The Elements of Mystery Fiction: Writing the Modern Whodunit
By William G. Tapply
Read How You Want, (2009) EasyRead Super Large Print, in 20 Point TiresiasLPfont
(Originally Published in Standard Print by Poisoned Pen Press)
Genre: Writing & Publishing
Reviewed by Auggie Moore - April 22, 2010
William G. Tapply's classic writing book, The Elements of Mystery Fiction: Writing the Modern Whodunit has been fully updated and expanded to meet the needs of the modern mystery writer. Tapply is the author of more than twenty mystery and suspense novels, including the famed Brady Coyne mysteries series. His book, The Elements of Mystery Fiction has long been the standard guide for novice and experienced writers looking to break into the mystery market. This is not simply a 'how-to' book that teachers you the nuts and bolts of how to write a novel, from finding your story to revising your story. Rather it is also designed to explain to you the basic elements that go into the formation of a mystery novel and to help you learn a lot of techniques and tricks of successful mystery writers - without having to go through years of trial and error to discover these truisms on your own.
This new edition of The Elements of Mystery Fiction, in addition to Tapply's sage advice also includes new chapters, that include not only interviews with, but also chapters written, by some of today's notable writers and publishers. These chapters will help you to understand the ins and outs of the publishing industry and some of the finer points of mystery writing. These added chapters include:
- Writing the Mystery Series, by Philip R. Craig
- Standalone or Series Mystery?, by Bill Eidson
- Seeing Double: Making Collaboration Work, by Hallie Ephron
- Doing Business with Agents, an interview with Fred Morris
- Editing and Publishing Mysteries, an interview with Barbara Peters
- The Bookselling Business, an interview with Otto Penzler
- Publicizing Your Mystery Novel, an interview with Jeremiah Healy
- Persistence, by Vicki Stiefel
While writers of every ilk will find this book invaluable, it will also be of interest to mystery readers. This is because the book not only explains the mechanics that go into writing a mystery, but it will help you to analyze the structure and effectiveness of the book you are reading, as well as explaining the various forms that a mystery novel can take. Along the way you also learn about the history and development of the mystery as a unique genre. Both readers and writers will come away from this book with a solid understanding of how mystery novels are written and the unique elements that go into crafting a solid mystery plot. The Elements of Mystery Fiction is essential reading for anyone desirous of learning how to write a solid, well-crafted mystery, and I highly recommend this book to everyone with an interest in mystery fiction!
As a side note, one of the nicest features of this book, in addition to the advice that Tappley offers, is the fact that it is now available in large print and in audio formats, courtesy of Read How You Want. There are a great number of blind and visually impaired writers - ranging from well-known writers such as Stephen King, who suffers from macular degeneration to little know writers such as, well, me. Yet very few writing books are ever issued in large print or audio editions, so those of us who read 'how-to' writing books are often forced to make due with amateurishly scanned or recorded copies that might be of dubious quality. It was a real pleasure to find this large print edition of this essential text for novice mystery writers.
The Elements of Mystery Fiction: Writing the Modern Whodunit is available from Read How You Want, an on-demand publisher that makes books available in a variety of formats including Braille, DAISY, and five different large print formats. This range of formats makes this, and other books, available not only to visually impaired individuals, but also anyone with a reading or physical disability that makes reading standard print books difficult.
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