Top tips on writing mysteries from Laura Wood

Author and academic Laura Wood came to the Barnes Children's Literature Festival to talk about the third book in her ‘Poppy Pym’ mystery series. Sian Kissock went to pick up some tips.

Poppy was abandoned as a baby at a travelling circus, and in term-time she attends a boarding school. The series is about her rather unconventional life with her new family of circus performers.

Laura told the audience about what she thinks brings a story together, particularly stressing the importance of a setting. “Thinking about a place is a really good way to start a story,” she said, adding that it’s rather easy to develop it from there.

Here are some of Laura’s tips for writing engrossing mysteries.

You can set a story literally anywhere you can think of! A setting can soon develop into a lot more and help you think of the next points too.

Who is telling the story?
Think about who the person is trying to solve the mystery? Is it a detective or someone just like you? It can be anyone or anything.

What is the mystery?
Has something or somebody gone missing? Think of how everything so far links together, in particular who it is telling the story in relation to the missing object. It has to be something a lot of people will want to find and get their hands on, as that is how a large pool of suspects are brought into the story!

Who are the suspects?
Having suspects in a mystery adds apprehension and can further involve the reader. Who are the people who would want to get their hands on the missing objects and why?

Who did it?
Tying it all up at the end, we need to know who the guilty suspect actually was!


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