Do you ever find yourself stuck in a creative rut? Are you having trouble coming up with story ideas? If so, you’re not alone. A lot of writers struggle with this issue at some point or another. But don’t worry – we’ve got you covered! This blog post will share 30 mysterious and intriguing story prompts that will help spark your creativity. So get ready to unleash your inner writer!
30 Mystery Story Ideas
- An unsolved murder case that has plagued the small town of Pleasant Valley for years suddenly takes a strange turn when an old journal is found hidden in the victim’s house.
- A private detective finds herself tangled up in a web of lies and deception when she takes on a high-profile missing person case involving a wealthy businessman’s daughter.
- A young woman wakes up one morning to find that she has no memory of who she is or where she comes from – and it seems as though everyone around her is hiding something from her.
- A series of cryptic clues left behind by a reclusive billionaire leads a team of investigators on an epic treasure hunt, with the promise of unimaginable riches awaiting them at the end.
- When a prominent politician turns up dead under mysterious circumstances, his wife vows to uncover the truth behind his untimely demise, no matter what it takes.
- A detective duo must race against the clock to solve an elaborate puzzle created by a serial killer before more innocent lives are lost in the process.
- As dark secrets begin to surface about her past, a young woman must delve deep into the murky depths of her family history if she ever hopes to end the mystery once and for all.
- When several prominent figures start mysteriously disappearing in the Big Apple, an investigative journalist teams up with her ex-boyfriend – now a police detective – to get to the bottom of it before it’s too late.
- Amid rising tensions between the United States and Russia, the CIA sends a covert operative on a dangerous mission to uncover a group of sleeper spies who have been loyally serving Moscow for decades.
- An ingenious serial killer hones in on his next victim, a young woman working at a seedy hotel on the edge of town.
- An insurance investigator is hired to investigate when several former funeral home employees claim that their former boss had been using the deceased as guinea pigs for some sort of inhuman experiments.
- A man must put his shady past as a hitman behind him when he is sent on a mission to track down his former boss and end his reign of terror.
- After a group of teenagers dies mysteriously under suspicious circumstances, it becomes up to a young woman to piece together the clues and solve the case before it’s too late.
- A book publisher hires an aspiring writer to ghostwrite the autobiography of a mysterious radio DJ whose success has been built on a foundation of dark secrets and lies.
- When a ten-year-old boy is kidnapped, the only clue to his whereabouts leads the police to a mysterious warehouse that seems to have no other purpose than to hold children prisoner.
- An enigmatic artist is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in the middle of the night, and it becomes up to a famous painter to find out what he was working on before his life was cut short.
- After a group of students is stranded on a remote island in the middle of the night, they discover that their only hope for survival rests in the hands of an enigmatic stranger who has been marooned on the island for years.
- A homicide detective has a lot to deal with on his hands when his ex-girlfriend is found dead in her home under mysterious circumstances, leading him to question everything he once thought he knew about her.
- A young woman is sent to a psychiatric hospital after she starts exhibiting strange behavior following a childhood trauma – but was it the trauma that caused it?
- A teenager finds herself haunted by the ghost of her dead brother – and what she discovers is a chilling truth about his death and the secret society responsible for it.
- A mysterious masked woman arrives in a small town and quickly becomes the talk of the town – but no one seems to know anything about her other than that she somehow knows everything about everyone else.
- An amateur photographer takes a picture of an elderly woman when he spots her standing in front of an old house on the edge of town that is rumored to be haunted. However, the photograph on the camera’s display seems to be something straight out of this world.
- An ex-soldier and his wife move into a new neighborhood and are told by their neighbors that they might want to avoid walking their dog up and down the street, especially at night.
- While the rest of the world is in the throes of World War I, a young orphan girl is sent on a journey to Europe to help end the bloodshed.
- While a traveling salesman makes his route along the west coast, he falls in love with an enigmatic woman living in the town of Fairview – a woman who happens to be dead.
- A group of reporters tries to uncover the truth behind the mysterious disappearance of a young woman studying at a secret medical research facility in upstate New York.
- After moving into a new home, a man begins to experience supernatural phenomena that make him question everything he once believed to be true.
- When a young boy is abducted from his home and taken to a faraway land, it’s up to his sister to find him.
- When a young waitress goes missing during a late-night shift at her local diner, it’s up to the rest of the staff to solve the case before it’s too late.
So there you have 30 story ideas to help you develop some great mystery stories!
What Is an Example of a Mystery Story?
The Mysterious Case of the Disappearing Mansion
For as long as anyone could remember, the old abandoned mansion on the edge of town had been lurking there, dark and foreboding. No one dared to go near it; the only people who ever set foot on the property were the kids who dared each other to do so. But then, one day, it was just… gone and vanished into thin air. The only thing that remained was a single, mysteriously-glowing brick. What could have possibly happened to the mansion? And more importantly, what happened to the person who built it?
