Hints of Mystery

This post, in a shorter form, was originally written for K.S. Manning’s blog.

One of the things I experimented with while writing The Duke and the Pirate Queen was a mystery plot. Throughout the story, I interspersed questions that weren’t immediately answered. For example, the heroine, Imena, overhears fragments of what might be a plot against the Duke Maxime. Throughout the novel, as Imena is trying to protect him against that threat, another character, Sylvie, is elsewhere, trying to track down the threat’s source.

Sylvie’s detective work naturally includes seducing information from an attractive stranger. I was thus able to get more information about the mystery plot to the reader while still keeping up the novel’s erotic content.

There were some difficulties. I’d never tried to write a “real” mystery before. Combined with the romance plot, and the erotic plot that was part of that, and the fantasy worldbuilding, I got in a bit over my head. Looking back, I should have made the mystery simpler.

I got around the issue of a too-complex mystery because I had to do so; I was on deadline. That can be a great spur to one’s creativity! I ended up relying on the time-honored technique of telling rather than showing. Sometimes, telling is what you need. I don’t think it’s a bad technique, so long as you make it interesting. Tell using dialogue between intriguing characters. Tell while keeping the reader curious. Tell only enough to keep the mystery alive.

About Victoria Janssen

Victoria Janssen’s first erotic novel, The Duchess, Her Maid, The Groom and Their Lover (Harlequin Spice, December 2008), was translated into French and German. Her second Spice novel, The Moonlight Mistress (December 2009), was translated into Italian and nominated for a RT Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Award. Her third novel is The Duke & The Pirate Queen (December 2010). She has also published erotic short stories as Elspeth Potter. Her blog features professional writing and marketing tips, genre discussion, book reviews, and occasional author interviews.
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