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31 Mystery Writing Prompts to Inspire Your Next Novel

Do you love writing mysteries? Are you looking for a little inspiration to get your creative juices flowing? If so, you’re in luck! This blog post will provide 31 mystery writing prompts to help get you started. These prompts will help you develop ideas for plots, characters, and settings. So what are you waiting for? Get started today!

31 Mystery Writing Prompts

1. An amateur detective finds herself caught up in an elaborate conspiracy after stumbling upon a mysterious key.

2. A wealthy banker hires a private investigator to track down his missing daughter, who seems to have disappeared without a trace.

3. When the CEO of a major company is found dead in his office, the police suspect that he was murdered by one of his employees. But as they dig deeper, they discover things are not quite what they seem.

4. An intrepid journalist sets out to uncover the truth behind a series of grisly murders that have plagued the city for years, but what he discovers is more terrifying than he could ever have imagined.

5. After her grandmother passes away, a young woman inherits an old Victorian mansion shrouded in mystery for decades. As she explores the house, she discovers strange and unsettling secrets lurking in its shadows.

6. When an enigmatic stranger appears at her doorstep promising answers to all of her questions, a young woman decides to take him up on his offer and embark on a dark and dangerous journey into the unknown.

7. As he investigates the brutal murder of his best friend, a retired cop slowly begins to unravel a sinister conspiracy that runs far deeper than anyone ever suspected.

8. When two children disappear from their suburban neighborhood without a trace, everyone assumes that it’s just another case of local kids running away from home – until one of them resurfaces with horrifying details about what happened during their time in captivity.

9. A secret society with ties to organized crime sets out on a twisted quest to eliminate a man they consider a threat to their continued existence.

10. When a beautiful young woman is found brutally murdered, the police are baffled when the only clues they discover are cryptic notes left by the killer at the crime scene.

11. When a journalist begins investigating a seemingly random murder, he discovers it’s the tip of the iceberg of a much bigger conspiracy.

12. A CIA agent discovers that a mysterious and well-respected philanthropist is using his charity to finance a secret operation that results in the death of dozens of innocent people.

13. A desperate woman agrees to help a couple of criminals break into a high-security lab in exchange for a large sum of money. However, the goal isn’t to steal anything but to hide valuable evidence that could incriminate their employer.

14. A group of death row inmates makes a surprising discovery about the nature of reality as they await their execution.

15. A curious detective investigates the murder of an unpopular television host with a long list of enemies.

16. When a young girl is abducted from a busy city street, the police must work quickly to track down her abductors before it’s too late.

17. When a prominent scientist suddenly goes missing, the police discover that he’s been conducting secret experiments on a dangerous hallucinogen that induces violent behavior.

18. A private detective investigates the murder of a woman whose body was found in her apartment with her mouth sewn shut.

19. A teenage girl gets caught up in the world of drug trafficking after she is swept off her feet by an older, mysterious stranger.

20. A jewelry store owner finds herself entangled in a web of mystery after a suspicious man with a tattoo on his right wrist walks into her store to sell an unusual antique ring.

21. A man awakens after being in a coma for several months to discover that he is the only survivor of a horrible accident that claimed everyone else’s lives on board his flight. As he struggles to deal with his loss, he begins to have eerie visions hinting at a supernatural force at work.

22. A detective is called in to investigate the murder of a famous crime novelist with a reputation for creating intricate puzzles.

23. After an elderly woman is found dead in the back of a diner, a police investigation reveals that she was the mother of a notorious serial killer who was executed years ago.

24. When a successful author goes missing, a journalist sets out to track her down and discover how her disappearance is connected to her most recent book.

25. When a well-known college professor gets wind of a scandalous rumor about one of his star students, he decides to dig deeper but unexpectedly uncovers a web of lies and deception that could put his life in danger.

26. A computer programmer is given the daunting task of overseeing the digitization of an old library but discovers a mysterious code hidden within the pages of one of the books.

27. A woman disappears while shopping in a crowded mall. When her body is discovered floating in the river, the police begin to suspect that she was the victim of a twisted serial killer.

28. After a young man is viciously attacked on the street in broad daylight, the police are baffled when they can’t find any clues to help them track down the person responsible.

29. A reporter receives a video clip from an anonymous source that depicts a grisly murder, but not everything is as it seems.

30. A renowned psychiatrist is called in to examine a young man who claims to have been taken aboard a UFO by aliens who erased his memory and performed various experiments on him.

