When I asked the question so what is a mystery anyway, I got some interesting responses. Most people agree that the traditional who-done-it’s are mysteries. Whenever there’s a dead body early in the book, you have a mystery to find out who the dead person is and how that person ended up dead.
I did get some interesting comments about the nature of a mystery. Most agree that good books carry some kind of mystery to keep the reader reading. But, when does that mystery put the book in the mystery genre? Apparently, readers are divided on this question.
I found a very good blog on this subject where the blogger categorized Mystery, Thriller and Suspense. Maeve Maddox tried to make the gray areas not so gray. You can read it for yourself and see if you agree with her category distinction. http://www.dailywritingtips.com/is-your-novel-mystery-thriller-or-suspense/
Given all this, you might ask yourself what difference does this make? Here’s the rub–agents, publishers and the like want to know what you’ve written. In the past this distinction had to be very clear because book stores needed to know on which self to place your book. Nowadays, however, that distinction is not so important because we have “virtual” shelves. Nonetheless, the clearer you are with determining your genre, the better your chances for getting your unpublished work published.
But, how much does this genre making and genre forcing stifle a writer’s creativity? If you have to write in a certain way to fit a certain genre, you cannot let your creative juices flow. Many of our most talented writers do not neatly fit the strict categories. The genre groups evolved in the first place because a new writer created a new genre. New genre are cropping up all the time, like science fiction mystery or fantasy thriller.
As a writer, how much do you write toward the genre or do you write and then see how your work fits? I tend to fit in the latter path.
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