While it wasn’t the genre I started writing in, Mystery was the genre that inspired me to write. Specifically, detective stories packed with cliches. For me, nothing beats a story about a fiercely intelligent person who casually pieces together every detail and catches the culprit in the end.
Recently, I decided it was about time that I started writing my detective story, so I began my research and decided to share what I found in this blog post!
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Cliche Detective vs Realistic Detective
While I might be wrong in assuming a cliche detective can’t be realistic, I am simply referring to the type of detective that has its own version of pulp fiction; the suave ladies-man, sitting in a smoky room, wondering why everything is in greyscale until he is blinded by the next soft-focus, damsel-in-distress with legs-for-miles who comes waltzing in through their office door.
You know the type.
The realistic detective on the other hand is overworked, working three cases at once instead of the odd case that crosses their desk. These are most likely police detectives, who have their own problems, their own dramas. These are the detectives whose personal lives are not involved in the case and they are simply trying to get through the week and hopefully get some sleep.
These kinds of detectives have their own charm.
When deciding on the kind of detective I wanted to write, I thought the cliche detective would be the ideal choice. It allows for some extraordinary situations and even some silliness in regards to situations. However, the seriousness of the realistic detective, coupled with a beaten-down demeanour had a charm I could not resist.
Of course, that is a cliche in itself, but one that certainly fits what I want to write and read.
The Detective Jargon/Phrases/Terms
We need some words to fit the role. Detectives, professional and unprofessional, have their jargon, sometimes entire phrases.
Here are some of the most popular phrases and jargon you can use!
If there are any more terms you would like to add to the list, be sure to leave a comment. I will be updating this article from time to time to ensure that it’s always helpful. With that said, I hope some of these terms appeal to you and make it into your mystery story.
The Grim Facts
Now, the next thing you need with the jargon is some facts to make your crime scenes realistic. These facts you might want to include in your story to make it a bit more authentic, to add some depth to your writing.
The Legal Facts
Now, I’m certainly not well versed in legal matters and it’s a crucial side to detective stories, so the list of facts I’ve learned isn’t so long. I would certainly appreciate those who are knowledgeable on these matters to provide any more facts.
With that said, here are the facts I have gathered so far!
Detective Tips & Tricks
Here are some techniques that your detective/gumshoe/sleuth might use for examining a crime scene or a person. If you have any more to add, be sure to let me know!
Tips for Writing a Mystery Novel
These are some key tips for the writing of your mystery novel or detective story. Some of these you might be familiar with, some might not fit your style of writing or the story you are going for, but there are sure to be some tips you need to keep in mind when writing your novel.
When it comes to police ranks, I researched the American police system. I found a truly helpful page that gave me the lowest rank to the highest rank in a police department. You can check it out for yourself here if you are interested, but here are the simplified versions of the police ranks, from lowest to highest:
I find it important to know these ranks when writing a police detective, just so I know who the detective takes orders from and who they give orders to; in short, who commands more respect. It makes it much easier to assign ranks to certain characters, depending on the role I have for them in the story.
Those are the facts and tips for writing a mystery novel, for now, I hope you found them useful. This is an ongoing blog post that will be updated regularly and as some of my students know, it will make an excellent starting point for my next course; Writing a Detective Story Filled With Mystery.
I look forward to discussing the genre with you and sharing new ideas. It’s a personal favourite of mine and I’m sure it is for many of you reading this.
Thank you and as always,
Good day, goodnight and happy writing!