Things Mystery Writers Do*

*Not all mystery writers. Not only mystery writers. Not all the time. Not without good reason.

  1. Discuss mysteries. We never tire of this subject.
  2. Read new books, then proceed to tell the author and everyone else how much we love them. See #1.
  3. Talk at length about ways to murder people–and by people, we mean characters, though this has caused startled glances more than once, in public places, when the topic caught a passerby unawares.
  4. Debate things like should the body drop happen in the first chapter, or must there be a cat in our cozies, or are semi-colons wonderful or awful or somewhere in between?
  5. Attend lectures on subjects like forensics, poisons, stalkers, homicide. Realize that family members may not want us to report back with specifics, after all.
  6. Observe, observe, observe. Everything is useful: bits of an overheard argument, the way someone moves, a glimpse of an unattended suitcase. If we’re staring at you, it is possible that you—or something you’re wearing, saying, or doing—may show up in a future book.
  7. Refer to characters as if they were real. Because they are, to us.
  8. Spend too much time on social media. We could defend this using words like “promotion” and “connection” but still: we know we should be writing.
  9. Go off by ourselves to write. There is no substitute for this.
  10. Reach out during dark nights of the writerly soul. Because there is nothing quite as comforting as hearing another writer say that they have no freakin’ idea how to finish the book they’re working on, either.
  11. Dive wholeheartedly into mystery films or television shows. Talk about how much you love them too.
  12. Shout “eureka!” or the equivalent when a solution to the current plot snarl pops into mind.
  13. Think very hard about what to put on our bookmarks. They are serious business.
  14. Notice that we are drawn to designs featuring skulls, daggers, magnifying glasses, or question marks.
  15. Celebrate friends’ launches. Send congratulatory messages, share the news, go to readings, buy the book—then, see #2.
  16. Feel grateful. For readers, bloggers, editors, agents, publishers, booksellers, reviewers, and other writers.
  17. Attend fabulous conferences like Malice Domestic, Left Coast Crime, Bouchercon, and more. The force is strong with these ones.
  18. Close down the bar at any of the aforementioned conferences. Or at least hang out for awhile. Fascinating conversations blossom there.
  19. Join amazing groups like Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and so on. Connect with others who also can’t help writing or reading mysteries.
  20. Offer up thanks every day for having found the mystery community. ♥︎

What else belongs on the list, dear readers?




29 thoughts on “Things Mystery Writers Do*

  1. Yes to all of these! One thing I do regularly is lose track of the real world. It was September-ish when I was writing my Christmas book, and I would regularly panic about how I hadn’t finished any of my Christmas preparations until I remembered that Christmas in the real world was still three months away.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. 21. Read great blog posts; feel inspired.
    22. Concede semicolons are awful. Ponder why they received a place on the home row of the QWERTY keyboard.
    23. Get guest room ready for Lila Maclean’s arrival later this month (See rule #7)

    –Happy book birthday-month, Cynthia! Can’t wait 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. THE Lila Maclean? Wow, a celebrity houseguest! Worse than semicolons? Semicolons incorrectly used. (Not that I use them much, but still…)

      Liked by 2 people

  3. 24. Ponder what people do during conversations besides shrug, sigh, and shake their head.

    25. Try to figure out how to remove some of the multitude of em dashes in our manuscripts–other than replacing them with semi-colons.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Hahaha! In my books too. I should just name the next one The Shocking Case of So Much Shrugging.

      And can hardly get through a single email without some dashes!

      Tee hee re: ellipses…


  4. Great post, Cynthia. It’s nice to know that we mystery writers and readers are so…normal. (Um, right?) I have to admit, I love the double-takes I get when I tell people what I do. There’s always that split-second hesitation (or sometimes a very long pause) before the other person’s response.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. When my sons get on my nerves, I have been known from time to time to gently remind them I am a murder mystery author, so they better shape up, or else! For some reason, they don’t find this as intimidating as I wish they would.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s