How to Write a Mystery: A Handbook from Mystery Writers of America (Hardcover)

How to Write a Mystery: A Handbook from Mystery Writers of America By Mystery Writers of America, Lee Child (Editor), Laurie R. King (Editor) Cover Image

How to Write a Mystery: A Handbook from Mystery Writers of America (Hardcover)


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From 70 of the most successful mystery writers in the business, an invaluable guide to crafting mysteries—from character development and plot to procedurals and thrillers—“this is a writing guide that readers and writers will turn to again and again” (Booklist, starred review).

Mystery Writers of America (MWA) is known for providing unparalleled resources on the craft, art, and business of storytelling, helping writers of all levels improve their skills for nearly a century. Now, this handbook helps authors navigate the ever-shifting publishing landscape—from pacing, plotting, the business side of publishing, to the current demand for diversity and inclusivity across all genres, and more.

Featuring essays by a new generation of bestselling experts on various elements of the craft and shorter pieces of crowd-sourced wisdom from the MWA membership as a whole, the topics covered can be categorized as follows:
—Before Writing (rules; genres; setting; character; research; etc.)
—While Writing (outlining; the plot; dialogue; mood; etc.)
—After Writing (agents; editors; self-pub; etc.)
—Other than Novels (short stories; true crime; etc.)
—Other Considerations (diverse characters; legal questions; criticism)

Also included is a collection of essays from MWA published authors—including Jeffery Deaver, Tess Gerritsen, and Charlaine Harris—selected by bestselling authors Lee Child and Laurie King and arranged thematically answering, “What piece of writing advice do you wish you’d had at the beginning of your career?”

“Everything you wanted to know about how to plan, draft, write, revise, publish, and market a mystery” (Kirkus Reviews), this inclusive manual provides practical, current, easily digestible advice for new and established authors alike.
Mystery Writers of America is the premier organization for mystery and crime writers, professionals allied to the crime-writing field, aspiring crime writers, and folks who just love to read crime fiction.

Lee Child, previously a television director, union organizer, theater technician, and law student, was fired and on the dole when he hatched a harebrained scheme to write a bestselling novel, thus saving his family from ruin. Killing Floor went on to win worldwide acclaim. The Midnight Line, is his twenty-second Reacher novel. The hero of his series, Jack Reacher, besides being fictional, is a kindhearted soul who allows Lee lots of spare time for reading, listening to music, and watching Yankees and Aston Villa games. Lee was born in England but now lives in New York City and leaves the island of Manhattan only when required to by forces beyond his control. Visit Lee online at for more information about the novels, short stories, and the movies Jack Reacher and Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, starring Tom Cruise. Lee can also be found on Facebook: LeeChildOfficial, Twitter: @LeeChildReacher, and YouTube: LeeChildJackReacher.
Product Details ISBN: 9781982149437
ISBN-10: 1982149434
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: April 27th, 2021
Pages: 336
Language: English
"An embarrassment of riches . . . [How to Write a Mystery] overflows with enough pithy wisdom and hard-boiled humor to deserve its place on any mystery lover's shelf, even if they never intend to write a thing. . . . A snappy, wise and expansive guide which in explaining how to write a mystery ends up illustrating much of what makes the genre so engrossing." —Minneapolis Star Tribune

"A wonderful book, a seminar in genre writing conducted by some of the genre’s most accomplished practitioners. . . . a writing guide that readers and writers will turn to again and again." Booklist, starred review

"Everything you wanted to know about how to plan, draft, write, revise, publish, and market a mystery, courtesy of the cheerleaders from the Mystery Writers of America. . . . A chorus of encouraging voices that mix do-this instruction with companionable inspiration." Kirkus Reviews

"Tempted to try your own hand at a tale of crime? How to Write a Mystery gathers sound and often witty advice from nearly 70 contemporary practitioners." Wall Street Journal

"One of the best and most inclusive manuals ever. . . . How to Write a Mystery is a splendid technical treatise for writers of any stage or level. . . . Reading the book feels like taking a graduate-level course. . . . an immensely worthwhile investment for the storyteller in us all.” BookTrib

"All this input from some of the most successful mystery writers alive makes for an invaluable guide to crafting mysteries, police procedurals, and thrillers. These experts offer practical, current, and surprisingly easily digestible advice." The Big Thrill

"Budding authors looking for pro tips will find some useful tidbits." Publishers Weekly