Gift Guide

Writing Mysteries: A Handbook by the Mystery Writers of America [NOOK Book]


Here's your ticket to the greatest mystery-writing workshop ever!

In this extraordinary compilation, more than three dozen members ...

See more details below
Writing Mysteries: A Handbook by the Mystery Writers of America

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$10.49 price
(Save 38%)$16.99 List Price


Here's your ticket to the greatest mystery-writing workshop ever!

In this extraordinary compilation, more than three dozen members of the Mystery Writers of America share insights and advice that can help make your writing dreams a reality.

You'll learn how to:

  • Develop unique ideas
  • Construct an airtight plot packed with intrigue and suspense
  • Create compelling characters and atmospheric settings
  • Develop a writing style all your own
  • Write convincing dialogue
  • Choose the appropriate point of view
  • Work with an agent
  • Conduct accurate research
  • and much, much more!

You'll also find special guidelines for creating clues, dropping red herrings, and writing medical, legal, historical, true crime, and young adult mysteries. It's all the information you need to solve the mystery-writing riddle!
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Have you thought of joining the ranks of the world's top mystery writers? Sue Grafton, queen of the Alphabet Mysteries (A Is for Alibi, B Is for Burglar, and so on), and co-editors Jan Burke and Barry Zeman cover everything it takes to write a successful mystery, from preparation to specialties. The ingredients for brewing up an unforgettable plot and compelling characters, choosing a point of view, infallible structure, dialogue that works, and rippling pacing, are served up here in a host of contributions from some of the most respected writers in the genre.

The book is itself a journey through some still-uncharted territory -- the great mystery of the writer's art. It serves as a superb guide -- with shared anecdotes regarding both successful and failed attempts at various techniques -- by writers who have managed to find their niche and triumph in the genre. In the section entitled "In Search of the Novel," George C. Chesbro sums it up by recognizing "one of the greatest thrills a fiction writer can experience: discovery." The art of discovery is the true journey of writing mysteries. So, all you aspiring mystery writers -- discover, plot, craft, and most of all write, write, write. The next spellbinding mystery to hit the bookstores may be yours. (Evie Rhodes)

Sue Grafton
Mystery writers are the magicians of fiction. We're the illusionists, working with sleight of hand in the performance of our art. With this book, we'll be taking you behind the scenes so you can see how the riddles are created and the illusions sustained.
Library Journal
Like many Writer's Digest publications, this work serves as an excellent resource for the published and the would-be author. Editor Grafton, herself the successful author of the Kinsey Milhone series, orchestrates the contributions of many distinguished detective/mystery writers, including Tony Hillerman, Lawrence Block, and Ed Hock. This how-to book differs from other Writer's Digest books in that the articles move sequentially through the process from preparation to publication. The specialties section focuses on mysteries for young people and short story mysteries. A good choice for both public libraries' and writers' book shelves.-- Martin J. Hudacs, Solanco H.S., Quarryville, Pa .
A comprehensive mystery writing guide. The contributors, all members of the Mystery Writers of America, present informal essays on the special aspects and problems of writing mystery fiction, including making stories more taut, more real, more immediate, and more fraught with tension. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781582976488
  • Publisher: F+W Media
  • Publication date: 4/8/2002
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 149,245
  • File size: 487 KB

Meet the Author

Sue Grafton
Grafton is a writer on a mission: Already two-thirds of the way into her series of alphabetic murder stories starring P. I. Kinsey Millhone, she aims to make it to the end. Millhone, who has her own bio on Grafton's web site, indeed seems to have taken on a life of her own. She is "human-sized," as Grafton says, a simple gal solving complex, irresistible murder cases.


Sue Grafton is published in 28 countries and 26 languages -- including Estonian, Bulgarian, and Indonesian. She's an international bestseller with a readership in the millions. She's a writer who believes in the form that she has chosen to mine: "The mystery novel offers a world in which justice is served. Maybe not in a court of law," she has said, "but people do get their just desserts." And like Raymond Chandler and Ross Macdonald, Robert Parker and the John D. MacDonald—the best of her breed—she has earned new respect for that form. Her readers appreciate her buoyant style, her eye for detail, her deft hand with character, her acute social observances, and her abundant storytelling talents.

