I am writing a novel, working title The Home Signal. I have planned it out pretty comprehensively (I think!).
It is useful to read and use ‘Nail your novel’ by Roz Morris.
I also use Scrivener, which is brilliant for structure.
More about all that in later posts.

For research, I have started to read up on crime fiction and more about its history and the techniques for its construction.

I recommend an excellent book called ‘Crime Fiction’ by John Scaggs. It is a comprehensive reference of the history of mystery and detective fiction.

There is a chapter about mystery and detective fiction where I have come across Father Knox’s ‘Detective Story Decalogue’ from 1929. Now, for all you experts out there, I’m sure this is old news but it was a very interesting revelation to me and I plan to read more about it soon.

Here are some excerpts of the decalogue:

  1. The criminal must be someone mentioned in the early part of the story.
(Done. I have mine appearing in the first scene.)
  2. All supernatural or preternatural agencies are ruled out as a matter of course.
  3. Not more than one secret room or passageway is allowable.
(Done. I only have one and it doesn’t really form part of the crime anyway.)
  4. The detective must not himself commit a crime.
(Hmm..well, not sure on this one. (It’s a herself in my case). She is a bit outside the law at times.)
  5. The detective must not light on any clues which are not instantly produced for the inspection of the reader.
(Done. I hadn’t thought too much about this point but it is a good one.)
  6. The ‘stupid’ friend of the detective(The Doctor Watson type character) must not conceal any thoughts which pass through his mind.
(Need some rewrite to fit with this. Interesting rule for sure – you can’t have two equal detectives working on a case – maybe that’s true I suppose. I need to think about this one some more.)
  7. Twin brothers, and doubles generally, must not appear unless we have been duly prepared for them.
(Done – the only doubles I have are drinks!)

There are some more – 10 make a decalogue – but I found these interesting and, though a bit dated, a worthwhile check for any kind of crime or detective fiction.

Have you come across this?

Or, can you recommend any good sources for the specific techniques around crime or mystery thriller fiction?