The structure of the mystery novel might borrow from the structure of an ordinary novel, but it is integral to realize that there are succinct differences that define each kind of novel. To write a successful mystery novel, it is imperative that the potential author describes the story and the kind of structure that he or she intends to use. The structure may not have to be told overtly to the readers, but at least the author should have the structure as a guide during the writing process. Developing a good mystery requires accuracy in planning and execution.
Approaches to structure
These are the two approaches that are mostly used in mystery writing; the narrative approach and the Four-story structure. The narrative structure is focused on the development of both the story and the plot. The way the story is told and the natural flow of events in line with their connection and relatedness should be considered very importantly as this has a direct bearing on the message.
In a classic narrative structure, all the characters in the novel are introduced while their character traits are explored. The background presentation of the characters would include issues of setting as well. At this level, an inherent problem is also introduced, and this works to create the feeling of suspense in the reader as he or she starts wondering what will happen to the characters now that a problem has been found to exist in the given setting. The problem that is established in the setup is the propellant for the story line, and it ushers the readers into the second act.
The second Act
The second act in mystery novels usually bears the conflict, and the problem that is established in act one becomes a big challenge for the characters, and the action gets rolling. There are serious changes that the characters go through in their lives, these changes are based on the individual traits of every character. The author at this point should be taking the readers through the developments of the characters. The final act is the resolution part where the story hits its climax. The characters face their challenge, and there is intensity in the story as it boils over.
Mystery books are mostly dependent on this type of plot development, and there are various types of mystery narrative structures for instance linear narratives which have the flow of the story in chronological order, interactive stories call upon the readers to influence the narrative based on their understanding. This is also mysteries that have alternative conclusions. Non-linear narratives have a broken structure and events do not always have a particular structure.
A good mystery novel should help the reader in getting the story line including the conclusion of the story, and the narrative structure has often been used by most authors although some have sometimes opted for the other structure that we will discuss later. It is important to recognize that flashbacks also fall under the linear narrative structure as flashback always takes the reader back to the beginning of the story.