31. A group of teenagers attempts to use the internet to track down a long-lost relative but stumble upon a bizarre conspiracy known only as “The Red Eye.”

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Write Mystery and Suspense?

The best mystery and suspense novels are the ones that keep readers guessing until the very end. If you’re a writer who wants to create this type of intrigue in your own stories, there are a few things you’ll need to do.

Create Believable Characters
Creating believable characters is one of the most important elements of writing mystery and suspense. Your readers need to be able to connect with your protagonist on some level for them to care about what happens to them. They also need to trust that the protagonist can escape whatever situation they find themselves in. To create believable characters, start by giving them distinct personalities and flaws. Then, put them in realistic situations and see how they react. Would they be able to think fast enough to come up with a clever plan? Or would they crumble under the pressure?

Craft Impossible Situations
Another key element of writing mystery and suspense is crafting impossible situations. The best way to do this is to take an ordinary situation and add a twist. For example, let’s say your protagonist is going on a date with someone they met online. They seem nice enough, so your protagonist decides to go to their apartment for dinner. Once they arrive, however, it becomes clear that their date has other plans… Now you’ve got an ordinary situation (a date gone wrong) with a twist (the date was a madman who planned to kidnap your protagonist). This is the kind of impossible situation that will leave readers guessing until the very end.

Leave Enough Clues
If you want your readers to be able to solve the puzzle at the end of your story, you’ll need to leave enough clues along the way. However, you don’t want those clues to be too obvious, or there will be no suspense! A good way to strike the balance is by planting red herrings – false clues that lead your reader astray. This will add an extra layer of intrigue and make solving the puzzle all the more satisfying for your reader.

What Are Tropes in a Mystery?

In literature, a trope is a recurring motif that contributes to developing a story’s theme or atmosphere. In mystery fiction, tropes often add suspense, intrigue, and red herrings to keep readers guessing. Here are some of the most common tropes found in mysteries:

The Secluded Mansion: This trope usually features an ancient, dilapidated mansion set back from the road, surrounded by fields or woods. The mansion is usually inhabited by a reclusive millionaire or eccentric aristocrat with a dark secret. Think “The Haunting of Hill House” or “Knives Out.”

The Locked Room Mystery: In this trope, a body is discovered in a room that has been locked from the inside. There are no signs of forced entry, and the windows are barred or otherwise inaccessible. The detective’s challenge is figuring out how the murderer could have committed the crime and escaped without being seen. One famous example of this trope is Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None.”

The Amateur Sleuth: This is probably the most common mystery trope, featuring an ordinary person who becomes embroiled in a criminal investigation. The amateur sleuth typically has some kind of connection to the victim or the murderer, which gives them extra incentive to crack the case. While professional detectives like Sherlock Holmes tend to be more aloof and cerebral, amateur sleuths are often more emotional and relatable. Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple is probably the most famous example of an amateur sleuth.

How Do You Write Cozy Mystery?

Many readers enjoy a good mystery, but some prefer their mysteries to be cozier. Cozy mysteries are light-hearted and often humorous, with little violence or sexual content. They frequently take place in small towns or villages, and the amateur sleuth is usually someone who stumbles upon the crime while going about their everyday life. If you’re thinking of writing a cozy mystery, here are a few tips to get you started.

Create an Engaging Amateur Sleuth
The amateur sleuth is the heart of the cozy mystery, so it’s important to ensure they are someone readers will want to follow along with on their adventures. Think about what makes your favorite fictional detectives so engaging, and try incorporating some of those qualities into your sleuth. Is your detective clever and quick-witted? Resourceful? Or maybe they know how to get themselves into (and out of) sticky situations? Whatever it is that makes them special, be sure to highlight those qualities in your writing.

Develop a Small Town or Village Setting
Cozy mysteries often occur in small towns or villages where everyone knows each other’s business. This close-knit community provides opportunities and challenges for amateur sleuths as they investigate the crime. On the one hand, it’s easier to gather information when everyone knows each other. On the other hand, nosy neighbors can make it difficult to keep secrets! Make use of this setting by humanizing it to add humor and suspense to your story.

Keep the Romance Light
While there can be a bit of romance in a cozy mystery, the investigation should always take a backseat. After all, these books are called “cozies” for a reason! The focus should be on solving the crime, not on whether or not the amateur sleuth will wind up with their dreamboat partner at the end of the book. But that doesn’t mean there can’t be any sparks between your characters! Make sure they don’t get in the way of solving the mystery.