After many drafts, I can finally say I’ve written a mystery book and it’s done. Done, but I dumped it. Hang in with me. I’ll tell you why.
I’ve been a short story writer since the day I could write. Then I suddenly found I had the time to try something longer. Having always wanted to write a mystery, I decided why not write one? I’ve the got time, I’ve got writing skills, what could wrong?
Well just about everything. The first draft was terrible. I forgot to follow the rules of a mystery where one clue leads to another. But the narrator had a voice that some in my writing group actually liked. Good omen, I thought.
So for the following next drafts, I concentrated on the rules of mystery writing, but the narrator’s voice got lost. It was dull, flat, uninteresting. Even I thought so.
Despite my best efforts, the following draft did not improve all that much. I began to feel mystery writing was simply not my genre.
So during a break from it to gain some perspective, I decided not to let my writing group read the final draft. I mean, really: How many times could I ask them to read the same thing over again? I wished to remain in the group, not bore them to death. But they said they were invested in it. So I had to give in and let them read my last draft.
The feedback was this: Neither the characters nor the plot were interesting enough to keep readers reading! Needless to say, they were right. That clinched it. Into the garbage it went. (Not really – I just set it aside.)
So I bought a book on how to write a mystery. Read it cover to cover. And now that I’ve gotten the hang of it and know my characters better, I’m thinking I may start writing a new mystery.
And that’s where I’m at now. It really does take practice to perfect one’s craft if you want to write something worthwhile. So I’m plugging along. Learning the mystery writing craft, i.e. perfecting my plot, my pacing, my characters.
Wish me luck. I get the feeling I’m going to need it.
S.J. Powers (aka Sue Powers) has a dazzling array of publishing credits and she’s also won a few awards, such an Illinois Arts Council fellowship in Prose.. Despite some very nice rejections, she is still searching for a publisher for her collection of stories, A Surprising Measure of Subliminal Sadness.
She lives in a Chicago suburb with her partner, two cats, one bird and a snake (the snake is on loan) and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.