Uncovering the Mystery of Writing a Mystery: Inside the Mind of Melinda Metz
Posted by inkpopbecki on July 28, 2010
So what does it take to map out an entire series based on a mystery? Melinda Metz is here to discuss writing her new thriller series, Echoes. Want to ask a question of your own? Join us for our live chat with author Melinda Metz at 5 p.m. EST on the inkpop forums.
Echoes is the first in a three part mystery series. What does it take to write a series mystery? Is there a great deal of planning that goes into such an endeavor?
Any mystery takes a lot of planning—figuring out where to put in clues, how to misdirect the reader’s suspicion, coming up with motivations for red herring characters—and a series with one central mystery that isn’t solved until the last book takes even more careful plotting. Each book needs to resolve a piece of the mystery, so the book is satisfying to read on its own, but as new information comes out, new questions have to be raised to keep the tension up. The main characters also need personal changes in their lives. They need to grow and change as the story moves on, and that’s also something I think about when I’m working on a series. I love the challenge of plotting a long story, and I had a great time brainstorming with my editor, Liesa Abrams, about the twists and turns the Echoes series should take.
What inspired you to write a paranormal mystery?
I remember when I was in elementary school my cousin did an inventory of my bookshelf. The top two categories were books with witches in them and books with horses in them. I’ve always loved to read (and still do) stories about magic and the supernatural, and over and over, I’ve been drawn to writing stories that have at least a tingle of the paranormal in them. I guess I like to write what I like to read. (Someday, I’m sure I’ll tackle magical horses ridden by witches!)
With paranormal there are always rules that define what your characters can and cannot do. How do you conceive of these rules and how does this help the narrative in Echoes?
Rules are definitely key, and they are something I do a lot of thinking about at the beginning of a book or series that has a paranormal element. I think the paranormal powers need to have limits, and I like there to be consequences to using the powers. If a person can do anything with her powers, there isn’t as much tension. Someone all powerful can’t be in real danger.
Rules also help with plotting. They limit the possibilities in a
story, which sounds negative, but is actually really useful, because I find it brings the book into focus. In the first Echoes book, the main character, Rae, spends a lot of time learning what the rules of her power are. At first she thinks she’d going crazy, but gradually she comes to understand what’s happening.
Want to hear more from Melinda Metz? Join us for a live chat with Melinda Metz at 5 p.m. EST on the inkpop forums today!