The Elements of Mystery Fiction: Writing the Modern Whodunit and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more

The Elements of Mystery Fiction 2nd Edition

16 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1590581155
ISBN-10: 1590581156
Why is ISBN important?
ISBN
This bar-code number lets you verify that you're getting exactly the right version or edition of a book. The 13-digit and 10-digit formats both work.
Scan an ISBN with your phone
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Buy used
$4.30
Buy new
$13.16
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Paperback, October 2, 2006
"Please retry"
$13.16
$7.99 $4.30
More Buying Choices
18 New from $7.99 20 Used from $4.30 1 Collectible from $12.95
Free Two-Day Shipping for College Students with Amazon Student Free%20Two-Day%20Shipping%20for%20College%20Students%20with%20Amazon%20Student


InterDesign Brand Store Awareness Rent Textbooks
$13.16 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. In Stock. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

The Elements of Mystery Fiction + How to Write a Damn Good Mystery: A Practical Step-by-Step Guide from Inspiration to Finished Manuscript
Price for both: $34.70

Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews

Review

Tapply is an author's author, a writer whose work is a beacon for critics in search of excellence and
authors in search of guidance.
--Globebooks.com

About the Author

William G. Tapply is the author of more than twenty mystery novels, including the popular Brady Coyne series and nearly a dozen highly praised books on hunting and fishing. He is a professor of English at Clark University and lives in Hanover, New Hampshire.
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE


Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 187 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press; 2 edition (May 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590581156
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590581155
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #292,940 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Kirk McElhearn VINE VOICE on December 5, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Of all the books on writing mysteries - and there are many - this is one of the only written by a real master of the craft (with the exception, perhaps, of Patricia Highsmith's book). Tapply neither talks down to the reader nor does he go over the reader's head. This nuts-and-bolts book looks at the main issues involved in writing mysteries clearly and concisely.

Covering the usual areas - character, plot, point of view, setting, etc. - Tapply gives an honest, frank appraisal of what works for him and others. While it is possible that having read other books on writing in general and mysteries in particular made me more receptive to this book, Tapply's tone is friendly and reassuring. This may be the best book on the subject.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Format: Paperback
William G. Tapply has great credentials for explaining about how to write mystery fiction: His series of Brady Coyne mysteries have been providing much reading pleasure to mystery fans for decades. He's also collaborated on novels with Linda Barlow and Philip R. Craig. The fishing happy aspect of Brady Coyne's fictional life reflects Mr. Tapply's personal love for and great knowledge of fishing (and he's also written widely on the subject in non-fiction form).

When I'm reading a mystery, I often feel that something is missing. The Elements of Mystery Fiction showed me how to analyze a mystery to see what its strengths and weaknesses are. I'm sure my mystery reviews will be much better as a result.

As a non-fiction writer, I've never been able to figure out a writing process that would work with mysteries. Novels are much easier. You can just start from an intriguing premise, put the hero or heroine in a tricky spot, and let the book write itself . . . as Stephen King suggests.

Mr. Tapply thoughtfully describes the process he uses for writing mysteries. It's a bear! But I can see why it works. You cannot leave anything to chance.

Having seen the large challenges and bulky process involved, I can also see why many novelists prefer to write suspense books rather than mysteries. Those are much easier to write!

This new edition adds several new chapters that are written or contributed to through interview by other mystery authors and experts exploring:

Writing the Mystery Series -- Philip R. Craig
Standalone or Series Mystery?
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Esther Schindler TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 1, 2010
Format: Paperback
I've been a professional writer for many years, but all non-fiction. I don't have a novel in me. On the other hand, I've certainly read (and reviewed!) hundreds of mystery novels, and have long been devoted to the creative spirit behind them.

I recently gave one book in a mystery series a disappointing ("it lost me") review, and wondered about what the author had done wrong. Serendipitously, I found this copy of The Elements of Mystery Fiction in my To Read pile. I had totally forgotten that it was given to me as a gift, a few years ago, by the book's publisher. (In the spirit of full disclosure: he is a longtime personal friend, and his wife, Barbara Peters, wrote one chapter in the book. That wouldn't keep me from giving this a poor review if I thought the book's advice was lackluster, but you should be aware of my background here.)

I've read a lot of writing books, both instructional and "get your head screwed on straight" (Bird by Bird is my favorite in the latter category). Many of the "how to write" books go over the same tired rules, and half the how-to is interchangeable with any generic "fiction writing" advice. Tapply doesn't fall into any of these traps. Suggestions like "Show, don't tell" are given in the context of writing mysteries. For instance, he writes, "Give your readers the same kind of sensory impressions they use in their own lives to interpret their world. When you explain or elaborate for your readers, you deprive them of the opportunity to participate." And with mysteries, he emphasizes, the reader wants to participate (along with the protagonist) in solving the crime.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ben Wheeler on June 14, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This type of book is usually a bit of a disappointment, but my wife (budding writer) and I (eternal critic) liked it more than we expected. There isn't much on plotting, which was disappointing, but there is tons of commentary on who the main character can be and why they are on their quest of investigation. There's a late chapter by Philip Craig on his experience writing his Martha's Vineyard mysteries that is not exactly instructive, but utterly fascinating.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Hendrickson on November 3, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have read so many books on writing a mystery that I've lost track of them all. However, I have to say this book by William Tapply is the best, hands down. This is a true nuts-and-bolts approach to the craft. I highlighted so many portions on my Kindle that the book is bleeding yellow! One thing that really hit home with me (and I'm a non-fiction writer who dreams of writing a mystery) was the advice to "first write the story of the murder itself". Just reading those few words got a lot of plot confusion clear within my head. I finally realized that if I understood the relationship between victim and murderer I'd be a lot further down the line in plotting the story. A wonderful read, can't say enough good stuff about it.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more
The Elements of Mystery Fiction
This item: The Elements of Mystery Fiction
Price: $13.16
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?