What Readers Are Saying….

I asked some of my social media friends, who read mysteries, what they thought went into making an engaging read. Here are some of those replies with my added commentary.
One reader replied that a mystery novel should begin with a solid hook. Sometimes, a hook is all it takes to get a reader interested. On the other hand, often readers will close the cover on a book if it doesn’t invite them in by the first page.
Here are the hooks I’ve written so far in the Dana Greer Mystery Series:
Something was wrong; Raymond McGregor could sense it. (Prologue/UNHOLY SECRETS)
I heard a high-pitched screech. (Prologue/SILENT BETRAYAL)
Grotto of Lourdes Cemetery, a popular tourist spot established in 1892, was known for its majestic shrine, where it was said miracles had taken place. (Prologue/BITTER WRATH)
Another reader responded, readers like to feel involved with the characters and care what happens to them.
Of course, this applies to the protagonist, but the secondary characters require the same type of attention. The term stick figure is often used to explain a character that is not three dimensional.
I like to think of characters, as people, having six sides: physical, emotional, social, cognitive, creative, and spiritual.
Speaking of Dana Greer, I like to accentuate her blond curls or the red suit she likes to wear with matching heels. When stressed or over-worked, she suffers from migraines.
Emotionally, she comes with a back story. At the age of seven, her uncle attempted to abuse her while the two were in his rowboat. The aftereffects of that night still plague her mind as she felt too dirty to enter the convent as had been her dream since a young child. When anxious, she finds comfort running her fingers along the cover of a miniature Bible that she always carries with her.
Socially, Dana finds herself separated from her husband in book one of the series. She eventually learns that ever since the two married, her husband Nate, had been seeing a prostitute. The culmination of her marriage comes in book two when she learns her husband, a police officer, has been killed while out on a domestic abuse case. Dana finds herself quite shy around men as a result of these incidents.
Intellectually, Dana comes across as people said in the 1950s as a smart cookie. Although she is often complimented on her sleuth abilities, she just as often gets the attention of one too many men who see her only as a beautiful blond.
Dana has her own flair or creative style about solving crimes based on what she learned from her former mentor Fiona Wharton
Shortly after her marriage to Nate, she forgoes her involvement in the Catholic Church. Although raised in the Catholic Church and having attended Catholic school, she leaves the Church as a young adult. In the beginning of the series, she finds herself longing to return with the idea she will…at some point.
One of the readers commented that he wants the mysteries he reads to have a good tempo. Pace is essential to mystery. Tension is what helps to create that edge of your seat thrill. But as in cooking a good stew, mystery needs just enough salt and pepper. There must be falling action as well, where readers can catch their breath before another crisis hits.
Whether a novel’s setting involves a cesspool of corruption, has the Ku Klux Klan lurking in the shadows, or has experienced a mysterious kidnapping, readers want and expect to experience a roller-coaster ride!
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As a note of interest, later this year, I will be offering an online course called: Fun with Fiction for beginning and intermediate writers. Check back on my website, Facebook, or Instagram.