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 [she, her] currently writes cozy space opera for Kalikoi. The novella series A Place of Refuge begins with Finding Refuge: Telepathic warrior Talia Avi, genius engineer Miki Boudreaux, and augmented soldier Faigin Balfour fought the fascist Federated Colonies for ten years, following the charismatic dissenter Jon Churchill. Then Jon disappeared, Talia was thought dead, and Miki and Faigin struggled to take Jon’s place and stay alive. When the FC is unexpectedly upended, Talia is reunited with her friends and they are given sanctuary on the enigmatic planet Refuge. The trio of former guerillas strive to recover from lifetimes of trauma, build new lives on a planet with endless horizons, and forge tender new connections with each other.
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