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100 Mystery Story Ideas to Spark Your Imagination

Do you love a good mystery? If so, you’re in luck! In this blog post, we will provide 100 mystery story ideas – sorted by genre – that will help spark your imagination. You’ll even find some specific plot element ideas below! Whether you’re a seasoned writer or just starting, these creative writing prompts will help get the creative juices flowing. So what are you waiting for? Get started today!

10 Mystery Story Ideas

1. The mysterious disappearance of a young girl from a small town leaves everyone wondering what happened to her and where she could be.

2. A murder investigation raises more questions than answers, with no clear suspect or motive.

3. A dark, foreboding forest hides countless secrets and sinister forces at work.

4. An eerie mansion filled with cobwebbed corridors and dark, empty rooms where strange noises can be heard at all-night hours.

5. A string of grisly murders seem to have no connection or logical pattern, leaving the police baffled and desperate for answers.

6. A cryptic puzzle that leads you down a dark path filled with twists and turns, leaving you feeling utterly lost and confused by the end of it all.

7. An old book full of arcane symbols and eldritch writing that seems to hold the key to unlocking some dangerous or forbidden knowledge.

8. A quiet or creepy-looking town where the residents seem to be harboring some dark secret.

9. A missing person is last seen after attending a strange cult meeting.

10. A long-lost relative suddenly reappears after many years of being presumed dead, with no explanation for why or how they were gone.

10 Murder Mystery Plot Ideas

1. A small-town sheriff investigates the murder of a local woman, only to discover that the killer might be a werewolf.

2. A detective tries to solve a series of murders committed by a serial killer who seems to disappear into thin air after each crime.

3. A group of friends uncovers a conspiracy while investigating the death of their friend, who they believe was murdered by the government.

4. A woman discovers that her husband has been cheating on her with another woman and kills him in a fit of rage, leading the detective assigned to the case to suspect her of his murder.

5. A man is killed in an apparent robbery gone wrong, but the investigation reveals that his death may have been orchestrated by someone close to him.

6. A woman is found dead in an alley; the only clues to her murder are a pair of broken glasses and a single red rose.

7. A woman’s body is discovered in the middle of the forest, naked and covered in strange symbols.

8. A detective goes undercover at a prestigious preparatory school to investigate the murder of a student, only to discover that the killer might be one of his classmates.

9. A wealthy businessman is found dead on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean. His death is ruled a suicide, but his wife suspects foul play.

10. A man is found dead; the only clue to his murder is a cryptic note left behind on his laptop.

10 Cozy Mysteries Ideas

1. A group of amateur sleuths gets caught up in an elaborate mystery while vacationing at a small-town bed and breakfast.

2. A cozy mystery series following a pair of sisters as they solve complex crimes while operating a quaint little bookstore.

3. A retired detective moves to the country to lead a quiet life but finds herself drawn into an exciting new mystery when her neighbor is found dead on her front lawn.

4. A cozy mystery series following the antics of a lively neighborhood book club, who get caught up in all sorts of thrilling mysteries and scandals as they attempt to unravel them all.

5. A crime-solving cat named Sherlock prowls around his cozy little neighborhood, helping his human companions investigate various mysterious happenings and disappearances.

6. An amateur detective with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge decides to start recording her exploits in a personal journal, chronicling every case she solves, no matter how trivial or seemingly insignificant.

7. An amateur detective turns her home into a bed and breakfast, hoping that her sleuth skills will be used if any of her guests get into trouble while staying there.

8. A sleuth with a passion for baking moonlights as a private investigator gets mixed up in all sorts of exciting cases as she strives to solve them.

9. An amateur investigator is plagued by visions of a mysterious woman in a long white dress whenever she steps out into the moonlight.

10. A series of murders are linked to a man’s contentious divorce, in which both he and his wife were given a fortune in truffles and a menacing threat if either of them did not sign the divorce papers within a month.

10 Crime Fiction Ideas

1. A group of criminals teams up to pull off a heist, but things quickly go awry when they realize that one is a double-crosser.

2. A detective is hot on the trail of a killer, but the closer he gets to catching the murderer, the more he realizes that he may know the killer better than anyone else.

3. A woman wakes up in a hospital with no memory of who she is or how she got there, only to find out she is being accused of a crime she cannot remember committing.

4. When a young woman is brutally murdered, her best friend sets out to find the killer but discovers that the truth is far more complicated than she ever imagined.

5. A man convicted of a crime he did not commit strives to clear his name and find the real killer before it’s too late.

6. A private investigator takes on a case that seems simple enough at first but turns deadly when he realizes he’s chasing a psychopath with no intention of letting go.

7. A crime writer who moonlights as a detective looks into a cold case surrounding the murder of a woman with a mysterious connection to his family.

