guessing until the final reveal.

Noir detective novels are not just for adults; there are also versions crafted for children. The themes and content may be adjusted to be age-appropriate, but the essence of a noir detective story can still be captured.

In conclusion, writing a noir detective novel requires careful attention to detail, strong character development, and an ability to create an immersive and engaging world. By incorporating these tips and traits, you can craft a compelling whodunit that will captivate readers from beginning to end.


Suspense is one of the key elements in writing a whodunit. It is what keeps the readers on the edge of their seats, eagerly turning the pages to find out what happens next. The best mystery books are those that create a sense of suspense throughout the entire novel.

One of the main reasons suspense is so important is that it keeps the readers guessing. Even the best amateur detectives need to be kept in suspense, as they’re trying to solve the murder along with the characters in the book. The suspense is what drives the investigation forward and keeps the readers engaged.

In whodunit novels, suspense often takes the form of dark and mysterious moments. These moments involve someone discovering a clue, uncovering a motive, or figuring out a connection between two seemingly unrelated events. It’s the unknown that fuels the suspense and makes it an interesting genre to write.

One of the essential tasks in crafting suspense is developing interesting and well-rounded characters. The main character, usually a detective, needs to have traits that make them relatable and likable for the readers. They need to have a reason to investigate the murders and a strong desire to solve the case.

There’s also a fine balance between providing enough information for the readers to try and solve the crime themselves and withholding information to maintain suspense. The writing needs to guide the readers through the investigation while leaving out crucial details until the end.

Another way to create suspense is by planning out the novel well in advance. Starting with an outline can help writers plot out the key moments in the story and build the suspense gradually. It’s important to know the beginning, middle, and end of the story as well as the motive of the killer. This will help create a coherent and gripping narrative.

Within the genre of whodunits, there are several subgenres that students can explore. Cozy mysteries, for example, involve crimes in a small, close-knit community, often featuring an amateur detective and a series of murders to solve. Crime procedurals, on the other hand, focus on police investigations and the systematic approach to solving crimes.

No matter which subgenre they’re starting with, students can benefit from some tips on how to write suspenseful whodunits. Some of these tips include creating well-developed and interesting characters, planning the story carefully, and keeping the readers guessing until the very end.

In conclusion, suspense is an essential element in writing a good whodunit novel. It involves creating a sense of mystery and anticipation that keeps readers engaged and eager to uncover the truth. By employing tips and techniques to craft suspenseful moments throughout the story, writers can create a thrilling and satisfying reading experience for their audience.

Which genre or subgenre am I writing

When you are writing a whodunit or mystery novel, it is important to understand which genre or subgenre you are going to write in. The genre or subgenre you choose will determine the tone, style, and overall atmosphere of your story. It will also help you create and develop the essential traits of your main detective or sleuth.

There are several genres and subgenres within the mystery genre, including traditional mysteries, detective novels, police procedurals, cozy mysteries, and suspense thrillers. Each genre has its own unique characteristics and audience expectations, so it is important to know which one you are writing in.

If you want to write a traditional mystery, you will be focusing on creating an interesting puzzle for your audience to solve. The emphasis is on the whodunit aspect, with the detective or sleuth trying to gather clues and uncover the motive behind the crime. In this genre, the police or detectives may play a lesser role, and the focus is more on the amateur detective or the sleuth.

On the other hand, if you are writing a police procedural, the focus will be on the investigation process and the tasks that the police or detectives have to complete to solve the crime. These novels often include realistic scenes of crime investigation, as well as the personal connections and conflicts between the members of the police force.

Cozy mysteries, as the name suggests, are lighter and more comfortable mysteries. They usually involve an amateur detective, often a woman or someone from the community, who solves murders in a small, cozy setting. These novels are generally less dark and more lighthearted, with a focus on the friendships and relationships between the characters.

Suspense thrillers, on the other hand, are more action-packed and fast-paced. They often involve high-stakes situations and moments of intense suspense, where the main character is in constant danger. These novels usually include a brilliant detective or investigator who is trying to solve a complex mystery while also trying to stay alive.

Ultimately, the genre or subgenre you choose will determine the tone, style, and outcome of your whodunit. It will also guide you in creating interesting and memorable characters, as well as keeping your audience engaged throughout the investigation. So, take some time to explore the different genres and subgenres within the mystery genre and decide which one suits your story the best!

Start by creating your characters – who are they and what do they want

In the world of whodunit books and suspense novels, the characters play an essential role in crafting a brilliant story. When you start writing a whodunit novel, creating interesting and well-developed characters should be at the top of your list of important tasks. These characters, including the detective or sleuth, are the main players in your murder mystery.

The main characters in a whodunit novel should have unique traits, motivations, and actions that make them compelling to the audience. For example, the detective must be clever, observant, and determined to solve the crime. They’re often portrayed as brilliant minds who can connect the dots and uncover the truth even when everyone else is stumped.

