Suspense = Can’t stop reading aka a ‘page turner’.
Mystery Writing rules – 1928
In 1928, Father Ronald Arbuthnott Knox (1888 – 1957) priest and crime writer, created a “Ten Commandments” of plot devices that more or less codified the rules of the Fair-play whodunnit. A few of them are vastly outdated now, but still, fun to look over and appreciate in principal:
- The criminal must be someone mentioned in the early on, but must not be anyone whose thoughts the reader has been allowed to follow.
- All supernatural solutions are ruled out.
- No more than one secret room or passage is allowable, and must be appropriate.
- No hitherto undiscovered poisons may be used, nor any appliance which will need a long scientific explanation at the end.
- No Chinaman must figure in the story. ( A case of unsophisticated anti-racism, given the Yellow Peril figures prevalent in dodgy crime fiction at the time.)
- No accidents or lucky intuition must ever help the detective.
- The detective must not himself commit the crime.
- The detective must not light on any clues which are not instantly produced for the inspection of the reader.
- The detective and his sidekick must not conceal any thoughts which pass through his mind.
- Twin brothers, and doubles generally, must not appear unless we have been prepared for them.
Mysteries are Really Two Stories
One story is What Appeared to Happen, and the second story, which everyone is trying to figure out, is What Really Happened. as the meme below clearly illustrates.
Technique & Miscellaneous Advice
Looking for a good way to dispose of the remains?
“There is nothing quite so good as burial at sea. It is simple, tidy, and not very incriminating.” Alfred Hitchcock (English Film Director, 1899 – 1980)