8. A police officer who moonlights as a private investigator discovers that the evidence tying a serial killer to a series of murders may be more thorough and damaging than anyone ever imagined.

9. A man gets caught up in the gritty underworld of organized crime after trying to make some extra money to pay his debts and gets mixed up in his scheme.

10. A woman is pulled into a dangerous world of crime and corruption when she tries to help a friend pay off a debt she owes to a dangerous mobster.

10 Murder Victim Mystery Writing Prompts

1. A young woman whose life was cut short before she could achieve her dreams and ambitions.

2. A promising young musician was senselessly murdered for no reason.

3. An elderly woman whose death has been ruled a tragic accident but may have resulted from foul play.

4. A college student who was brutally killed in a random act of violence while trying to enjoy a night out with friends.

5. A successful businesswoman whose shocking murder shook the community and left everyone in disbelief and confused.

6. An innocent bystander tragically caught up in a gang shootout and killed for no reason other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

7. A wealthy philanthropist whose death rocked the community after it was revealed that he had ties to some dangerous criminal organizations, unbeknownst to most of those around him.

8. An investigative journalist dedicated to seeking the truth made him powerful enemies, resulting in his untimely death.

9. A young man whose life was tragically cut short following a destructive addiction to drugs and alcohol.

10. A young woman whose artistic talents and ability to inspire others would never be realized thanks to her untimely and senseless death.

10 Murder Weapon Ideas

1. An elaborate and carefully planned poisoning, executed with the perfect dose of poison to ensure a quick and painless death.

2. A sniper rifle or other long-range weapon used to kill from a distance without ever having to be seen or caught.

3. A razor blade slipped into an unsuspecting victim’s food or drink, resulting in their rapid and agonizing demise.

4. A bomb planted in someone’s home or workplace causes them to die instantly in the explosion or slowly bleed out over time if they don’t receive medical attention.

5. An untraceable poison dart is shot directly at the victim with deadly accuracy and efficiency.

6. A sharp knife wielded by a skilled assassin who can inflict fatal wounds with surgical precision and ease.

7. A brutal beating inflicts severe injuries on the victim until they succumb to their injuries and die a painful death on the cold ground below them.

8. A gun hidden inside a folded newspaper or newspaper stand pulled out at a moment’s notice to end a victim’s life in a flurry of hot lead.

9. A walking time bomb, activated by someone who knew they would be in the area at a moment’s notice, leaving the victim little time to escape.

10. A fire that rages like a wild animal, completely out of control, and relentlessly desires to consume everything in its wake.

10 Investigative Agencies

1. A secret organization that acts as a highly specialized police force tasked with taking down crime syndicates.

2. A covert agency that gathers intelligence on a wide array of foreign governments and extremist groups, acting as one of the government’s most efficient and effective crimefighting teams.

3. A clandestine organization composed of a team of elite agents with the skills and training to tackle the most challenging cases.

4. A private detective agency that works closely with local law enforcement to provide them with valuable insight and assistance on particularly difficult cases.

5. A private agency specializing in finding missing people, acting as a detective agency for those who have gone missing but have not necessarily met a violent end.

6. A detective agency that specializes in finding missing people, often those who have been abducted or are being held against their will.

7. A highly secretive group of detectives and investigators specializing in solving paranormal or supernatural cases or cases that otherwise cannot be solved with conventional methods.

8. A group of quixotic and charming private investigators who specialize in solving unusual or tricky cases with every bit of skill and finesse they can muster.

9. A group of highly trained and well-equipped detectives who solve the toughest crimes with the help of their state-of-the-art equipment, much of which they designed themselves.

10. A group of veteran detectives who have all seen their fair share of the world’s darkness and worked to bring it to light.

10 False Clue Ideas

1. A false lead left by the serial killer, designed to throw investigators off track and leave them chasing their tails as they relentlessly search for clues.

2. Misinformation planted by an accomplice or other associates of the killer, designed to keep investigators in the dark about the true culprit behind the crime.

3. False evidence planted by someone with a personal grudge against the victim, hoping to frame them for a crime they did not commit.

4. A crucial piece of information has been deliberately withheld from investigators, either by a desperate killer or someone trying to protect their loved one from harsh punishment.

5. A shady informant or criminal is happy to feed investigators any false information that might bring them closer to solving the case.

6. The killer tells an elaborate web of lies to make themselves appear innocent and throw others off their scent.

7. Conflicting witness testimony from people exposed to different aspects of the crime and either misremembering or flat-out lying to investigators.

8. A rumor has been spreading since the crime occurred, leaving witnesses and investigators unsure about what happened and who was responsible for the crime.

