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I have tried like three times now to write something that could possibly be construed as a good mystery. So far, no luck. I get so embroiled in clues and details and plot that I have no freaking clue what the hell is going on. I end up making it too obvious or too convoluted. Agatha Christie once bragged that the endings of some of her novels had caught her by surprise. Well, let me tell you, that is a comment from a master mystery writer and not advice.

I tried that. It did not work out well. In fact, it didn’t work out at all. I still have no idea who did it, or even what was going on any longer. I think someone had been killed and something else stolen and then I think there was an alien menace or something or maybe that was the dream I had last time I ate garlic mash potatoes before bed.

Go in with a plan.

This is my advice to you. Figure out what the crime is and who did it first. Then plug away. If you’re anything like me, your first few attempts will be absolutely horrible. They are so obvious, my five year old niece could spot the killer a mile away, but at least they got finished. (Also, my niece is crazy smart.)

The convoluted part, the part where you’re even surprised by the end, those all come later. Focus on the writing. Remember, in every mystery that’s ever been, real or fictional, someone always knows what happened. Usually the bad guy. But there is no reason you can’t know too.