2) Elements of Mystery Fiction 2

I. Questions

1. What does Tapply say are the six main elements of mystery fiction? Address each one separately, and give a thorough explanation for each. 

a) The puzzle

The puzzle is the question that fuels the mystery and the mystery revolves around the puzzle. The broad question that the puzzle is is “who did it?”. Some specific questions could be “who stole the diamond?” or “Who murdered him?”.

b) Detection

Detection is almost all of the body of the mystery fiction. This is when someone or a group of people are trying to detect and solve the puzzle by gathering different clues and witnesses. The story resolves when the detection ends and the puzzle is solved.

c) The sleuth as the Hero

The sleuth is the detective or the Hero/Heroine who saves the day by detecting the different clues to piece them up to solve the puzzle. The sleuth has a lot of good characteristics such as intelligence, charm, strength or all of these characteristics. The sleuth is usually the protagonist of the story.

d) The worthy Villain

The villain is the antagonist of the story who tries to sneak out from the sleuth’s radar. The villain is not dumb but is as intelligent as the sleuth creating false traps or holes to get away with a murder, a robbery, etc.

e) Fair Play

Fair play is an important part of a mystery and a reader might not enjoy a mystery fiction without fair play. Fair play is a characteristic where in the book the clues that are available to the sleuth is available to the reader so the reader can try to solve the crime with the sleuth. This prevents the reader from being board.

f) Realism and Logic

Realism and Logic is another important part of mystery fiction. The whole point of mystery fiction is for the hole thing to fit in to the puzzle. The story has to seem real because if it doesn’t the readers can not be one with the book and fall in to it as easily.

2. What does it mean to make the “reader as a participant” in a mystery? Which author was the first to do this? 

To take the “reader as a participant” in a mystery means that the author gives certain amount of information so that the reader can feel like he or she is exactly in the book. This can be very hard for the authors because they have to give what the readers want. The readers want the clues that the sleuth has so that they can also try to solve the mystery themselves. This is something called fair play. However, the readers don’t want to be treated like babies and doesn’t want the author or the sleuth to lead them to every single step so that they don’t have a chance of solving the problem.

In fair play, it also means fair play between the readers and the detective. If the author gives more information to the readers or vise versa it would mean that one side wouldn’t be able to solve the case easier than the other.

3. One of the keys to good creative writing, is to “show, don’t tell.” What does this mean? Give an original example of what “show, don’t tell” means, either in a book you’ve read, or in real life.

One of the keys to good creative writing, which is to “show, don’t tell” means for the author to not describe everything. In real life no narrator tells you what the person is thinking, you have to notice yourself or make an assumption. This is what “show, don’t tell” means. Some might think that this isn’t fair but this makes the readers have more fun. Fair play also pitches in to this. If the narrator tells you information, obviously the sleuth doesn’t know it which means that fair play has been violated. The author tries his or her best to describe every motion that the person is making so that you can depict it and find out yourself.

An example of this can be in real life. For example, once my friend was sad and when I asked if something was wrong, she said no. I could tell something was wrong because she was trying hard to fake smile and her eyes were damp.


II. Works Cited

Works Cited

Tapply, William G. The Elements of Mystery Fiction: Writing a Modern Whodunit. Scottsdale, AZ: Poisoned Pen, 2004. Print.