Posted in Mystery Month, Writing

Inspiration Station: The Perfect Crime

The Perfect Crime

What is a perfect crime?

A perfect crime is a crime that is so carefully planned and executed that it is nearly impossible to solve. With that being said, perfect crimes don’t really exist. It may take a few years to solve a crime, but as far as I know, about 9.9 times out of 10, the crimes are solved.

 

Can you create a perfect crime in a fictional mystery novel?

As a mystery writer you can certainly leave the readers begging for answers; they’re minds continuously trying to solve the crime long after the book is over.

But, unless you plan on a few sequels, that would be mean.

Sure, you want your readers begging for more. You also want them to be satisfied as well. Readers are a tough crowd, I know.

What elements should you have in a mystery novel?

There are a few key elements needed to make for a good mystery. You can’t really have one without the other, either. All the elements need to work together in order to make the crime work.

A Crime

This is an obvious one. Mysteries stem from suspense and most do that through a crime; whether it’s a murder, a robbery, a kidnapping, etc.

The characters need to be asking questions in order to give the readers a sense that something is wrong. There is a problem, there is a puzzle that needs to be solved, nothing (or not everything) is being explained, someone is keeping a secret.

Clues

In order to help solve the mystery, you need to lay out clues for the readers and the characters. Clues can range from objects, such as a weapon, or people, such as witnesses.

The objects are also known as evidence. Anything that can be put in a bag, analyzed, and dusted for fingerprints, it’s evidence.

Of course, statements from witnesses, victims, and suspects are also evidence to see whose story matches and whose doesn’t.

Law Enforcement Figures

Every crime novel needs a few characters in the law enforcement field whether they’re a police officer, detective, lawyer, judge, etc.

The law enforcement needs to be involved in order to solve the crime, discover the clues, and make accusations.

Dead-Ends

Will the law enforcement team make correct accusations all the time? Probably not.

Every once in a while a clue will be picked up that will lead the investigators down the wrong path. When that time comes, a new clue will pop up steering them in the right direction once more. Or, they’ll have to start back from the beginning.

How can you keep track of each crime?

It’s a lot of note-taking, but as long as you–as the writer–stays organized and keeps notes, your readers will be able to follow easily.

Keep a list of clues, know the problem and conclusion ahead of time, and give each witness and suspect careful statements.

With all this being said, mysteries aren’t too bad to write. In the end, everything falls into place. It’s just a lot of thinking involved. Make your readers think, make them proud when they finally get to the end of the book and realized they solved the crime before the protagonist did.

Writing Prompt:

A detective is called to the scene of a bank robbery. The culprit got away with $100,000. There are no signs of a break-in and there’s some blood on the lobby floor. An elderly couple living across the street are the only two witnesses. What happened?

Related Articles:

6 Secrets to Creating and Sustaining Suspense
Elements of the Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, and/or Crime Fiction Genres
25 Things You Need to Know About Writing Mysteries

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Author:

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Rachel Poli is a writer and blogger. She has an associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education and a bachelor’s degree in English Studies. She enjoys writing young adult novels, middle-grade, and children’s picture books. She is currently working on her first novel.

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