Writing a detective novel requires careful story planning, clues, criminals, and motive(s) among other things. The writer must be clear in the logical sequence of the story. It has to be well worded, articulate, free flowing, and make the reader a visual participant of the event taking place.
Unlike a movie where the director can convey through visuals, speech and sound, while writing a detective novel the writer must depend on his writing capability to express the scene, feelings, pain, happiness, suspense or anger. The writer cannot show these expressions but has to describe them in a manner that the reader feels he can see them and not miss the visual impact of a cinema.
Detective story building blocks while writing a detective novel could be:
Detective Story Building Blocks
• Who is the Detective: Defining a detective could be ‘someone who is searching for the truth’.
• Brief outline of the plot. The blocks can be rearranged later as the story develops.
• Background about the detective. Who is he as a person? Some information about his personal life and interests.
• Can some of the detective’s personal attributes be linked to the story? What motivates the person – as an individual and as a professional?
• Is there anyone else who assists him or her? It could be a colleague if the person is a professional Law Enforcement authority or an amateur could be a friend / family member.
• A brief overview of the crime or plot and what is the reason or motive of the crime.
• Who is / are the perpetrators or suspects. Create a brief description of each along with possible motive of each.
• What are the levels of opponents, for example a lone killer, gang with henchmen, etc. The most powerful of these could be the hidden opponent, possibly a close friend or business associate – ‘the pal who turns out to be working for the opposition.
• Description of the sequel of the crime & the criminals steps to hide the crime.
• What are the possible reasons of the crime! Sub-plots could be woven into 2 – 3 stories mutually-exclusive where the investigation is carried out on each of the leads. Eventually one lead ends by exposing the criminal, the method of the crime and the reason or motive.
• When writing a detective novel, determine the apparent explanations for the crime, which the detectives will discover and follow before they find out the actual explanation?
• Clues and red herrings should be planted to make the story exciting.
• Some detailing on how the clues were handled leading to discarding the red herrings and why the balance few clues are pursued.
Some suspense can be built while writing a detective novel where the detective has to make a difficult choice in pursuing one trail even though the other trail is equally probable. The novel should be written in such a manner that the reader is eager to turn the next page. This forms the backbone of detective novels.