How To Research Properly For Your Mystery Novel [Mystery Month]

For me, the writing process is pretty straightforward and fairly simple. I outline, then I write. Then I edit and rewrite and so on and so forth.

During the outlining part of the process, that’s when I do the bulk of my research. When it comes to writing about mystery, there’s a lot of research to do.

How To Research Properly For Your Mystery Novel | Mystery Month | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

Who is who

One thing I always look up is ranks of the people in law enforcement, what their job entails, what tools they use, and what day to day life is like for them while working.

For example, I’ll research a coroner and figure out where they typically work, what tools they use to examine bodies, the paperwork they draw up, what they do day in and day out, and more.

The same goes for a detective, police chief, forensic scientists, and more.

How to kill

Yes, we all have to research this. Whenever I Google how to kill someone I always add “in a mystery novel” in case my IP address gets flagged or something… if that’s a thing. It freaks me out either way.

Still, there are many kinds of guns and various bullets. What kind did your killer use? Was it at point-blank range? Where are the best spots on the body to shoot someone? What about the ballistic markings? It’s a lot to think about and a lot to learn.

Plus, there are so many ways to kill someone. How long does it take for someone to drown? What kinds of poisons can someone ingest and how long will it take it to work?

How to investigate

Investigating a crime scene is a process. Gloves need to be worn, evidence needs to go into bags, the scene needs to be taped off, and things need to be out of place.

What’s the process like? Who goes to the crime scene? Who responds to the calls?

And so much more

There’s a lot more to look into, to think about, and to research. Of course, fiction is still fiction and while there should be a little bit of truth in there, you can take things with a grain of salt.

How do you research for your mystery novels? What sort of things do you look up? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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How To Properly Research For Your Mystery Novel [Mystery Month]

Sure, fiction is made up, but there’s still a lot of truth to what we put down on the pages of our story.

When it comes to writing mystery, you still want to be as accurate as you can in order to make the story believable. It doesn’t want to read as fiction.

So, what can you do to make sure you’re solving your crime the right way?

How To Research For Mystery Novels

1. Read books

Read any kinds of books and read a lot of them. Read fictional mystery novels as well as true crime novels. You’ll see how other authors do it fictionally and you’ll also get a feel for the real deal reading about true crimes that have actually happened.

There are also craft books you can read about writing mysteries as well as learning about detectives and criminal justice. Not to mention, you can always thumb through a study guide of the police exam to get a feel for what they have to go through in order to get to where they are in your story when the crime happens.

2. Talk to people

I know, none of us want to talk to people, but sometimes it’s necessary and it helps a lot. If you know anyone who is going to school in the criminal justice field or who is currently undergoing the Police Academy, or someone who is an officer or detective, get in touch with them and ask questions. There’s nothing better than an original source itself.

3. Take classes

Instead of talking to people who are currently going to school for this kind of thing, why don’t you take a couple of courses yourself? Sometimes you can even find the syllabi online and you can look up the textbooks yourself and read up on it without spending a lot of money.

There are also courses on writing websites, such as Writer’s Digest, where you can take courses specializing in writing mystery and crime. Those don’t come cheap, but I’ve heard they’re worth it.

4. Watch TV

This isn’t the best piece of advice, but there are plenty of crime shows on TV. Most of them fudge the process a bit for the sake of entertainment and comedy, but there are still some truths in there. At the very least, you can learn what not to do in your novel.

5. Take to the Internet

Google isn’t always reliable, but it is your friend. Be sure to look up information on certain towns and cities that your mystery novel takes place in. Look up the laws and regulations and go on the town’s main homepage and be sure you’re writing close to home about the location. Plus, you can look up a lot of other stuff, like the points I just mentioned above.

Research can be tedious, but it can definitely be fun as well.

How do you typically research for your novel? Do you enjoy researching? What are some other research methods you use? Let me know in the comments below!

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