What Makes a Novel a Mystery? – by Zara Altair…

Thrillers and Crime and Mysteries, Oh My!

Terminology can be bewildering. New writers need to be clear about their genre because readers of each genre have expectations about what the story will deliver. Knowing your genre facilitates marketing to reach the right readers who will appreciate and enjoy your novel.

In thrillers, the clock is ticking. The protagonist is vulnerable and must achieve their goal before time runs out. Whether it’s getting out of a capture situation or preventing the assassination of the prime minister, the protagonist works against the clock.

The crime fiction label is muddled because what Americans call mystery is called crime in the UK. Crime fiction involves a law enforcement protagonist pitting wits against a known outlaw adversary. The crime novel deals with the concept of the nature of justice.

In a mystery novel, the protagonist, either a professional or amateur sleuth, works through a discovery process to reveal the person who committed a crime, usually murder. A mystery emphasizes the solving of the crime.

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