The first suspects in the case were the kids who had been daredevils enough to explore the mansion inside. But they all had ironclad alibis; they were in school when the mansion disappeared. So if it wasn’t them, then who was it?
The next logical suspect was the owner of the property. But investigators went to speak to him and found that he had passed away several years prior. His heirs told investigators that they had never even seen the property; it had been locked up and abandoned for as long as anyone could remember. So if it wasn’t the kids and it wasn’t the owner, then who was it?
The only other possibility was that someone else had keys to the property. But when investigators spoke to the real estate agent who had sold the property to its previous owner, she told them that she didn’t have any keys and hadn’t seen or heard from anyone since she’d sold it. So if it wasn’t the kids, and it wasn’t the owner or his heirs, and it wasn’t the real estate agent… then who was it?
To this day, no one knows what happened to that old mansion or who was responsible for its disappearance. Was it an inside job? Did someone hex it? Or did it just up and disappear of its own accord? We may never know for sure. But one thing’s for sure: It’s certainly one of the most mysterious cases in our town’s history.
How to Structure a Mystery Story: The Basic Framework
A good mystery story keeps readers guessing until the very end. The best mystery stories are complex enough to keep readers engaged but not so complex that they become convoluted and confusing. So, how do you strike that perfect balance?
The first step in writing a mystery story is a hook—a sentence or two that will grab your readers’ attention and make them want to keep reading. The hook should be intriguing and mysterious, leaving readers with more questions than answers. It should also be relevant to the rest of the story; don’t mislead your readers with a false sense of what the story is about.
The Introductory Scene
After the hook, you’ll need to set the stage for your mystery by introducing your protagonist and giving some basic background information. This is also where you’ll establish the tone of the story. Is it a light-hearted mystery? A hard-boiled detective story? Something in between?
The Inciting Incident
The inciting incident is the event that sets the entire story in motion. This is usually where your protagonist learns about whatever crime they will have to solve. For example, in Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, the inciting incident occurs when each of the guests receives an anonymous letter inviting them to an island off the coast of Devon, England.
The suspects are then introduced, along with any possible motives they might have for committing the crime. Once all of the pieces are in place, it’s time for…
This is the big reveal—the moment when everything comes together and readers finally learn whodunnit. The climax should be enjoyable to read; after all, your readers have stuck with you through thick and thin, so you owe it to them to give them a satisfying ending. That being said, don’t feel like you have to tie up every loose end; sometimes, leaving your readers with a few unanswered questions can be fun.
Suitable Topics for a Mystery Story
A good mystery story engages the reader and leaves them guessing until the end. A well-plotted mystery will have twists and turns, red herrings and false leads, and plenty of suspense to keep the reader hooked. If you’re struggling to develop ideas for your next mystery novel, check out some potential topics for inspiration.
- An unsolved crime from the past: This is a classic setup for a mystery story. There may be a cold case file gathering dust in the police department or something that happened before the protagonist was born. By delving into the past, the protagonist may uncover long-buried secrets and solve a crime that everyone except the victim’s family has forgotten.
- A locked room mystery: This type of mystery typically occurs in a confined space, such as a ship at sea or an isolated house in the country. The challenge for the protagonist is to figure out how someone could have committed a murder when there appears to be no way in or out of the room where the body was found.3.
- A disappearing act: This is another intriguing mystery plot that could revolve around a person who vanishes without a trace. Did they run away? Were they kidnapped? Or did they simply vanish into thin air? The possibilities are endless, and it’ll be up to the detective to find out what happened to the missing person.
- An inheritance: This could be a classic whodunit where someone inherits a large sum of money or a more modern take on poisoned chalices where someone stands to gain power or influence through inheriting a business or political position. In either case, plenty of people would benefit from the heir’s death, making it difficult for the detective to figure out who killed them and why.
- A clone: With advances in science and technology, cloning is becoming more and more realistic as an option for human reproduction. But what if two clones were born with identical DNA? What if one clone was created without the knowledge or consent of the other? These are just some ethical questions that could be explored in a mystery story about clones.
- A small town with big secrets: Everyone knows everyone else’s business in a small town, right? Wrong! There are always secrets and scandals in even the tightest-knit communities. A good way to create suspense in your mystery novel is to have rumors and gossip swirling around your townspeople so that nobody knows who to trust.
- A haunted house: A mysterious death occurred in this house years ago, and ever since then, it has been abandoned and left to rot…or has it? The new owners will renovate it, but strange things start happening as soon as they set foot inside. Is the house truly haunted, or is somebody trying to drive them away?
