Elements of a Successful Mystery by Alan Brenham

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Elements of a Successful Mystery
The basic structure of a mystery is introducing the problem and the characters, someone working to solve or fix the problem, and someone solving it.

The first element in a successful mystery is the characters. They are the ones the story is all about – the ones who have to solve or fix the problem and the ones who caused the problem. Sufficient detail about each character must be provided so the reader can “see” the person. Effective characterization turns each character into a 3-dimensional “person” the reader can visualize and relate to.
Every story has a main character or protagonist- the hero or heroine – who is typically the one who will solve or fix the problem. The antagonist, or villain, will be the character who makes solving the problem near impossible for the protagonist. He or she should possess at least equal attributes (maybe more) as the protagonist. He or she may try to throw the hero/heroine off track.

The next element is the setting, or the location where the action takes place, such as, a neighborhood, the inside of a building, or onboard a ship or plane. The physical surroundings and even the weather should be described in sufficient detail so the reader “feels” he/she is right there and connected to the place where the action is occurring.

A third element is the plotline or story on which the entire book is based. It must have a clear beginning, middle and end. It’s basically a problem or puzzle that has to be solved with missing pieces and sometimes a secret to build suspense. Clues, some real and some false, will be sprinkled through the story so the reader can follow along with the protagonist and try to figure out who did it or why. It’s important that the story flows logically so the reader won’t be confused about events as they unfold.

The final element is the solution. It’s here that the protagonist prevails over his nemesis. He/she finds the missing puzzle piece or clue that brings the story to a head. It is very important that the solution be believable to the reader.

About the Author: MEDIA KIT Author PhotoAlan Brenham is the pseudonym of Alan Behr, an American author and attorney. He served as a law enforcement officer before earning a law degree. He worked first as a prosecutor then defense attorney for the next twenty-six years. His travels took him to several European and Middle Eastern countries, Alaska and almost every island in the Caribbean. While contracted to US military forces, he resided in Berlin, Germany for a few years. Alan and his wife, Lillian, currently live in the Austin, Texas area. He has authored two crime fiction books, Price of Justice and Cornered, and is working on a third titled Rampage.

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MEDIA KIT -Final Cover Image (169x253) (169x253)His focus is on solving the murders—until the unthinkable happens…

Recently widowed, Austin Police Detective Jason Scarsdale works to solve the murders of two pedophiles, while trying to be both mother and father to his five-year-old daughter. During his investigation, Scarsdale is forced to navigate between the crosshairs of two police commanders out to get him. Drawn to Austin Police Crime Analyst, Dani Mueller, who has also suffered tragedy, Scarsdale fights both his attraction and his suspicions that something just isn’t right…

She is hiding a secret, one that could not only cost her a job—it could end her life…

Dani hides a deadly past. After her daughter was brutally murdered, Dani exacted her revenge then changed her name and fled to Austin. But if her secret ever gets out, she knows there is no place she can hide from the murderer’s vicious family.

Pulled into a web of malice and deceit, Scarsdale and Dani discover the value of breaking the rules. Then just when they thought things couldn’t get worse…they do.

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  1. Elise-Maria Barton says:

    Thanks for sharing Elements of a Successful Mystery. Writing is not as easy as it seems so it’s nice to actually see a “blueprint” of an author’s approach to getting the job done.

  2. Thanks for hosting!

  3. Erin Higgins says:

    Thank you for the chance.

  4. Thanks for hosting me.

  5. I enjoyed your explanation of a perfect mystery story. I think it sounds like all authors should agree with.

  6. Informative post

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  7. Mary Preston says:

    I love watching the characters solving the mystery before them. Great post thank you.


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