9. A false lead spread like wildfire and was swallowed up by witnesses and investigators alike, further muddling the waters and ensuring the real culprit got away.

10. A carefully constructed story told by the victim before they died, designed to throw investigators off the trail of the real culprit and ensure that the real killer goes free.

10 False Witness Ideas

1. A witness paid off by a criminal to testify that a different person was responsible for the crime.

2. A witness who falsely believes their testimony could end their involvement in the crime and grant them a clean getaway.

3. A witness who is the true culprit of the crime and offers to testify under the guise of a lesser sentence.

4. A witness covering up the crime’s true culprit to protect someone they love.

5. A witness tries to escape their involvement in the crime by pinning it on someone else.

6. A witness making false accusations to escape their charges and get a lighter sentence.

7. A witness whose testimony is a wild, inconsistent mess, leaving investigators unsure what is true and what is nothing more than a foggy recollection of events.

8. A witness is trying to protect themselves from an accusation by someone else or their conscience.

9. A witness who is a pathological liar, willing to say anything to throw investigators off the trail of the real culprit.

10. A witness is so severely injured that they are not in the right state of mind to recount what happened accurately.

10 Crime Scene Ideas

1. A murder scene that the killer has meticulously staged to mislead investigators and throw them off the trail.

2. A dead body has been tampered with to destroy evidence or plant false clues.

3. A crime scene that is so gruesome and disturbing that it leaves investigators shaken to their core.

4. A crime scene that is eerily calm and peaceful, despite the brutal nature of the crime that took place there.

5. A crime scene has been completely wiped clean of any evidence, making it nearly impossible for investigators to solve the case.

6. A crime scene is located in a remote, isolated location, making it difficult for investigators to get there and conduct a thorough investigation.

7. A crime scene is located in a highly trafficked area, making it challenging for investigators to gather evidence and speak to witnesses without being interrupted or disturbed.

8. A crime scene in an unassuming location, without any real indication that it is a crime scene or that anything untoward occurred.

9. A crime scene is located inside a public building and surrounded by witnesses and people looking out for their self-interest.

10. A crime scene contaminated by regular first responders may have unwittingly compromised the crime scene and any evidence it might contain.

What Makes a Good Mystery Story?

The best mystery stories are the ones that keep you guessing until the very end. They’re full of twists and turns and keep you engaged from beginning to end. But what exactly makes good mystery writing? Let’s take a closer look.

Suspenseful Plotting

Sp suspenseful plotting is one of the most important elements of a good mystery story. The story should keep you guessing at every turn and be full of unexpected twists and turns. A good mystery story will keep you engaged from beginning to end and leave you wanting more when it’s over.

Complex Characters

Another important element of a good mystery story is complex characters. The characters in the story – not only your main character – should be fully fleshed out, and they should be believable. The best mystery stories are the ones where you care about the characters and their plight. You should feel invested in their journey and root for them to solve the mystery.

Satisfying Resolution

Finally, a good mystery story should have a satisfying resolution. The story should be well-crafted, and all loose ends should be tied up in a neat little bow. The resolution should make sense and shouldn’t leave you disappointed or cheated.

What Are Some Good Mystery Genre Topics to Write About?

1. An unsolved cold case that’s been making headlines for years. What happened?

2. A haunted house that no one has been able to live in for more than a year.

3. A small town with a dark secret bubbling to the surface.

4. A missing person who turns up dead…or alive.

5. An identity theft ring targeting everyone in a certain profession.

6. A string of murders all point to the same suspect…or do they?

7. A con artist seems to be one step ahead of the police at every turn.

8. A hostage situation has gone wrong. Who’s responsible?

9. A witness who comes forward with information about a crime…but is he/she telling the truth?

10. Secrets and lies tear a family apart. What will happen when the truth finally comes out?

How to Write a Cozy Mystery

If you want to write a cozy mystery, keep a few things in mind! To write a successful cozy mystery, you must create an engaging cast of characters, cook up a clever crime, and whip up a red herring.

Step 1: Create an Engaging Cast of Characters

One of the most important aspects of writing a cozy mystery is creating a cast of characters readers want to follow. Your protagonist should be someone readers can empathize with and root for, while your antagonist should be someone they love to hate. Think about your favorite books and movies – chances are, you’re invested in the characters because you can’t wait to see what happens to them next. That’s the feeling you want to evoke in your readers!

In addition to your protagonist and antagonist, you’ll also need to populate your story with a colorful cast of supporting characters. These supporting characters can provide comic relief, lend a helping hand, or even get involved in the crime itself! Whatever role they play, ensure they’re fully fleshed out and interesting.

