One of the many fun things about being in a writer’s group is talking about writing and learning how other people in the group approach the craft of writing. We were sitting around the table at Sharon Shinn’s house (our writer’s group Super Hero headquarters) earlier this year critiquing an absolutely brilliant new mystery from member Rett McPherson, author of the highly popular Torie O’Shea mysteries and Word Posse’s own Sleeping the Churchyard Sleep. We were all mesmerized by how effortlessly Rett had kept all the suspects in play. So what was her secret?
She told us that while writing her mysteries even she does not know who did it, who the murderer is. So she has to keep all her options open, giving her the most flexibility when she gets to the end of the story and really has to pick the murderer. Then she goes back, during the editing stages, and tightens up the story around the ending. This approach allows her to present all the suspects as though each one committed the murder. It keeps everyone fresh and in play. What a wonderful writing tip! If you want to see this technique used by a master, grab a copy of Rett’s Sleeping the Churchyard Sleep.