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How to Write a Mystery Paperback – July 9, 1996


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Frequently Bought Together

How to Write a Mystery + How to Write a Damn Good Mystery: A Practical Step-by-Step Guide from Inspiration to Finished Manuscript + Writing Mysteries
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1 edition (July 9, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345397584
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345397584
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #783,656 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

In this entertaining and instructive guide to writing mysteries, Edgar Award-winning mystery writer Beinhart (No One Rides for Free, Avon, 1987) covers such subjects as narrative drive, plotting, openings, character development, and a host of other writerly techniques. He includes many examples from his favorite mystery writers, among them Le Carre, Higgins, Fleming, and Beinhart's wife, Gillian Farrell. The style is chatty and breezy and the content informative. This is not really a step-by-step manual but a book that writers and would-be writers might turn to for advice and a thoughtful discussion of a particular problem area. Recommended for public libraries and academic libraries supporting writing programs.?Denise Johnson, Bradley Univ. Lib., Peoria, Ill.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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Beinhart's book is the most informative tome you're likely to find.
Amazon Customer
This book is written to help the novice mystery fiction writer or someone who is trying to improve his or her mastery of the genre.
British Mystery Buff
This is by far the best book I have ever read on the subject of How To..
Jason KLSXFan@aol.com

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By pbscott@fcs.uga.edu on May 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
Simply put, Beinhart's book is one of the best "How to Write..." books I have ever read. Unlike many books in which the author mostly inspires the reader and/or shares what has worked for him or her, Beinhart gives multiple examples from contemporary and classic works, as well as from his own experiences. I knew that this book had fire in it when I found myself outlining my plot, characters, etc. as I read along. I was also pleased with the Beinhart's honesty about the business and politics of the publishing industry. This book deserves a space on the shelf of every mystery writer--published and unpublished.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 18, 2003
Format: Paperback
The things I love about this book are that it's clever, formally interesting, and fun to read, and that it is irreverent. It doesn't tell you to scrutinize the market and write only the sort of book that is viable and popular. It identifies the structures and details that make for pleasurable reading, and it encourages you to be innovative and unique. It sets you in the direction of thinking about the specific choices you've made for your book and how you can make them more compelling. However, this book should be called How to Write a Crime Novel, since the author is not concerned with traditional cozy mysteries--a huge portion of the mystery market, I would imagine--and admits that he doesn't understand their appeal. I would guess that if you are interested in hard-boiled crime fiction, you could get a whole education about its best and brightest here, since Beinhart's examples and analysis mine hard-boiled fiction for some amazing and entertaining material. He also offers many lists of exemplary hard-boiled writers and books. But the things the author says about cozies (and quotes others as saying about them) are unjustifiably paltry and cliched. As someone who is trying to write a cozy mystery series, I found this book extremely helpful, but not ideal.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jason KLSXFan@aol.com on June 16, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is by far the best book I have ever read on the subject of How To.. Mystery Novels. It is easy to understand, with perfect organization. It is a must have for all writers trying to figure out how to correctly write a murder mystery. Larry has proven himself a great author from all of his books. I highly recommend buying this book.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Anthony on February 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is a great book for both the beginner and the experience writer. It walks you through the process without holding your hand. Outlining the process from start to finish it can help the self-taught refresh their memories and to double check themsleves while providing a start to finish map for the new author to follow. Even for those who don't need the information contained within its covers, this is a good read that makes you think about the subject.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 10, 1997
Format: Paperback
This book tells what you WANT to know,how it is done,how to get past the difficulties and finsh the bugger,by a well known, published,damn good writer,not some critic who has'nt written a crime novel or someone who made up a list of what to do from other books.This is the Real Deal!
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By John Ballard on September 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
... Even though this book is specifically for writing mysteries,
it is by far the best of all the writing books I have.
Besides being a great writer, which makes this book a quick and enjoyable read, Larry gives practicle advice, inspiration, examples, and walks you through each step of writing a mystery.
I've put aside all other writing books and I'm reading this one for the second time.
It is well worth the money.
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13 of 19 people found the following review helpful By J. Koski on January 1, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book falls into the big category: Too general and vague to be any good for a mystery writer.

Sure, it holds some information about good writing, but for that purpose there are tons of better books. As for mystery, this book does not give you any good plotting instructions, any good storytelling etc.

Buy another book or save your money.
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Format: Paperback
It was okay but I wanted more specific information, not his views on other crime fiction. The style was loose and chatty and it seemed to me this was an okay book tossed off for the rawest beginner, but unsatisfying, not that I know everything there is to know about mystery writing. I did learn some things, however.
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