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How to Write a Damn Good Mystery : A Practical Step-by-Step Guide from Inspiration to Finished Manuscript
by James N. Frey

Category: Fiction / Self-help
288 pages; ISBN: 0312304463

Rating: 9/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner

Review

How to Write a Damn Good Mystery : A Practical Step-by-Step Guide from Inspiration to Finished Manuscript
James N. Frey
St. Martin’s, Feb 2004, $22.95, 288 pp.
ISBN: 0312304463

Since this reviewer has no urge to write a damn bad mystery or any novel, I evaluated this self help book by comparing it to some of the things that bother me such as trying to get every thought, value and belief into the plot so that the center implodes. James N. Frey gives step by step instruction to avoid that type of error and others. He makes a solid case that the key is characters appearing human as if they live next door, but are also clever and brave (especially the good guys). Together the cast must make the author’s universe seem real to the intended audience. Mr. Frey reminds wannabe authors to look closely at not just the action of the better mousetrap concept of the plot, but what is implied outside the written description. . The significant combination combines to develop a world that feels authentic and is filled with real people in situations in which readers keep guessing who did what to whom.

This is a simple to follow, often amusing guidebook that is at its best when it describes what pratfalls to avoid, using amusing examples. The offstage tip is critical because anachronisms or geo-social misplacements cost authenticity points. Easy to follow and solid in providing guidance that writers can apply, this How To is a strong well written and simple to use manual. This reviewer’s prime tip on top of this step by step guide is to start writing and keep writing for practice is the best way to hone one’s skills.

Harriet Klausner

 

Buy How to Write a Damn Good Mystery : A Practical Step-by-Step Guide from Inspiration to Finished Manuscript at amazon.com

 
 

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