Write a Successful Mystery

Online Creative Writing Course: Mystery Writing

There's a reason why there are always mysteries on the bestseller list.

Mystery stories fascinate readers, appealing to their sense of curiosity. In this 8-week course, you'll learn how to write a mystery that readers will love. You'll...

  • go step-by-step through the process of planning a mystery

  • develop a cast of characters and lay down a trail of clues

  • learn strategies to make your mystery stand out.

Since the course is taught by e-mail, you can learn from anywhere, studying when you have time in your schedule.

WHAT YOU'LL LEARN



  • Week 1: Introduction to Mystery Writing
    Make essential decisions about the kind of mystery you want to write. Generate ideas for your mystery.

  • Week 2: Background Stories
    Make mystery writing much easier by developing background stories ahead of time. Learn how to use red herrings and create false trails.

  • Week 3: Investigation
    Plan the investigation that will form the spine of your story. Lay a trail of clues. Learn how this information trail can create its own momentum to carry your story forward.

  • Week 4: Rules of the Game
    Discover some “rules of the game” that will make your mystery more satisfying. Choose the right narrative viewpoint for your mystery. Learn how to maintain your readers' trust.

  • Week 5: Puzzle Pieces
    Prepare the puzzle pieces that will fit together into a solution to your mystery. Learn about special ways to use dialogue in mystery stories. Prepare a timeline to organize clues and alibis.

  • Week 6: Structure and Movement
    Learn how to structure a mystery plot from beginning to end. Find out how to write scenes, how to use cliffhangers, and how to control the pacing of your mystery.

  • Week 7: Sleuths, Sidekicks, Villains, and Victims
    Round out your sleuth, build your cast of characters, and learn how to use subplots in a mystery novel.

  • Week 8: Setting and Color
    Add interest to your mystery through your setting and subject matter. Learn how to do research. Discover a step-by-step strategy for writing your mystery manuscript.


Your teacher
Mystery Writing is taught by Nancy Strauss, the Online Courses Director at Creative Writing Now. Nancy has an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan, where she has also taught creative and expository writing.

What you get in the course

Mystery Writing includes:

  • eight e-mail lessons (one lesson a week for eight weeks. The first lesson will normally be sent to you within an hour after you confirm your course registration.)
  • weekly exercises included in the lessons, including a Mystery Planning Worksheet that you can use to develop your stories or novels.
  • the chance to e-mail any questions about the lessons to a writing teacher.*
  • the chance to publish your writing on the class blog.

*Note: Please note that feedback on your writing assignments is not included in this course, which has been designed for self-study. While teachers will be available to answer general questions, they will not be able to read or comment on your Mystery Planning Worksheet or your fiction.

We guarantee the value of this course. If you change your mind any time during the first 20 days, you can ask for a refund.


Feedback on our Courses



"One of my stories, "Bubble", has been published. If I hadn't taken your course I couldn't even imagine that. Many, many thanks for inspiring me."
     - Rasheed

"I have to say that this course has been really inspiring and it's given my writing a new lease on life."
     - Robin Gott

"I saw that my writing had improved 100%."
     - Jill Gairdner

"The writing exercises are intriguing and practically beg you to get started. The lessons themselves are concise and straight-forward, easy to understand and to apply to your own writing.”
     - Sally Derby

"Wow! I loved this first lesson. I loved every minute of writing writing writing. I really look forward to my 2nd lesson."
     - Sarah

“Loving the course.”
     - Wendy

"A great, fun, practical way to get the creative juices flowing and call forth the writer's muse."
     - Man Martin

"I find Lesson 4 very interesting, so much so that all the distractions facing me at the moment of writing were not able to actually distract me."
     - Linda

"Innovative and stimulating."
     - Charles Hartik

“Thanks for this lesson. I used it for one of the characters in my newest WIP and I got a very interesting scene out of it!”
     - Carolyn

“Thanks for this awesome learning opportunity.”
     - Claire

“It's absolutely perfect! I want more!”
     - Amanda

Sign up now


Mystery Writing - Includes 8 e-mail lessons, weekly assignments, the chance to publish on the course blog, and the chance to ask a teacher general questions. Feedback on assignments is currently not available for this course.
Total price - $26.95



Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some answers to questions you may have about the course:

Q: How/when will I get my lessons?

A: Your answers will be sent to you by e-mail, once a week for eight weeks. Here's how it works: when you purchase the course, you will be asked for an e-mail address. After your purchase is complete, you will normally receive the first lesson within one hour.

Q: How much time will I need to complete the assignments?

A: The lessons are specially designed so that you can read and absorb them quickly. And the writing assignments can also be completed fast. But as with most things, what you get out of this course depends on what you put into it. So we suggest making time to revise your weekly assignments and do some additional writing. Ideally, try to schedule a regular time for your writing at least five days a week -- even if it is only ten minutes per day.

Q: Will I have to buy any books or additional materials?

A: There are no additional materials required for the course. The online format will also save you money versus an offline course, where you would have logistical expenses such as transportation, parking, childcare, and so on.

Q: Is the course just for fiction writing, or will it help me write essays, articles, poetry, etc.?

A: The course is focused on fiction writing (short stories or novels). If you are mainly interested in writing essays, articles, poetry, or another genre, this course may not be right for you.

Q: What if I don't understand something in one of the lessons?

A: No worries. You can e-mail us, and a teacher will answer your questions about the course.

Q: How do I get feedback on my writing assignments?

A: We currently do not offer a teacher feedback option for this course. However, you will have the chance to publish your fiction on the course blog, where other students might leave comments.

Q: How soon do I have to decide?

A: If you're really interested in taking this course, it is safer to sign up now while it's still open.

Q: What if I change my mind after I purchase the course?

A: No problem! If you change your mind, just ask us for a refund. You can send us an e-mail any time during the first 20 days, and just tell us you've changed your mind, then we'll refund 100% of your payment. No hassle; no hard feelings. So you actually have nothing to lose by signing up for the course now.

Q: What if my question was not answered here?

A: Please just send us an e-mail, and we'll be delighted to answer all your questions.



Sign up now


Mystery Writing - Includes 8 e-mail lessons, weekly assignments, the chance to publish on the course blog, and the chance to ask a teacher general questions. Feedback on assignments is currently not available for this course.
Total price - $26.95



P.S. Still not sure? Give the course a try and see what you think. You have 20 days to decide if it's for you or ask for a refund.


Questions? Please contact us

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