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Beneath the Covers,Past
A Romance Column
By Carol Ann Culbert Johnson

The Genre of Mystery With A Touch of Romance Added…..

The murder, and who did it? Who is the mystery killer? I find myself asking these questions often when I am watching Cold Case, a television drama solving closed murder file cases on CBS. Sometimes I am right, but most of the time I am wrong. In this drama for television, the killer could be anyone, and I find that it’s the least likely person that you would suspect of committing such a hideous crime.

I am addicted to the genre of mystery. I want to know who did it at the end of the novel, guessing that I am right on the head. I want to read a good mystery novel, and in the mix of solving the crime, I want to see added romance. There is the detective solving the crime, and the suspect, who is a damsel in distress; but the detective ends up falling desperately and deeply in love with the suspect. Is she the murderer? Is she just a victim? The relationship between the two will create a mixture of mystery and romance, making for a great murder mystery/romance.

“Mystery: One whose identity is unknown and who arouses curiosity,” states the American Heritage Dictionary. The unknown is what you find in most mystery novels. James Patterson comes to mind when I think about mystery because he’s a storyteller of mysteries and thrillers. In his series about the The Women’s Murder Club, there is so much violence it’s unthinkable, but I find Mr. Patterson a genius with his twists and turns.

Another mystery writer/thriller author is Perri O’ Shaughnessy, who is actually two authors. Show No Fear, their latest novel about a paralegal turned attorney Nina, who defends both criminals and the innocent... and some of their crimes are horrific to say the least. I love the authors’ style of writing, and I am fascinated by their books. They are very talented and creative writers, as much as James Patterson.

In my own writing career, I find myself writing mystery short stories, and loving the genre of the unknown. I even wrote a novel, not published yet, titled The Ultimate Sins, about a black serial killer who is killing women he thinks are tramps and whores like his mother. I found the character of the serial killer very intriguing, of course.

Enough about me, of course, (laughing). My ultimate goal is to enlighten you about the different genres of writing, with romance, vampire style, historical style, and now mystery style, each with a plot including romance added along the way. I don’t think you can go wrong with reading a mystery novel, enjoying the mechanics of all the clues and traveling down a path of who did it?

So if you want to get away from other styles of writing genres, and find something new and exciting then sample the world of mystery—a series of "the plot thickens, I can’t believe he/she is the murderer? I thought it was her/him. Why did he/she do it? I thought he loved her/him. This can’t be happening."

There are a lot of elements to mystery writing. Here are a few tips from the website:

  • A story begins with a plan.
  • The main character is the focus.
  • To help out the main character you need minor characters.
  • The main character is the plot – she/he has a conflict, and she/he has to solve it.
  • Clues in the story are the key.
  • Put some red herrings to twist up the plot.
  • Don’t forget the suspense which builds the story.
  • The place/setting is very important in the story.
  • Begin a mystery novel with action.
  • Know the ending before the story is created.

These elements of mystery writing will combine to present a novel of mystery, intrigue and suspense. Take a ride with James Patterson and Perri O’Shaughnessy, or other mystery writers, and you will climb through the story to the key to solving the mystery, learning to be careful and accurate around all those red herrings in the process. Not only will you enjoy the anticipation, but the apprehension and expectancy will get you every time


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