by Bryn Donovan
Hi, everyone! You know how I love working on story ideas and creative writing exercises, and I’ve been reading a lot of mystery novels lately — mostly cozy mysteries, not gritty crime novels, although I might enjoy those, too. That inspired me to write this list of prompts — and pieces of plots — for mystery stories.
The basic mystery plot formula is pretty simple. Early on, a dead body turns up, a valuable item goes missing, or a puzzle begs to be solved. The reader knows that by the end of the book, questions will have been answered, which is a comforting element in even the most gruesome murder mysteries.
The originality and charm, of course, is mostly in the execution. Ten different writers could take the same writing prompt here and write ten vastly different stories, so there’s no reason to worry about whether it’s okay to get inspiration from here.
You can also use this list as an idea generator for free writing. If you’re like me and you have a hard time keeping your writing habit when life gets hectic, grabbing a journal, going to a coffee shop or library, and writing to an idea starter can be a wonderful break. Whether you stumble across a story idea you love in the process, or you just get your creative writing juices flowing again, it’s so worth it.
Although I had mystery novels in mind, some of these could become a subplot in a different fiction genre, from fantasy and romance (especially romantic suspense), to historical fiction and young adult novels.