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How to Write a Mystery

A Handbook from Mystery Writers of America

From the most successful mystery writers in the business, an invaluable guide to crafting mysteries—from character development and plot to procedurals and thrillers—a must-have for every aspiring mystery writer.

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 new 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?”

Highly anticipated and incredibly useful, this new and trusted guide from MWA’s experts 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.

"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

"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

"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

"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

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