Ten Ways Mystery Kills Other Genres

See what I did there? 😉 Let’s be honest: some genres are simply better than others. And naturally, I think mystery is the best, hands-down. Why is it the best? I’m so glad you asked…

1. Death! Mystery writers get to kill people. With finesse and skill and subtlety. And it’s socially acceptable.

2. No genre is better with details. Why? Clues! We have to make you suspicious without even knowing you’re suspicious. We’ve gotta make you doubt and wonder. And then when you’re done, you’ll look back and realize we slipped in all kinds of clues that you were supposed to only half-notice.

3. Mystery can include both romance AND death. We can make people fall in love AND we can kill them. (Although it’s limited to that order, since it’s not SciFi.)

4. No one is safe. Wanna feel like you’re living on the edge? Read mystery. We reserve the right to kill anyone at any time. Even your favorite. And you’ll never see it coming.

5. Cardio, anyone? Mystery can give your heart a fabulous workout when the villain is creeping up, knife in hand, behind the heroine, who is blissfully sniffing flowers. She leans toward that lovely red one, her hair falling toward her face, as he stretches out the knife toward the back of her neck… And you know by this point that we have no problem letting him injure her. We’re ruthless like that.

6. It pulls you in like no other genre can. Why? Because you, like the protagonist, are trying to figure out who the killer is. You’re in the story, analyzing the clues. In other genres, you’re simply a spectator.

7. Who can tell you about the most popular methods of murder? Anyone who loves this genre, that’s for sure. And mystery writers get to learn all kinds of dark things in the name of research. (Did you know there’s a murderpedia? Oh yeah. It’s good.)

8. It’ll keep you guessing. Constantly. Other genres may make you wonder a little but nothing can tie you up in a quandary like trying to guess the murderer. Once you’re sure you’ve figured it out, hello plot twist! And then you’ll feel guilty that the person you suspected is actually an incredible, selfless person. Or dead. Or both. (I refer you back to number 4)

9. We make you cautious. You know it’s true: after you read a book where the murderer turns out to be the sweet old lady who worked in the coffee shop, you start looking at coffee shop old ladies differently. We show you that even the nicest of people are capable of murder. Therefore, mysteries help you make smart, safe choices.

10. There’s no better catharsis. We’ll drag our main character (and you) through the ringer. We’ll make her stumble upon a bloody corpse, fall into the trap of a sadistic murderer, lose someone she loves, get shot/stabbed/etc… but we’ll still make sure evil loses in the end. It’ll be the best feeling in the world.

Okay, what did I miss, mystery-lovers? And those of you who disagree (*cough* romance writers *cough*), feel free to share the reasons you think your genre is better. Let’s start a genre war! Said the mystery writer.

fiction snippet: Easter morning

Hey readers! In celebration of Easter, here’s another piece for you that I had to cut. (In case you missed it, you can read the rehearsal for this Easter play scene here.) Enjoy and Happy Easter!

I was mummified. It was Easter morning; the whole church was sitting on the other side of those curtains, waiting to watch the story of Easter unfold. I was supposed to be an angel, but I was wrapped up tighter than King Tut.

Butterflies fluttered in my stomach while the cute mini-humans from my sister’s Sunday school class whispered nervously. Their anticipation was resulting in an excited little dance, or was that an “I need to go to the bathroom” dance? I couldn’t really tell. Thankfully, that’s why there were a handful of parents hovering backstage.

Why did I let her talk me into helping out? There were too many ways this could go wrong.

I reviewed my lines again. Nothing too complicated, assuming I could remember them. And deliver them at the right time. And not get tangled up in my costume. And not fall.

So just a few details, then. It should be a breeze.

I waddled around backstage, a wire halo popping up from my head like a wayward antenna in search of messages from the outer limits. Finally it was time for our scene. Alena carefully guided her herd onto the stage, ensuring that everyone was in their proper places, and promised us we would be great.

I, however, had a few doubts about that.

With a flourish, the curtains opened. A few breathtaking moments of silence lingered, the first little actor faltering briefly before exploding with her lines. The rest of the cast delivered their lines without any major incidents.

This time, when it was my turn, I was ready. Taking a deep breath, I projected, in my most dramatic voice, “Why do you search for the living among the dead?”

So far so good. Just keep going.

“Jesus is not here. He has risen, just as He told you.”

Aha! I have triumphed.

The duo of little women stared at me, as if they were waiting for something. Was it my ghostly apparel that was distracting them? But they had seen me looking ghoulish at the rehearsal, so it didn’t seem likely my appearance would disturb them now.

Were they having trouble remembering what to do? Maybe someone was supposed to prompt them. I wasn’t sure what the right procedure was. Surely Alena would jump in, if needed. All I knew was that they were supposed to be hurrying away now to tell the . . . oh . . .

“Now go, tell the disciples,” I added, conversationally, as if the long pause was a part of the script. For all I knew, the original angel had some trouble remembering his lines too.

Yeah right.

At least I didn’t throw up. I could agree that I had improved a little since tenth grade.

I really needed to stop agreeing to things like this.