But who is the real Sue Grafton? Many of her readers think she is simply a version of her character and alter ego Kinsey Millhone. Here are Kinsey's own words in the early pages of N Is for Noose:

"So there I was barreling down the highway in search of employment and not at all fussy about what kind of work I'd take. I wanted distraction. I wanted some money, escape, anything to keep my mind off the subject of Robert Deitz. I'm not good at good-byes. I've suffered way too many in my day and I don't like the sensation. On the other hand, I'm not that good at relationships. Get close to someone and the next thing you know, you've given them the power to wound, betray, irritate, abandon you, or bore you senseless. My general policy is to keep my distance, thus avoiding a lot of unruly emotion. In psychiatric circles, there are names for people like me."

Those are sentiments that hit home for Grafton's readers. And she has said that Kinsey is herself, only younger, smarter, and thinner. But are they an apt description of Kinsey's creator? Well, she's been married to Steve Humphrey for more than twenty years. She has three kids and two grandkids. She loves cats, gardens, and good cuisine—not quite the nature-hating, fast-food loving Millhone. So: readers and reviewers beware. Never assume the author is the character in the book. Sue, who has a home in Montecito, California ("Santa Theresa") and another in Louisville, the city in which she was born and raised, is only in her imagination Kinsey Millhone -- but what a splendid imagination it is.

Biography from author website

Read More Show Less
    1. Hometown:
      Montecito, California and Louisville, Kentucky
    1. Date of Birth:
      April 24, 1940
    2. Place of Birth:
      Louisville, Kentucky
    1. Education:
      B.A. in English, University of Louisville, 1961
    2. Website:

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Pt. I Preparation
1 The Rules and How to Bend Them 6
2 Sparks, Triggers, and Flashes 13
3 On Work Schedules 20
4 Writing With a Partner, or ... What Part of "No" Don't You Understand? 26
5 Expertise and Research 33
6 Where Do I Find a Jewish Indian? or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Research 41
7 Background, Location, and Setting 48
Pt. II The Process
8 Characterization 57
9 Rounding Up Your Characters 65
10 Writing a Series Character 72
11 The Amateur Sleuth 79
12 Vivid Villains 86
13 In Search of a Novel 91
14 Building Without Blueprints 98
15 Outlining 105
16 Perspectives on Point of View 112
17 Dress for Success: Developing Your Personal Style 121
18 How to Write Convincing Dialogue 129
19 Pacing and Suspense 139
20 Depiction of Violence 148
21 Clues, Red Herrings, and Other Plot Devices 160
22 The Book Stops Here 166
23 In the Beginning Is the End 173
24 Revision 180
25 How to Find and Work With an Agent 190
26 Dial M for Market 197
27 The Mystery Novel From an Editor's Point of View 205
Pt. III Specialties
28 Writing Mysteries for Young Readers 217
29 The Joys and Challenges of the Short Story 224
30 The Medical Thriller 233
31 Legal Thrillers 240
32 Historical Mysteries: The Past Is a Foreign Country 246
33 From the Cradle to the Pen: The Evolution of a True Crime Writer 253
34 E-Media - Crime Fiction E-Volves 262
35 The Best of the Genre and a Reference List of Books on Writing and Technical Information 271
About the Contributors 293
Index 305
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 10 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2007

    Who's Done it of Whodunnits

    Lots of good technical and motivational advice on all aspects of writing a mystery from the 'Who's done it' of 'Whodunnits.' You can dip in and out of this book as each chapter is by a different mystery writer and stands alone. The book also contains a good resource --listings of reference books on writing and technical information recommended by these published authors. Also their picks for best in genre. Worthwhile.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 1, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    If you are just getting started writing mysteries, this book is a great start. I read it in one sitting and filled the pages with highlighting and post it notes. I feel that I have a more realistic idea of what it takes to write a mystery that can get published. The chapters are written by published authors that use funny and witty voices.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2013

    Thoughtful and useful advice

    I leave this book lying around and pick it up whenever I see it. Each time I get a new perspective on the craft. I have found it useful. And fun.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2012

    Love your books. When is the next book comming out that will start with W.

    When will the book starting with will be out.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2012

    Great read

    Great read with lots of useful tips.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)