Not all of us write mysteries, cozy or “not-so-cozy.” Still, whenever we write, a great way to keep our readers interested is to keep some things hidden. If the reader knows and/or can predict the ending of your story (or even your non-fiction piece) they might feel robbed.
Now, I’m not saying folks don’t read a good book over and over. But if you want to grab them at the get-go, mystery will keep them turning the pages, or reading on to the next sentence. And isn’t that what we want? A book without surprises can be, in a word, boring.
Will Berta find happiness? How is the devotional writer going to connect the bug crawling along the sidewalk to a life lesson? Will Jenna really move to Timbuktu to live with her true love? Was it Ms. White in the billiard room with the knife? Keeping the reader guessing will keep him or her reading.
Today would have been the 121st birthday of Agatha Christie, one of the most well-known mystery writers: “the queen of crime” and winner of multiple awards for her novels, short stories, and plays. Most of us have read or seen at least one of her stories. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, she’s the best-selling novelist of all time. And she knew how to write a mystery.
Do you? Be sure to leave your readers guessing, no matter what you write. Otherwise, they may not turn the page.
What are some ways you keep the reader guessing in your writing?