Step 2: Cook Up a Clever Crime

Now it’s time to start thinking about the crime itself. What kind of criminal mischief will your protagonist have to solve? To make things more challenging (and more fun for readers), try to come up with a crime that isn’t immediately obvious. This means no murders – instead, try crimes like theft, embezzlement, or even fraud. You could also consider making your crime personal for your protagonist – for example, if their pet is kidnapped or their home is broken into.

Once you’ve decided on the kind of crime you want to write about, it’s time to start planning out the details. Who committed the crime? How did they do it? And most importantly, why? Answering these questions will help you plot out your story and add an extra layer of intrigue for readers. For example, if the victim was someone your protagonist didn’t get along with, that could add an extra motive for solving the case.

Step 3: Add Some Red Herrings

A classic staple of any good mystery is the red herring – clues or information that lead investigators (and readers) astray. Adding red herrings into your story can help make things more challenging for your protagonist and readers as they try to solve the case. Just be careful not to overdo it – too many red herrings can confuse and frustrate everyone!

What Makes a Good Clue in a Mystery?

If you’re a fan of mystery novels, you know that a good clue can make all the difference. A well-placed clue can be the key to unlocking the entire mystery, while a poorly-placed one can leave you scratching your head for hours. So, what goes into making a good clue? Let’s take a look.

Placement is Key

A good clue should never be placed too early or too late in the story. If it’s too early, the reader won’t have enough information to make sense of it. On the other hand, if it’s too late, the reader will feel like they’ve been cheated out of an important piece of the puzzle. A good rule of thumb is to introduce the clue about two-thirds of the way through the story. This gives the reader enough time to digest all of the information that’s come before and start putting the pieces together.

Make It Subtle

A good clue should never be heavy-handed. If you’re beating your readers over the head with it, they’re likely to either miss it entirely or become frustrated with your obviousness. A subtle approach is always best. Drop hints here and there and let your readers put them together themselves. Trust us; they’ll appreciate it much more in the end.

Keep It Internal

When it comes to clues, less is almost always more. You don’t need to include every piece of evidence in your story; that would overwhelm your readers. Instead, focus on one or two key pieces to help move the story along. And remember, you can always reveal new information later on down the line if necessary.

How to Create a Mysterious Character

A truly enigmatic character can be one of the most intriguing aspects of a story. They add an element of suspense, keeping readers guessing until the very end. But how do you go about creating an authentically mysterious character? Here are a few tips.

Developing Backstory

One of the first things you need to do when creating a mystery character is to develop their backstory. What secrets are they hiding? What traumas have they experienced? Why are they so closed off? Answering questions like these will help you write a more three-dimensional character in which readers will be invested.

As you’re developing the backstory for your mystery character, it’s important to strike a balance. You don’t want to give away too much too soon, but you don’t want your character to feel like an empty shell. It can be helpful to start by brainstorming a list of possible secrets or mysteries surrounding your character and slowly reveal these details throughout your story.

Physical Appearance

Another important aspect of creating a mystery character is their physical appearance. What do they look like? Do they dress in all black with a long trench coat? Or are they more subtle in their presentation? As with their backstory, you don’t want to give away too much regarding your character’s physical appearance too soon. A good rule of thumb only reveals what is essential for the story. Everything else can be left up to the reader’s imagination.

Giving Your Character Voice

It can be tricky to find the right voice for a mystery character. After all, part of what makes them so mysterious is their reluctance to share information about themselves. But simultaneously, you don’t want your character to come across as blank or one-dimensional. A good way to strike this balance is by having your character speak in short, clipped sentences. This will give them an air of mystery while allowing them to express themselves and interact with other characters in the story.

How Many Suspects Should You Have in a Mystery Novel?

If you’re writing a mystery novel, one of the first things you must decide is how many suspects you will have. Too few and the reader might not be engaged; too many and it might be confusing. So, what’s the sweet spot? Let’s look at a few factors that can help you determine the answer.

The Number of Suspects Should Fit The Length of Your Book

One consideration is the length of your book. A shorter book will require fewer suspects because there isn’t as much space to develop multiple characters. Conversely, a longer book can support more suspects because you’ll have more room to flesh out their motivations and backstories.

Consider The Reader’s Ability to Keep Track of Multiple Characters

Another factor to consider is whether your readers can keep track of multiple characters. If you’re writing for a younger audience, they might be unable to follow along if there are too many suspects. In that case, it would be better to stick with just one or two. However, if you’re writing for an adult audience, they’ll likely be able to handle more complexity.

Think About What You Want The Solution To Be

Finally, think about what kind of solution you want for your mystery. If you want it to be something the reader could reasonably guess, then having fewer suspects would probably be best. However, if you want the solution to come completely out of left field, having more suspects can help achieve that goal.

Mystery Writers to Study

  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his iconic sleuth Sherlock Holmes
  • The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg