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Detective Story: Elements of Success

Magnifying Glass

Have you ever been fascinated with the books of Agatha Christie or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? They probably made you wonder what the key elements of a strong detective story are. Whether you are composing for yourself or for a creative writing paper that will be graded, you need to recognize what exactly constitutes a thrilling detective and how to bind those key elements into the next literary success.


Be sure to keep the suspense live and well in the whole story, just like you would with the firewood at a camp. No matter the nature of the crime, the particulars of it should not be put on the spotlight at once. You should rather envelope the whole story in a thick air of mystery that will attract readers. Not a single character should forget that a severe crime took place, so it is your job to throw some wood in the fire every now and then. With each throw, your reader will feel more scared, excited and curious than ever before.


Even though a no spoilers rule is necessary to keep the previously mentioned suspense thriving, there is no harm in leaving a few hints, just for the same purpose. The cleverest of your admirers will be making assumptions and constructing theories as to the identity of the main antihero or the nature of their crime. Not to mention that it is highly unconvincing when a sudden previously unmentioned character magically fixes the situation in the very end. Add a mysterious look, a lost object, a few footprints and your story will be worth reading.

Character Number

Even though you could write a superb story with just a few key characters, the possibilities of the identity of the criminal in such case would be very limited. To make your story more exciting, introduce at least a few potential criminals, among likely and unlikely. If there are a butler, a cook and a gardener in the house of the murdered mistress, the reader will be more involved in the story, and thus your chances for succeeding will increase dramatically. Make sure to flesh out each protagonist and provide them with enough details to make them appear likely and unlikely to be a suspect at the same time.

Mysterious Butler

Tricky Plot

While writing a detective story it is especially crucial to figure out all the minor details during the process of pre-writing. Just like working behind the scenes, you need to focus on guaranteeing that your actors will arrive on time and not trip over the stage props. Having left a deep shadow of doubt over the evil stepmother, you have neglected the rich cousin, who might also be involved in the murder. Make a diagram of the characters and analyze the motifs and proofs behind their every action. If you are unsure how your story can be interpreted, you can always give it for evaluation to a friend.

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