Key Ingredients for Writing Murder-Mystery-Suspense: INVITATION TO DEATH

 In Books, Writing

Are you interested in writing a murder-mystery filled with suspense, twists and turns?

Utilizing my novel, Invitation to Death, here are some writing tips to help improve your writing.


Think about where you want your novel set. Perhaps some place beautiful? Unusual?

Here’s what I did for Invitation for Death:

Take one of the most beautiful places in the world: Kona, Hawaii.

A place that’s supposed to be for relaxation, walks along the beach, snorkeling, gorgeous landscapes, love.

The perfect place for a vacation, right? Over 600,000 people visit Kona a year.

Photos from TripAdvisor

Definitely popular!

One condo. (Two murders take place there along with other trouble.)


For Invitation to Death: Three couples. A detective.

  1. Know your characters’ personalities.
  2. Make them complex and interesting, not one dimensional. Show different sides of their personalities.
  3. Put them through unimaginable scenarios. Trauma and drama!


In my novel, Invitation to Death, three couples bring their problems to the table as a part of the plot.

  1. A troubled marriage, thanks to a husband who can’t keep his hands off of a younger colleague.
  2. Terrible news a wife is keeping from her husband of thirty-six years.
  3. Marital issues brought on by different pursuits, depression, and an infatuation with another woman.

Things to keep in mind:

  1. What do these characters want? What are they looking for?
  2. What are the obstacles to getting what they want?
  3. How do they break free from those obstacles? Do they?
  4. Dialogue – use it to reveal the conflict
  5. Body language – use it to show conflict and emotion


  1. Bring action to the conflict – show arguments, tension, romance
  2. Murder!
  3. Make it fast-paced, exciting, and unpredictable.


  1. Who is responsible for the deaths of two people in the same location?
  2. Bring in unexpected twists and turns. It’s critical to imagine the obvious and the not so obvious. How can you create tension that leads to various conclusions?


  1. The story must unfold.
  2. Clues need to be revealed.
  3. Connections built block by block.


  1. Who is the murderer?
  2. Motivations must be revealed.


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