How to Write a Mystery Scene: The Top 10 Tips
There’s nothing quite like a good mystery. The suspense, the uncertainty, the detective work—it’s all so captivating. If you’re a writer who loves a good mystery, you might wonder how to write a mystery scene of your own. Fortunately, we’re here to help. Keep reading for the top 10 tips on writing a mystery scene that will keep your readers guessing until the very end.
- Start with a bang. You want to hook your reader immediately, so ensure your opening scene is packed with action and suspense. Get things moving quickly and keep the momentum going throughout the scene.
- Create an air of mystery. Part of what makes a mystery so captivating is the sense of uncertainty and unease that comes along with it. As you’re writing your scene, try to create an aura of mystery and intrigue that will leave your readers wanting more.
- Flesh out your characters. For your readers to get invested in your story, they need to be able to connect with your characters. Be sure to flesh out their backstories and motivations so that they feel real and relatable.
- Establish the stakes. What’s at stake in your mystery? Is it a matter of life or death? The higher the stakes, the more suspenseful your story will be. Be sure to make them clear early on so that your readers know just how much is riding on the outcome of your story.
- Build up the tension. As your story progresses, it’s important to continue building up the tension and suspense bit by bit so that it reaches its peak at just the right moment—the climax of your story.
- Throw in some red herrings. A few well-placed red herrings can add an extra layer of intrigue and unpredictability to your story. Just be careful not to overdo it—too many red herrings can be confusing for your reader and take away from the overall impact of your story.
- Keep things moving forward. A good mystery is always moving forward—you don’t want your story to stall or drag on too long without any progress. You’ll keep your reader engaged and eager to discover what happens next by keeping things moving forward.
- Reach a satisfying conclusion. After all that build-up, you must reach a satisfying conclusion that ties up all loose ends and leaves your reader satisfied. An unsatisfying ending can leave a bad taste in their mouth and reflect poorly on your story.
- Make sure all loose ends are tied up. In addition to having a satisfying conclusion, you also want to ensure that all loose ends are tied up before you reach the end of your story. This means answering any questions that might have been raised throughout your story and providing closure for both your characters and your readers.
- Leave them wanting more. Finally, you want to leave your readers wanting more. One way to do this is by hinting at a potential sequel or leaving things open for interpretation. Another way is simply by writing such an enjoyable mystery scene that they can’t help but come back for more.
Tips for Developing a Compelling Mystery Plot
A good mystery keeps readers guessing until the very end. As a writer, you want to keep your readers engaged and eager to discover what happens next. But coming up with an original and compelling mystery plot can be easier said than done. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
Start with the Crime
All great mysteries start with a crime. This event sets the story in motion and drives the plot forward. The crime can be anything from a murder to a robbery to a significant event that has taken place. Once you have decided on the crime, you can start building the backstory and develop the characters involved in the story.
Create Complex Characters
Your readers need to be able to empathize with your characters to be fully invested in the story. Create characters who are flawed and have secrets of their own. These secrets can motivate the characters to act in certain ways or make certain decisions throughout the story. By making your characters complex, you will make your mystery more compelling.
Establish Suspects and Motives
In any good mystery, there should be multiple suspects with different possible motives for committing the crime. This gives your readers someone to root for and keeps them guessing who did it until the end. Be sure to include red herrings throughout the story to throw your readers off the track and keep them guessing.
How to Write a Mystery Without Murder
The beauty of writing is that there are no rules. You can write whatever you want. However you want. You can even break the so-called “rules” of writing and still produce a masterpiece. So, if you’re a mystery writer tired of writing about murder, don’t despair! There are plenty of other ways to write a riveting mystery. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.
Who stole the Mona Lisa? What happened to the lost city of Atlantis? Where is Jimmy Hoffa buried? These mysterious thefts have captivated the imaginations of people for centuries. A theft mystery doesn’t have to be about art or ancient relics, though. It could be as simple as someone stealing your protagonist’s wallet or bicycle. The key is to make the stakes high enough that your readers will be invested in finding out who did it and why.
People always go missing, but some disappearances are more mysterious than others. Think about cases where there were no witnesses, and nobody was ever found. Was the person kidnapped? Did they run away? Or did they meet with foul play? As with any good mystery, the possibilities are endless. Use your imagination and let your creativity run wild.
There’s nothing quite as intriguing as a good old fashioned fraud mystery. From Bernie Madoff to Enron, countless examples of real-life fraud cases have captured the public’s attention for years. If you want to write a fraud mystery, consider making your protagonist an outsider trying to uncover the truth about a powerful organization or individual. This type of story keeps your readers guessing until the very end.