Tag Archives: details

Get a Clue: The 3 Types of Evidence In Mysteries

Hello writer bugs!

What’s a whodunit without some hard hitting evidence? Clues in mysteries can lead the detective and the reader down either the right path or the wrong path. I’m breaking down the three types of clues a sleuth will find during their investigation.

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Physical Evidence

Probably the most likely of evidence, these are the tangible clues. The kind of evidence the detective can physically hold, feel and smell. And remember, this item can be planted to frame someone else.

Examples:

  • Forensic evidence – Hair, fingerprints, blood etc. If you are writing a historical mystery, research how detectives used science to solve cases during that time period. You’ll be surprised.
  • Personal items – This could be anything, from jewelry to hand written notes to photographs. Whatever the object, it connects the culprit to the scene of the crime or connects the killer to the victim.
  • Murder weapon – Possibly the most important piece of evidence in a case. A bloody knife or a smoking gun can tip the balance of any investigation. Really consider where the weapon is found. Was it found near the dead body or was it disposed of?

Thematic Evidence

Here’s where the creative in creative writing comes in. As writers, we often use subtle nuances as hints to the reader. Think about how the audience experiences the story, the surrounding atmosphere of a scene.

Examples:

  • Weather can set the vibe of a scene. Tense situations tend to happen during dark and stormy nights.
  • Villains, especially Femme Fatales, wear light colored clothing then gradually transitions to a darker appearance.
  • That “invisible” character that is just too quiet and too innocent. Like the shifty looking butler or maid ducking in the background. You know who I’m talking about.

Verbal Evidence

Sometimes, mysteries are simply a game of questions and answers. Not only is who said what important, but what is not being said too, meaning body language and social cues.

Examples:

  • Verbal – How do suspects answer the inspector’s questions? How do they talk about the victim or the crime itself? Consider the tone of their voice. Do they sound abrasive? Defensive? Anxious?
  • Secrets – Everyone has their secrets. Who is gossiping about who? What lies are being told? What happens when secrets get exposed?
  • Body language – This is the “show, don’t tell” rule comes into play. Instead of writing “He was acting nervous”, describe how the body moves when someone is nervous.

With all three types of clues mixed into the plot, you will definitely had one solid mystery on you hands. What’s your favorite detective story? Lemme know in the comments!

Keep writing and stay safe!

Lady Jabberwocky

5 Deadly Essentials to a Great Mystery

Hello writer bees!

Some folks think murder mysteries are complicated to write. And they’re right. Mysteries involved many moving pieces. But once you understand the core elements of a mystery, writing in that genre won’t be as intimidating as it would appear.

So, continuing with the May of Mystery theme, let’s go over the essentials to any great mystery.

The Right Hook

Pin on 2017 Halloween ideas
Note: This is a Halloween decoration idea from Pinterest. And it’s hilarious.

Right off the bat, the crime has to grab the reader’s attention. If you don’t have the audience’s interest from the start, they won’t be interested in how the mystery is resolved. Take it from someone who has changed the murder of my WIP murder mystery before. Whether it’s a murder, a kidnapping or a theft, the mystery itself should bring shock and intrigue to the audience. Really set the scene for the reader, give them every bit of detail, no matter how small or how gruesome.

The Investigator

When mystery is afoot, someone’s there to crack the case. A sleuth character is the heart and soul of this genre. The audience needs someone to follow and root for in this mystery.

Keep in mind, the protagonist does not have to be a bonafide detective. They can be a private detective, a member of law enforcement, or a regular joe who fell into the scene. And more than one person can be involved, like a detective duo (ex. Sherlock Holmes and Watson) or a team of sleuths (Scooby Doo and Mystery Inc.) Regardless, the protagonist(s) is invested in the investigation and is determined to uncover the truth.

Phryne Fisher Jack Robinson GIF - PhryneFisher JackRobinson Mmfm ...
One of my favorite detective duos 😉

Also, ask yourself, why is the detective compelled to solve the case? The protagonist’s motives are just as interesting as the antagonist’s motives.

Suspicious Suspects

For any kind of mystery, a line-up of suspicious characters is assembled. And hidden amongst them is the true culprit. Each suspect must be memorable and standout from the rest. For example, take the suspects from the Cluedo board game. All distinct in character and yet equal in motive and opportunity to commit the crime. If not differentiated, characters will bleed together and get easily mixed up by the reader.

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How many suspects should a mystery story have? Personally, I think 3 to 6 suspects is a good number. Too many suspects will overwhelm, too little is too easy. Also, consider how the suspects relate to one another. Are they enemies? Are they lovers? How do those relationships effect the victim?

Clues and Red Herrings

Both the detective and the reader need breadcrumbs to follow. All of the evidence of the case must be out in the open. There’s no holding out on clues in a proper mystery, or the audience will feel cheated. However, not every hint leads to the truth. Some clues, called Red Herrings, divert an investigation, taking the detective down a dead end (no pun intended).