When crafting your characters, think about their motives and what they stand to gain or lose in the story. Are they connected to the murder in some way? Do they have a dark past or a hidden agenda? These factors will add depth and intrigue to your characters, keeping readers hooked throughout the book.

In addition to the detective, there should be a variety of other characters, each with their own personality and motives. This can include family members, friends, suspects, and even the victims themselves. Make sure to give each character a reason to have committed the crime, allowing readers to speculate and make their own guesses.

One important aspect of characters in a whodunit is their alibi. The alibi is an essential part of the story that provides an explanation for where the character was when the crime took place. Craft clever and believable alibis for your characters to create moments of suspense and keep readers guessing.

When writing a whodunit, it’s also important to consider the subgenres within the mystery genre. Some subgenres include noir, cozy mystery, and children’s mystery books. Each subgenre has its own unique traits and audience, so make sure to tailor your characters and the overall tone of your novel to fit your chosen subgenre.

Starting a whodunit can be a daunting task, but by focusing on creating interesting and well-developed characters, you can lay the foundation for a captivating story. Your characters should have clear motives and actions that drive the plot forward, keeping readers engaged. So, go ahead and start crafting your detective, suspects, and other characters, and let the investigation begin!

Develop your sleuth

When writing a whodunit or noir novels, your main character, the sleuth, plays a crucial role in captivating readers and solving the mystery. They are the guide throughout the investigation, connecting the dots and uncovering the truth behind the murders. Developing a strong and compelling sleuth is essential to creating suspense and keeping readers hooked from beginning to end.

Here are 5 tasks to help you develop your sleuth:

1. Planning and background: Start by crafting a backstory for your sleuth. What is their family like? What are their connections to the victims or the crime? What drives them to solve mysteries? Think about their motivations, strengths, and weaknesses.

2. Creating a unique character: Your sleuth should be distinct and memorable. Think about their personality traits, quirks, and skills. Are they an amateur detective or a seasoned police officer? Are they brilliant and intuitive or methodical and analytical? Consider how their unique characteristics will shape their actions and decisions throughout the novel.

3. The need for action: Sleuths are not passive observers but active participants in the investigation. They should drive the story forward and take on the tasks necessary to solve the crime. Whether they’re questioning witnesses, searching for clues, or confronting suspects, the sleuth needs to be at the center of the action.

4. Connections and connections: The sleuth must have connections that help them solve the mystery. These can be personal relationships or professional contacts. Maybe they have a trusted friend in the police force, a brilliant hacker in their family, or a nosy neighbor who always has useful gossip. These connections will assist the sleuth in gathering information and moving the investigation forward.

5. Moments of suspense: Throughout the novel, crafting suspenseful scenes is essential. There will be moments when the sleuth is in danger, when they discover critical evidence, or when they confront the killer. These moments should keep readers on the edge of their seats and create a sense of urgency and tension.

By developing your sleuth well, you can create a series of mystery novels that will captivate readers and keep them guessing until the very end. Remember, the outcome of the investigation should generally be connected to the sleuth’s actions and decisions. Whether you’re writing a cozy mystery or a gritty noir, the whodunit genre needs a strong and engaging sleuth to make the story shine.

Summing Up The Essential Guide to Crafting a Brilliant Murder Mystery

Summing Up The Essential Guide to Crafting a Brilliant Murder Mystery

Writing a murder mystery is not an easy task, but it can be an incredibly rewarding one. By following these essential tips and tricks, you can create a suspenseful and captivating mystery that will keep readers guessing until the very end.

One of the most important elements of a good mystery is a strong motive. A well-crafted motive is what drives the actions of the characters and creates the suspense that keeps readers hooked. Whether it is a family feud or a hidden secret, make sure that there is a compelling reason for the murder to occur.

The protagonist, or the detective, is another essential character in any murder mystery. This character, whether they are a professional police detective or an amateur sleuth, is the one who is going to solve the crime. Make sure to develop their traits and skills throughout the story, as well as their connections to the victims and other members of the community.

When it comes to writing a murder mystery, the outcome should never be obvious from the beginning. Your readers want to be challenged and entertained, so make sure to create twists and turns that will keep them guessing. Use red herrings, false leads, and unexpected revelations to create moments of suspense and surprise throughout the story.

There are many subgenres within the larger genre of mysteries, and each one has its own unique traits and characteristics. Whether you are writing a cozy mystery or a dark and gritty thriller, make sure to understand the conventions and expectations of your chosen subgenre. This will help you create an interesting and engaging story that will resonate with your target audience.

Finally, remember that the journey is just as important as the destination. The action and suspense should be present throughout the story, not just at the beginning and the end. Develop your characters, their relationships, and their conflicts in a way that keeps the readers invested and engaged in the story.

In conclusion, creating a brilliant murder mystery takes skill, planning, and attention to detail. By following the tips outlined in this guide, you can craft a mystery that will keep readers on the edge of their seats, eager to discover the truth behind the crime. So go forth and write your own captivating whodunit!


How To Write Mystery (Revealing Clues) | Fiction Writing Tips

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