Without notes, it’s hard to keep track of information when writing a mystery novel. As the writer, you need to remember all the facts, the clues, the witnesses, suspects, victims, time and dates, evidence, and so much more.
Outlining is not for everyone, but I think it certainly helps. There are some questions that you need to ask yourself (and most likely have an answer to before you start writing) in order to keep good track of your information.
I use the standard “who, what, where, when, why, and how” questions.
–Who is the victim?
–Who is the culprit?
–Who are the witnesses?
–Who are the suspects?
–Who are the accomplices?
–Who discovered the body?
–Who discovered the item missing?
–What was the murder weapon?
–What was stolen?
–What was the motive?
–Where did the crime occur?
–Where was the murder weapon?
–Where was the body?
–When did the crime take place?
–When was the body found?
–When were the authorities called?
–Why did the culprit do what s/he did?
–Why that certain victim?
–How did the crime occur?
–How did the culprit plan it all?
–How long was the victim dead?
Some questions are repetitive (example: what was the motive, why did the culprit do what s/he did). I do think it helps to reword the same questions because you look at it from different angles. You might get more information out of it. Plus, the more you answer the same question, the more you’ll remember.
Some questions you might not even use. Was there a robbery? Then you certainly won’t be asking yourself what the murder weapon was, when and where the body was found, etc.
I’m sure there are plenty more questions you’ll be able to think of to ask yourself when you plan out your mystery. But those are just a few to get yourself started.
It always helps to solve the mystery before you write.