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Keep track of all the clues presented. Jot down a list of clues as you scatter them throughout the story. When does this piece of evidence appear in the story? How does it connect to the overall plot?

A Satisfying Finale

Every murder mystery needs a grand finale. The big reveal, when all the clues come together and the culprit is discovered. Sure, there can be some plot twists, but a mystery writer must deliver a satisfying ending to the audience. This means the other suspects are given alibis, proving without a doubt, the identity of the antagonist. And every bit of evidence is explained in detail. No loose plot ends, all story lines must be resolved in the end.

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What are some of your favorite mysteries? Let me know in the comments.

Stay safe and keep writing!

– Lady Jabberwocky

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The 3 Types of Evidence and Mistakes to Avoid When Dropping Clues

Hello writer bugs!

Get your magnifying glasses ready, cause we are hitting the pavement and looking at clues for your next murder mystery. What’s a whodunit without some hard hitting evidence? First, let’s talk about the three types of clues that are involved in a typical mystery.

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Physical Evidence

Probably the most likely of evidence, these are the tangible clues. Something left behind at the scene of a crime? Or a blood stained murder weapon? Or even a piece of DNA, like hair or fingerprints? These are the clues the detective can touch, hold and smell. The kind of evidence they can physically interact with.

Thematic Evidence

As writers, we often throw readers a bone in the form of hints. While a bit cliché, tense situation tend to happen during stormy nights. Villains often wear dark colors. As the audience progresses through the story, they sense those little nuances you establish. Like the story itself is holding up signs in the background.

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Verbal Evidence

Not only is who said what important, but what is not being said. Body language and social cues come into play. What is the tone of a suspect’s voice? What is said in an argument or a secret whisper? How do they react during a murder investigation. Sometimes, mysteries become a game of questions and answers.

Mistakes to Avoid

So planting clues can be tricky. You don’t want them to be obvious with a big neon sign, nor do you want then to be completely hidden. Finding the right balance is critical. Here are some pitfalls to steer away from.

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The Overused to DeathThe hackneyed clues that are so overdone, they’re never taken seriously. Accidently revealing secrets, victims writing their last message in a pool of blood.
The Overcomplicated Clues written in some bizarre code never fly too well. Evidence that requires something to be deciphered take up a lot of time. Also, their highly unrealistic. A murder mystery isn’t exactly an escape room. What criminal takes the time to leave his plans in Morse code?
The Obscure Trivial Pursuit Consider what is common knowledge for the average reader. Obscure trivia can be a hindrance. Be sure to give the proper information behind the evidence.
The Obvious LiesA detective cannot lie to it’s audience. In the midst on an investigation, an object can not be one thing, then mistaken for something else. Detective’s must be forthcoming.

Hope this helps you guys in your mystery writing pursuits. Be sure to check out this week’s prompt as well as the post on Ronald Knox’s Rules of Detective Fiction. Have a lovely weekend, amateur sleuths!

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

How to Write About Fictional Foods and Feasts

Food, in any story, is almost unavoidable.

Whether your characters are cooking a traditional meal from their culture, or grabbing a bite to eat, food can become a memorable part of a scene.

Personally, I love when I get the chance to write about food, because of how descriptive you can be when talking about a meal. And its those small details that bring a story, and it’s characters, to life. Take a line from my WIP as an example: “I was rewarded with freshly baked bread topped with minced garlic and a generous drizzle of olive oil.” Got your mouth watering already, right? It’s the little sentences like that will hook reader’s attention in a snap.

No, you don’t have to sound like a menu when talking about what’s on the plate. However, plugging in descriptive details will enrich your story and build a realistic, clear image for your characters, and your readers.

Preparation

  • Boiled
  • Broiled
  • Fried
  • Baked
  • Roasted
  • Steamed

Taste and Flavor

  • Sweet, Sugary, Salty
  • Juicy, Fresh, Tart
  • Bitter, Sharp, Sour, Acrid
  • Refreshing, Rich,
  • Smokey, Fiery, Zesty, Vinegary

Texture

  • Crispy, Crunchy, Greasy, Oily
  • Charred, Sticky, Soft, Doughy
  • Mushy, Slimy, Luscious, Dry, Airy
  • Melted, Stringy, Tough, Ooey-Gooey
  • Ripe, Rotten, Chilled, Piping Hot

Rapid Fire Tips

  • If your writing about a cuisine from a culture that’s not your own, do the research. You’ll want to be accurate with the information from another heritage.
  • Writing Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Be creative with inventing delicacies that tie into your setting. Consider incorporating holidays that center around a certain meal. What does Thanksgiving look like on Pluto? You tell me.
  • When the story takes place in another time period, think about what food was common back then and how it was prepared.

Throw away vague words like “delicious” and give your readers something to chew on. What are some food related moments from your favorite stories? Does your WIP have a line regarding a good meal? Talk to me in the comments! Have a great weekend you guys. Right now, I’m off to an escape room.

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

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