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The Essence of a Good Mystery

Updated on April 7, 2020
Jacqueline4390 profile image

Ms. Williamson is a published author and educator with a Bachelor of Business, Master of Public Administration, and Master of Science!

It was nearing the bewitching hour …
It was nearing the bewitching hour …

What Makes A Mystery Intriguing ...

When deciding to create an effective mystery novel, there are many different genres. I will discuss the development of two themes: paranormal activity and mind manipulation.

Most people are familiar with the concept of paranormal activity and many find it fascinating because it addresses unexplained occurrences. A layman’s definition of paranormal activity is any instances of events happening which cannot be logically or scientifically explained. This can include anything as simple as putting an object in one place and finding it in another. Or it can be as dynamic as hearing voices in a room when you know that you are the only one present.

While doing research on mind manipulation, I have discovered that there has been quite a bit of exposure given to this subject in recent years. What is mind manipulation? Mind manipulation is the deliberate act of influencing a person for the purpose of modifying his or her behavior. This can be a very subtle but effective technique when used by advertising agencies to entice the consumers into purchasing their client’s merchandise. It can also be used to change an audience's opinion of a rival's item by exposing the negative consequences of their product.

One such method of altering the minds of the public integrates facts followed by suggestions. Here is one example: “Three out of five people will experience an accident. You don’t want to take the risk of being one of the three without insurance coverage. You need to try our product.” This introduces a statistical probability along with an appealing alternative. The person believes the information provided and accepts the recommended course of action as a beneficial one.

However manipulation can take on stronger implications. Here is a second example of how it can be done on a more potent scale: “You can’t possibly be thinking straight to do this. That is just not you. This is what you really want to do, now isn’t it?” The individual’s thoughts are being cunningly manipulated through the desire of wanting to “fit in” or conform to accepted norms of behavior.

The procedure is reinforced with more aggressive suggestions regarding behavior modification until the subject’s reactions are totally controlled. People who have low self-esteem or gullible are considered prime targets for mind manipulation. You will find this method more prevalent with those who have been abused at an early age and feel that they rightly deserve the treatment rendered at the hands of a strong-welled individual. The reality is that both people involved have some deep-seated flaw in their personality.


A large metropolis makes an interesting backdrop for a supernatural saga!
A large metropolis makes an interesting backdrop for a supernatural saga!

Final Words ...

Once you possess a rudimentary understanding of both paranormal activity and mind manipulation; it is relatively easy to use one of them in creating a successful mystery novel.

Here are some steps that you should consider in developing your story.

  1. Choose your antagonist wisely. This will instill a sense of credibility to your story. The character could be a domineering mother, sibling or spouse. The individual should be someone who spends life feeling rejected or cheated. It should be someone that the reader can identify readily as well as dislike completely.
  2. Choose a protagonist who is very likable but has a distinct disadvantage. He or she should have a dependency relationship either emotional or financial. It is even desirable to have several people who share common bonds with the antagonist.
  3. There must be a situation that requires intervention of a third party. For instance the sudden death or disappearance of the antagonist causes disruption in the normal flow of events. An example: the disliked character dies suddenly of seemingly natural causes; which after further analyzes proves to be murder.
  4. Insure that events unfold in a chronological order. Prior to death or disappearance of the antagonist, there should be altercations between the antagonist and various characters in the novel. One method, the Flash Back (which is my favorite) leads the reader down a path of understanding. It attempts to bridge relationships between the antagonist and his victim(s).
  5. Conclude your novel with the exposure of the guilty party or parties. If you have ever read Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie, you discovered that several people were involved in the murder. Stride for the right blend of involvement among the characters and with the antagonist. This will create an interesting novel. You can incorporate either the paranormal or mind control but don’t use both. The Spirit of a Protector and the revenge of a frustrated victim are both good themes.

Experiment with ideas and work with the one that gives you the best results. Whether you choose the paranormal, mind manipulation or some other interesting method to developing your novel; have fun in the process. If you enjoy writing it—others will enjoy reading it as well.

Paranormal Occurrence

What you ever experience a Paranormal Encounter?

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© 2013 Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS

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    • Jacqueline4390 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS 

      6 years ago from Memphis

      Haha, I have found it to be so in my personal experiences. I've learned that life has so many turns and bends that the "road map" is constantly bring revised :-)

    • profile image

      Kathy Carr 

      6 years ago

      I like that. Truth is stranger than fiction.

    • Jacqueline4390 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS 

      6 years ago from Memphis

      Thank you, Kathy. So glad you enjoyed. Writing is truly my passion. I try to do as much research as possible before I begin. Truth is stranger than fiction :-)

    • Kathy Carr profile image

      Kathy Carr 

      6 years ago from Chicago, Illinois

      I really like this. It makes for a great read. I was thirsty for more. So truthful was this information about the mind and strange happen stances.

    • Jacqueline4390 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS 

      6 years ago from Memphis

      Sometimes developing the right antagonist can be harder than creating your protagonist.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 

      6 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      This was helpful. I appreciate your sharing this. It makes the antag. character easier to develop!

    • Jacqueline4390 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS 

      6 years ago from Memphis

      Yes, and I am still smiling. Writing is my passion and I am so humbled by this experience and elated!

    • merej99 profile image

      Meredith Loughran 

      6 years ago from Florida

      Was that a new accolade I saw on your home page? CONGRATULATIONS! :)

    • Jacqueline4390 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS 

      6 years ago from Memphis

      I am still in shock! Many thanks to all the beautiful people in the HP Community! I will now have Ketchup with the words I previously wrote!

    • Jacqueline4390 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS 

      6 years ago from Memphis

      So very true! I have attained many in my day :-) I just don't expect to achieve any HERE! I just enjoy being able to share. I made myself a promise for 2014 ... don't expect green grass in the desert! By the way, so glad about the demise of your Writer's Block. I am thinking of devoting more time to my novels and less ... less ... less ... time here; maybe once a month or less.

    • merej99 profile image

      Meredith Loughran 

      6 years ago from Florida

      Being recognized is so important for the ego. If we expect it we are often disappointed, but getting accolades when you least expect it? It's like Christmas every day. :) Glad I could help... AND I think you just helped me with my next hub! Writer's block is over. YAY!

    • Jacqueline4390 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS 

      6 years ago from Memphis

      Thank you ever so much for your critique. And I truly appreciate your comments but I really don't expect to win. I write purely for the love of writing and my desire to help and inform people. I never, ever expect ANY type of recognition!

    • merej99 profile image

      Meredith Loughran 

      6 years ago from Florida

      Hi Jacqueline4390! I saw your article featured as a Rising Star Candidate. Best wishes.

      Just one little critique: on Exerts from An Aberrant Influence ...

      I think you meant Excerpts. :)

    • Jacqueline4390 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS 

      6 years ago from Memphis

      A lot of parents, especially mothers, practice "mind-games" on their children. This happens a lot when the mother is older and alone and the adult child wants to enjoy a life "apart from the parent." Males are especially targeted!

    • Jacqueline4390 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS 

      7 years ago from Memphis

      Mind Manipulation is a very subtle way of getting the target person to change his/her way of thinking.

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