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How to Write a Damn Good Mystery A Practical Step-by-Step Guide from Inspiration to Finished Manuscript

James N. Frey

St. Martin's Press

0312304463

9780312304461

Hardcover

288 Pages

$24.99

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Edgar Award nominee James N. Frey, author of internationally bestselling books on the craft of writing, including How to Write a Damn Good Novel, How to Write a Damn Good Novel II: Advanced Techniques for Dramatic Storytelling, and The Key: How to Write Damn Good Fiction Using the Power of Myth, has now written what is certain to become the standard "how-to" book for mystery writing, How to Write a Damn Good Mystery.

Frey urges writers to aim high—not to try to write a good-enough-to-get-published mystery, but a damn good mystery. A damn good mystery is first a dramatic novel, Frey insists—a dramatic novel with living, breathing characters—and he shows his readers how to create a living, breathing, believable character who will be what Frey calls "the author of the plot behind the plot."

Frey then shows, in his well-known, entertaining, accessible, and often humorous style how the characters—the entire ensemble, including the murderer, the detective, the authorities, the victims, the suspects, the witnesses, and the bystanders—create a complete and coherent world.

Exploring both the onstage action and the behind-the-scenes intrigue, Frey shows prospective writers how to build a fleshed-out, believable, and logical world. He displays to the reader exactly which parts of that world appear in the pages of a damn good mystery, and which parts are held back just long enough to keep the reader guessing.

This is an indispensable step-by-step guide for anyone who's ever dreamed of writing a damn good mystery.

REVIEWS

Praise for How to Write a Damn Good Mystery

"How to Write a Damn Good Mystery is an astonishing book. It's a step-by-step guide to creating a mystery like none other. Frey has helped me enormously with his character-based approach to plotting. If you want to be a professional mystery writer, you must get this book."—Cara Black, author of the Aimée Leduc series

"How to Write a Damn Good Mystery is further proof that James N. Frey is the master instructor of dramatic fiction writing. It's informative, entertaining, passionate, and fun! A gem of a gem."—Margaret Cuthbert, author of Silent Cradle

"Despite the fact that I graduated from a well-known creative-writing program, I learned everything I know about story telling from Jim Frey. He's a master at plotting a mystery and maintaining the kind of suspense that will keep readers up late. His how-to books are clear, concise, and funny. He's the best damn writing coach I've ever met. His books will inspire you and change your writing life."—Susan Clayton-Goldner, author of A Coffin for Emily and Winner of the National Writers Association Award

"I spent many agonizing years trying to learn to write and plot a mystery and was coming up empty. Then I happened upon James N. Frey's damn good-fiction writing books and the rest is history."—Lise S. Baker, author of The Loser's Club and Winner of the Best First Private Eye Novel contest, Private Eye Writers of America

"From the author of How to Write a Damn Good Novel comes a companion volume aimed at would-be mystery writers. Frey doesn't believe in those collections 'of tips on what to do and what not to do,' arguing that they give the false impression that writing good fiction is merely a matter of mixing ingredients in the right proportions. Instead, Frey contains, the key to a good 0mystery isn't picking clues and getting the technical stuff right; it's a matter of finding the right people to tell your story, finding the right words to frame it, finding the right sequence of events to maximize suspense. Frey also spends time on an important but frequently neglected aspect of the writerly trade: the audience. Who reads mysteries, and what do they expect from them? Meanwhile, he tackles the nuts and bolts in a particularly clever manner, by guiding the reader through the creation of a virtual novel, which he calls Murder in Montana. This approach proves eminently practical and rich in details. A must for budding crime-fiction authors."—Booklist

Reviews from Goodreads

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BOOK EXCERPTS

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James N. Frey is the author of internationally bestselling books on the craft of fiction writing, including How to Write a Damn Good Novel, How to Write a Damn Good Novel II: Advanced Techniques, and The Key: How to Write Damn Good Fiction Using the Power of Myth. He is also the author of nine novels, including the Edgar Award-nominated The Long Way to Die. He has taught at the University of California, Berkeley, Extension, the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, and the Oregon Writers' Colony, and he is a featured speaker at writers' conferences throughout the United States and Europe. Former
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • James N. Frey

  • James N. Frey is the author of internationally bestselling books on the craft of writing and nine novels, including the Edgar Award-winning The Long Way to Die. He teaches creative writing and is a feature speaker at writers' conferences throughout the United States and Europe. He lives in Berkeley, California.
  • James N. Frey Elizabeth Frey
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