How to Make a Mystery Believable

I believe good fiction must be based on facts. What you confront your readers with needs to be believable. That doesn’t mean you have to kill somebody to describe the emotions and actions of a murderer – no matter how appealing the thought might be. “Your honor, I was only researching for my next novel titled “I hate my annoying best friend.” Not a good defence strategy, and not good for a writer’s soul either.

But the elements needed to solve a mystery have to be solid. Let me give you an example. In my latest thriller/mystery “What Happened to Rose” my protagonist had to dig deep into the past to discover background facts about a fatal accident.

Abholschein FotoI was mulling over this problem for some time when I suddenly remembered a story my brother Anton told me. Some years ago he sorted through documents left by our deceased mother and found an old pick up notice from a photographic studio that no longer existed in our home town. Being naturally curious, and a sucker for mysteries, just like me, he went to the city archives and got permission to dig there.

Kreszenz+Anton_VetterleGuess what treasure he found: negatives of a series of wedding pictures of our parents. Copies of those pictures are now treasured by our family – and most of all by me, because it gave me the idea of how my protagonist discovered what she needed to find.A big thanks to my brother. For finding those pictures, and for giving me a tool to solve the mystery of what happened to Rose. I love to research my stories, and I can honestly say, the most amazing twists and turns I come up with on behalf of my protagonists are ALL based on facts.