Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Mystery Central: The Characters

Tip of the Day: want a good overview of writing a young adult mystery, read this eHow article.

As with most novels, characters are extremely important to a mystery book. And some might argue even more so than with other novels. Sure mysteries are generally driven by plot and the "who-done-it" factor not character, but most mysteries tend to be series. And with series, the character is king!

So a quirky character can do a lot for your mystery book. Do they have an interesting talent you could highlight? Something they dislike more than anything?

Things I like to know about my main character before starting:
  • Name, age, physical appearance and other general attributes
  • His or her interests, status, ambitions, etc.
  • Talents and skills
  • Personality
  • Tastes and preferences
  • Reason for getting mixed up in the mystery
  • Background and purpose throughout the story
  • Any subplots they might be involved in
  • How will the reader be able to relate to them
It's also important to know information about any victims:
  • Name
  • Why/how this person became a victim
  • Secrets
  • How can the reader relate to the victim (the reader needs to want the sleuth to solve this case and care about the victim)
And any suspects:
  • Suspects name
  • Relation to victim and relation to sleuth (if any)
  • Apparent motive
  • Secrets and lies
  • If they did the crime or not
  • How you are going to clear them if they didn't commit the crime
  • And how you are going to catch them if they did commit the crime
And of course any supporting characters:
  • Name
  • Relationship to the main character
  • Role in the story
--Emily, Miss Querylicious


Kate Fall said...

It really helps to have character sketches like this before I start writing! My current WIP is the first one I've actually typed as many details like this out before I started the first draft, and it has been extremely useful in plotting. I am a true believer now.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I haven't written a YA mystery before, but boy is it tempting after reading this great advice. Thanks for the info. :)

Lisa Schroeder said...

Em, you'll be delighted to know that when I did an event last week with a bunch of 11 and 12 year olds, the leader of the book group asked what kind of books they like to read, and most of them piped up with "mysteries!"

Christina Lee said...

good stuff. My current WIP is a pranormal with some mystery thrown in! Thanks!

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