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Zara Altair

Why Your Scenes Need a Twist

If you want your scene to be gripping, then you need a setup that gives the reader a big surprise.

Large or small, you build tension in your story at the scene level. Build anticipation in each scene by changing the emotional status of the protagonist character from the beginning to the end.

At crucial points in the story, you need…


Lay Out the Puzzle Pieces

Readers expect not just a good puzzle but an engaging sleuth to lead them through solving the mystery. But that’s just one of the expectations.

Mystery Elements


Dialogue Moves Your Story

Dialogue may not feel as dramatic as a fight scene, but what character’s say have the power to move the story forward, create immediate conflict, and stir the reader’s curiosity to find out what happens next.

How your characters speak reveals their personality. Especially in mysteries, characters reveal their character, even when they try to hide it…


Plunge Your Reader Into The Story…and Keep Them There

Advice about Amazon’s Look Inside feature focuses on how the first pages of your story hook the reader. All that is information is great at the point of sale.

Then, your reader will read your book. Genre readers, like mystery lovers, like a great puzzle in an easy…


A New Hook In the Middle

It sounds simple. But you need a bridge between the two journeys. The midpoint, is the fulcrum that tilts your sleuth from discovery to constricting the search.

Create A Dark Road Ahead


What Is An Inciting Incident?

In a mystery, after you introduce your protagonist sleuth, the inciting incident connects your detective to the crime that drives your mystery puzzle.

Not the First, but the Second


We need to want to try hard. There's the key to counter complacency. Complacency is a signal that we're not wanting to try hard. Oops! Goal recheck.


Things That Go Wrong in A Mystery Novel

With so many components in your novel, it’s easy to get lost along the way. The character in your head may not come to life on the page. The series of conflicts may be just that without raising the stakes to…


Show The Way

This approach is the basis of the fiction writing adage: show, don’t tell. Telling is exposition, keeping the reader at an intellectual distance while immersing them in the story allows them to feel what your character feel.

Sensory Detail


You Are Not Alone

Self-Doubt Is The Number One Writer Fear

You’ll get fear signals of every kind.

  • My writing sucks.
  • That just-out-of-college-and-read-10-books…

Zara Altair

Mystery author Zara Altair writes clues for writers who want to write a great mystery. http://bit.ly/KillerMystery

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