Some Laws for Writing a Detective Story

1. A reader must have the same opportunity with the investigator for solving the crime.  All the clues must be plainly stated and reported.
2. No deliberate tricks or dishonesty may be placed on a reader other than those performed legitimately by the perpetrator on the detective.
3. There must be no love engagement.  The profession in hand is to bring a perpetrator to the bar of justice, but not to bring a lovelorn pair to their wedding
4. The detective themselves, or one of the official police investigators, should never turn out to be the offender.  This is plain trickery, on a par with offering someone a penny for a ten-pound note.  It’s false pretences.
5. The offender must be concluded by logical reasoning — not by accident or coincidence or unmotivated admission.
6. A detective novel must have a detective in it, and a detective is not a detective unless he or she detects. Their purpose is to collect clues that will ultimately lead to the person who did the dirty work in the first chapter being apprehended. If the detective does not reach their conclusions through an investigation of those clues, he has no more solved the problem than the pupil who gets their answer out of the back of the arithmetic textbook.
7. There frankly must be a corpse in a detective novel. No lesser crime than murder will suffice.  A couple of hundred pages is far too much bother for a crime other than a murder, or a few.  After all, the reader’s task and investment of energy must be rewarded.
8. The puzzle of the crime must be solved by naturalistic means. Such methods for learning the truth as slate-writing, ouija-boards, mind-reading, spiritualistic seances,  crystal-gazing, and the like, are taboo.  The reader has a chance when matching his wits with a typical detective, but if they must compete with the world of ghosts and go chasing around metaphysics, they are surely defeated.
9. There must be only one detective — that is, but one protagonist.
10. The offender must turn out to be a person who has acted a more or less prominent part in the story (antagonist) that is, a character with whom the reader is familiar and in whom they take an interest.
11. The butler or servant should not be made by the author as the culprit. This is begging the question; it is a too easy solution.  The culprit must be a decidedly worth-while person — one that would not ordinarily come under suspicion.
12. There must only be but one offender, no matter how many murders are perpetrated.

Plot Better Fiction: Tell Better Lies

What is Fiction?
Fiction is lies; the writer is writing about characters that have never existed and scenarios in a novel that never happened. Reality usually is utterly dull. To make it more interesting, you have to complicate it, and complicate it some more. Occasionally, the reality becomes complicated and hectic, almost as complex as fiction. I’m sure many of us have been through those situations.

Telling Better Lies
Fiction novels are based on reality and then made more complex with exciting characters. You find an interesting scenario in real life and think that it can be made into a novel or a few scenes in a novel. The first thing you do is ask yourself, “How can I make this outrageous?”
As a new writer, you’re thinking, “But, I need to make it believable to keep the suspension of disbelief. This means that you hover too close to reality and being dull. If anything else, reading about a wealthy landowner who has ghosts that suck blood in their house probably won’t be boring. The idea is to set your fictional world, in the beginning, then your reader will be less in reality.
Star Wars, although a movie, started off showing a reasonably sized spaceship being pursued by a massive great big one. Going onboard the smaller ship, there was robots and laser beam fighting. After the first scene was complete, we had been taken to a space travel capable race and introduced to two main characters. From then on the characters were developed and exciting problems were included to outrageous standards.

Red Herrings

‘Red herrings’ are hints that intentionally deceive readers, and they can be used to a great effect in writing crime fiction. For example, one red herring may include the murderer’s identification. David Lynch’s TV show Twin Peaks made commanding use of this method. If you have created several likely suspects, the reader may become particularly engrossed when the protagonist is alone with any of them.
You might plan your red herrings so that there are some possible alternatives answers. If you just produce one red herring, then the savvy suspense follower might see it coming, but if you include multiple ones, you may keep readers guessing.
Red herrings do not just link to murder suspects. Just about anything could be a red herring including a piece of information or a situation. As an example, you could create a series of red herrings as a protagonist is walking down a road at night. The protagonist might think a man is trailing her, but he ends up entering a regional restaurant. A little while later she might think she overhears his footsteps again, but it’s only a part of newspaper scudding behind her.
Also, red herrings can work with other elements to develop suspense:
Foreshadowing, atmosphere and mood
Foreshadowing includes suggestions of things that may happen. It may be direct or indirect. For example, an example of indirect foreshadowing might be the protagonist’s arrival at a house during a terrible storm (a well-known cliché). The storm is a suggestion of the awful occurrence the protagonist may have if a crime is perpetrated at the house.
Moreover, for politicians, red herrings do come in handy as they use them repeatedly to dodge difficult questions in a conversation or an argument. They do it by referring to a different issue, which of course is irrelevant, to sidetrack from the original subject under discussion.


Proofreading is at the centre of numerous—if not all—of these cases. If you want to make sure that your writing comes across as professional, then proofreading is such a necessary step.

Here’s how to fix the problem:
If you can’t support an editor to look at everything you write to guarantee that you find these sorts of simple errors, you still have several options.

You could:
* Develop your proofreading checklist that includes the words you know you get wrong often or the mistakes you make a lot.
* Get a proofreading buddy.
* Learn some proofreading tricks.
* Work with me to create your checklist. I can pinpoint the errors you make often and should watch out for, and then hop on a Skype call with you to go through them together and make sure you understand everything.

So, those are my tips for making your writing more professional by reducing simple errors. Let me know in the comments if you have been making any of these. Or, if you have noticed other mistakes that you think are unprofessional and have an easy fix, please let me know about those, so I can add those too!

Crime Fiction Good Advice

1. – On making the crime of the story matter to the sleuth. This is what is known as the inciting incident. 

Whether the crime is large and threatens the future of humanity, or small and only threatens a person’s reputation, it has to matter personally to the sleuth. How this fits into a series novel, I don’t know yet. Maybe there must be an inciting incident in the first book and not in the second, but inciting incidents could happen fairly often.

2. – On generating ideas 

I used to believe that I couldn’t write fiction as I wasn’t skilled at making up things. It turns out you don’t have to be because interesting ideas are all around you. Learn to tune in, and pay attention when your brain says. But the ‘What if…?” question is an ideal generator.

3. – On secrets that fuel your plot 

In a mystery novel: Everyone has secrets, and it’s the revelation of those secrets that propel the story forward within their situation.

4. – On basing your story on a real person and event: 

A real character or an actual event can make an excellent beginning point for a mystery novel. A large number of existing events are too bizarre and unbelievable for fiction.

5. – On advancing your character past cliché: 

Interesting characters startle the reader. Be sure to build a disconnect between your character’s physical demeanour and true capabilities. Then mine the rift, be it through plot and action, reveal who your character becomes.

6. – On profligate adverbs; 

“Oh, goody,” John said enthusiastically as he smiled radiantly. 
Eradicate as many of those ‘-ly’ adverb words and replace them with excellent descriptions of what a character does. It’s the: SHOW DON’T TELL.

7. – On the unlikely villain: 

Yes, you want to surprise the reader. But the surprise has to be believable and realistic. All the evidence has to bein the novel somewhere.

8. – On coincidence: 

If some major part of your plot hinges on coincidence, readers will cry foul. Sure, there are coincidences in actual life, but your fictional world is far more demanding. Only unfortunate coincidences are realistic in real life and fiction.