Mystery Writers Guide

Organizations, websites and general information about where to get help when writing the mystery novel.

From Shakespeare to Agatha Christie, and beyond, the reading public has always been fascinated with a well told mystery. Writers, today, are still working toward telling one more tale of murder and mayhem, of thievery, of kidnapping, of all things that can happen on a dark and stormy night. There are more resources now, than ever before to help them on their journey.

Organizations for Mystery Writers

Writers Guide

Probably the most visible group is the Mystery Writer’s of America. The MWA has eleven chapters within the United States and a corresponding membership for those in other countries. You do not have to be a published author to join MWA. They have classified memberships for professionals and those who are soon to become professional.

Sisters In Crime Inc.

Sisters in Crime Inc. is a smaller group than the MWA, although memberships can overlap. Sisters in Crime currently has 3,600 members and 48 chapters. It was started as a support group for women mystery writers, it now includes men. Their website and newsletter contains valuable information about getting started in a career as a mystery writer. A sub-group of SinC is the Guppies (The Great Unpublished) which is a ‘pond’ of information and support, including opportunities for critiquing and advice on finding an agent. You must be a member of Sisters In Crime to join the Guppies.

Websites for Mystery Writers

Mystery Writers Resources is an excellent website to bookmark if you are working on a mystery novel. Their information includes; Agent lists, Publishers and E-Publishers, as well as sites to research legal questions, guns and their use, forensics, and almost anything to do with writing about crime. They have a unique system that designates recommended sites.

Studying the Craft of Mystery Writing

P.D. James has a brief, but concise, outline of what you need to write a mystery novel at her official website. You can access this advice at Mystery Writing Lessons. The Writer’s Digest website offers various classes in mystery writing, as does the Gotham Writer’s Workshop.

Mystery Writer’s Blogs

There are any number of great blogs out there to inspire and inform the mystery writer. Among them are; Writers Who Kill, Poe’s Deadly Daughters, Dialog for Murder, Killer Characters and Jungle Red, a personal favorite, whose motto is ‘writing well is the best revenge’. There is also a Mystery Lovers Kitchen where delicious recipes are a bonus.

Recommended How-To For Mystery and Beyond

The number of how-to books, targeted for the mystery writer, is vast. Some are crime specific for evidence collecting, police procedure, and forensics. One book, by Chris Roerden, an Agatha Award Winning Author, is called ‘Don’t Sabotage Your Submission’. It contains insider information about keeping your manuscript from showing up D.O.A. (Dead On Arrival). Roerden’s book was originally called, ‘Don’t Murder Your Mystery’ but has been reissued for use with all fiction writing.

Reading for Success

Professional writers always advise those who want to be writers to do one thing: Read. If you are going to be a mystery writer, then read mysteries. A great website to begin your search for the mysteries that are going to entertain and teach is ‘Stop, You’re Killing Me!’. The site lists over 3,400 authors with a chronological book list which includes 38,000 titles. Award winners, and those nominated for awards, are also included in site information.