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MYSTERY CLUES: CLUE TRAIL From Whodunnit to Solution

Read CLUE TRAIL and then

Get the Plot Out of Your Head and Onto Paper!

If you have ever wondered about mystery clues:  what kind are needed and how to make or hide them, this book will tell you.

Lists clues of all kinds with examples to help you understand what makes a clue and how to twist it and hide it until all is revealed at the end – AH HA! It was actually obvious all along : )

Part One instructs you on the use of The Mystery Bones Method, which helps you keep track of the plot so that no vital bits of information are forgotten.

Part Two describes, in great detail, the many different kinds of clues that can be used to trick and misdirect your reader or audience.

Part Three is full of Bonus Material on easy mysteries for children, different kinds of mystery scripts and the quintessential Locked Room Mystery.


How to Create a Fairplay Mystery Plot or Party
Anatomy of a Mystery: Plot Elements
THE DIRT:  What Happens?
Decide on a Crime
THE BONES:  Motive, Method & Opportunity
Motive:  Why Did It Happen?
Method:  How Did It Happen?
Opportunity:  When Did It Happen?
THE MUSCLES:  Cast of Characters
Characters:  Victim, Suspects, Villain, Detective
THE TENDONS:  Connecting Muscles to Bones
Circle of Suspects Chart
Connections & Secrets Chart
Basic Plot Wheel
Compilation Chart
THE HEART:  What Actually Happened
Extra:  Information about Plotting
THE MIND:  What Appeared to Happen
THE SOUL:  The Clue Trail

From Whodunnit to Solution
CLUE TRAILSWhat Kind to Use
Positive Clue Trail:  Progressive Identification
Negative Clue Trail:  Progressive Elimination
CLUES:  Direct / Physical / Tangible Evidence                                    
CLUES:  Indirect / Intellectual / Intangible Evidence                       
The Keystone Clue & The AH-HA Clue
Twisting Clues
Red Herrings:   False Clues
Twisting Characters
Twisting Circumstances
Detecting:  Looking at Clues from the Other Side
Motive Clues:  Why Did It Happen?
Method Clues:  How Did It Happen?
Opportunity Clues:  When Did It Happen?
The Complete List
Clue Chart:  Positive Clue Trail with Scenes
Live Parties & Locked Rooms
Clue Chart:  Negative Clue Trail – Two Part Clues
MYSTERY Scripts, Parties & Events
Types of Scripts
Cast Your Mystery


READ CLUE TRAIL and find out how to stump your audience / reader and gain their respect and admiration.


and after you have read the book:

Dear Mystery Fans,
 That’s how it’s done. Good luck paying attention to the tingle in yourself that tells you what you just read or heard is worth paying attention to. Matching wits against the detective is one of the most engaging challenges there is.

If you find you are constantly figuring out ‘whodunnit’ before you get to the end of the story, maybe it’s time to write your own.

 Dear Readers,
 This book has been a labour of love for me and I hope it gave you as much pleasure to read it as it gave me to write it.

At Your Service 

  • This is the best book on writing a mystery that I have read, and I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to create a fairplay mystery! I have read thousands of mysteries and numerous craft books on story and mystery writing. But still, as I have been working to complete my first mystery novel, I have struggled with the apparent complexity of managing all the suspects and clues.

    Clue Trail demystifies mystery plotting by outlining a step-by-step process that is more clear and illuminating than anything I have read before. The book unravels the mystery of writing mysteries to reveal that it is in fact a very simple process — as long as you take it step by step. Clue Trail provides everything you need to understand the elements of a fairplay mystery, including how to manage suspects, types of clues and how to hide them, and, crucially, how to twist the clue trail so that readers are kept guessing until the very end.

    A hallmark of Agatha Christie’s ingenious mysteries is her ability to make the outcome feel both surprising and inevitable. Clue Trail explains how to achieve this, and it is clearly the work of someone who has analyzed scores of successful mysteries. The author’s insight — which no doubt was acquired over years of reading and study — is available to all in this excellent book. Do yourself a favor and buy it!

    • Hi Cathy – Thanks! I am so glad that you found it useful. I really liked your email too, so I am putting a snip of it here. I’m sure you will enjoy Alamanac of the Infamous too!

      I posted a review of your wonderful book, and I am so grateful to have it. I am digging in to my novel today with renewed excitement and enthusiasm, thanks to the clarity your book has brought me. I particularly appreciated the reminders you included throughout Clue Trail that plotting a mystery is simple if you do it one step at a time. I have definitely let my mind scare me, and too often, this resulted in me avoiding writing altogether. I feel now that I have everything I need to bravely forge ahead, with your book as my comfort and guide.

      From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

      Best regards,
      Cathy Walsh
      p.s. I discovered your book, Almanac of the Infamous, the Incredible and the Ignored, and I am fascinated. I have added it to my wishlist and look forward to purchasing it when I am able!

  • With “Clue Trail” Juanita has written a clear and comprehensive guide to crafting a mystery that guides you comprehensively through every step with care and gives you a clear path through the jungle of clues, suspects and solutions.

  • I would like to use this comment as an endorsement for the book “Clue Trails.”

    If you’re a writer who has tried to write a fair play mystery, then you know how difficult it is to account for all the details a reader expects in a WhoDunIt. I tried to write a story by the seat of my pants, but failed to keep my characters motive, means, and opportunities in check. It stalled. I guess I’m more of a planner, and I did successfully outline a mystery, but then came the clues. Again, I stalled because I lacked the knowledge of how and when to insert clues. So, my good ideas are abandoned in Scrivener or Word, just waiting for a guiding light.

    Ms Violini’s book (Clue Trails) has shined a light on why I stalled. The book provides clear direction on building the “bones” of a thorough mystery, accounting for the MMMs and usable guidance on clues. Her easy-to-understand examples and fill-in the-blank diagrams have led me back to my library of stalled stories and given me a trail to follow – a Clue Trail.

    I don’t think the book will solve all of my problems, though. I still have to imagine the details to put in the blanks. But with her diagrams at my side and a pocket full of sound advice, I’m one step closer.

    I did work with Ms Violini via email for purchase options. I suggest you do to.


  • Hi Juanita,

    Is it possible to see a bit more about your clue trails (i.e. the positive clue trails or creating clues)? Do you have a sample of this material? I am curious and looking for information that can help me write my cozy mystery novel.


    • Hi Allyssa! YAY MYSTERY WRITERS!!!! You can get started with clue information on this page: How to write a fairplay mystery, complete with clues is covered in the book CLUETRAIL. Lots of diagrams and charts so you don’t lose track of information or wind up with loose ends at the end of the story. Basically your killer is the only one who will have the motive, the method and the opportunity to commit the crime. Then you create clues that support those things and hide them in the story. the e-book is $50 or you can buy a hardcopy for $20 plus shipping. I also do story coaching. If you are strapped for cash, send me an email and we will see what we can work out.

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