The Genres: Mystery/Crime

The next genre I want to talk about is mystery and crime. First off, mysteries.

We all know what a mystery is, so I’m not going to go down that path, but I will say that mysteries are probably the most difficult to write, simply because the writer must avoid predictability. If your reader predicts the ending, and I don’t mean guess, the reader probably read spoilers, or your book isn’t very good.

The most difficult thing for any novel writer to do is insert mystery, yet leave clever, but slightly obscured, clues lying around for the reader to figure out. That’s one of the reasons reading is so fun!

Also the mystery can’t fall flat. If you want to impact readers, don’t leave them with a dry twist. You don’t want them to say something like, “Is THAT it?” or, “I read five hundred pages for that?” Make it a shock, give it the WOW factor. What that is, I can’t say, you must find it yourself.

Another thing I want to talk about in mysteries is probably not directly related to the genre, but I’ll say it anyway. Don’t make your story so much of a mystery that the reader can’t see God in it at all. I believe, and love, allegories and metaphors when done right, but if I can’t see God in them, what’s the point? If an unbeliever reads it without the slightest clue of God the whole way through, then he gets to the end to find that you were talking about God all along, he will feel cheated and feel forced to swallow a religion pill, what I like to call it 🙂 So avoid vagueness in your writing, and make sure the mystery is gripping and worthwhile, even past the last page!

Now on to Crime. Crime isn’t a genre I read a lot of since it’s the most violent. Ted Dekker does them the best, but I wouldn’t recommend them to younger readers. I wouldn’t recommend any crime novels to younger readers, and I mostly avoid them myself.

Why crime is the most violent is because it explores the worst things people can possibly do. Crime, by definition, is things people do that are against the law, and since the law is righteous and holy, everything that is against it isn’t.

There are Christian crime writers, and it shouldn’t be written off as unnecessary. We should examine the sinfulness of people’s ways, and show how evil and of a need of a saviour they are. I’ve explored violence in my previous post, How Far Should We Go? So I won’t repeat it. The standards a Christian writer should follow when writing a crime novel are pretty straight forward: don’t make it so violent that your Christian reader is disgusted, because we like to stay away from that stuff 🙂 Don’t spread the message that the person committing the crime is only doing it because he/she got brought up in a bad home and was abused, or his environment encourages him to do those things. It’s not the environment or the way he was raised, it’s his sinful heart, because he can choose to walk away. Don’t make it look, “Not that bad,” as well, because you don’t want to give readers ideas that they can do it if they only abstain from this or that.

So, when writing crime, show the sinfulness of man, and the power of the love of Jesus, because He loves everyone of every race and every kind.

As a side note, there’s a song by a Christian band called Showbread called, A man with a hammer. Yes, strange title, but it is one of the most touching, beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. It goes through four stories of explicit content: a man who decides to kill his family, a woman who commits adultery, an abortion, and a rape. In the end, the singer says “Every woman, every man, all ransomed by your love for them.” And in the chorus, “Oh the thought of what sets a person free, before I could love you back, you gave your love to me. Now I see my sentencing reprieved. You offer me your everything, even though I am still me.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v+JIk1nJKnfO0 Here’s the link. Probably not suitable for little ones 🙂

God Bless!”

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3 thoughts on “The Genres: Mystery/Crime

  1. I probably can’t write to save my life, but I do know where your coming from with the mystery and the crime. I do think that if you can’t have Jesus in a mystery or crime, than you shouldn’t be writing the book at all. When I got Rooms (by James L. Rubart) I was intrigued from the start, because as you said, mystery books shouldn’t be predictable. So good job.
    God bless.

    1. Oh, don’t say that, I’m sure you can write something if you put your all into it 🙂 Thanks for the comment by the way. I agree with Rooms, that was a good example of how a mystery should be! The Book of Days is also another great mystery!
      God Bless.

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