Recipe for Murder

Kate Flora: As some of you know, I’ve been away for two weeks at a writing retreat. It IMG_9473was an incredible adventure at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, where for two weeks, I was surrounded by writers, artists, and composers. I diligently applied my seat to the seat, and ended up writing 60,00 words in a new Joe Burgess mystery, plus a short story. I loved having someone to make the meals, and not having someone ask, around 10:30 p.m., if I was ever coming to bed. I kind of missed cooking, though.

As I ease back into ordinary life, I was thinking about cooking up a mystery. I always claim my process is neither pantser nor plotter, but cooker. I carry the plot around in my head for months, wondering the who and why about my characters, until I’m ready to write.

So here, with tongue in cheek, is a recipe for writing your mystery.

Cookbook: Use the recipe in either Hallie Ephron’s Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel or (if you can find it) William Tapply’s Elements of Mystery Fiction.

In a large brain, stir together:

1 or 2 protagonists/sleuths

3 ripe suspects

1 bad guy/gal

1 body

3-6 witnesses, depending on your taste

1 or more police officers

2 subjects who offer local color

Stir them about, then add:

1-2 crime scenes

1 weapon

a generous handful of clues

2-3 red herrings

If it seems too bland, add color with a great location or spice it up with a little discreet sex

Bake (or type) until done.

Cooks who have trouble following the recipe might try reading Elizabeth Lyon’s Manuscript Makeover or Chris Roerden’s Don’t Murder Your Mystery for advice about

And if you love mysteries–reading or writing, join the Maine mystery writing community at the Crime Wave June 1 & 2 in Portland.


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6 Responses to Recipe for Murder

  1. Lea Wait says:

    Love that recipe, Kate! And, of course, am insanely jealous about your two weeks in Virginia — and your resulting productivity!!!! See you at Crime Wave!

  2. Kaye George says:

    Looks like a winner. Very cute!

  3. mowalsh says:

    Blood? “Accent with Dialogue?” “Sprinkle Clues?”
    And chocolate, because…well, chocolate.

  4. bethc2015 says:

    Love the photograph of the rainbow. Sounds like a fun an productive week.

  5. Glad you enjoyed it, Kate, and were so productive. I’ve been at the Vermont Studio Center twice and each time came away with tons of writing done and my creativity stimulated. It’s a great way to jumpstart or finish a project.

  6. Sandra Neily says:

    That was FUN….and a good reminder of essential elements. Have tried to turn Moosehead camp into a writing retreat but things that need fix’in always staring at me. So congrats on having two weeks without …..that. Thanks for revision suggestions.

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