When I first started crafting novels and planning out the stories I was going to tell through my writing I often struggled to keep a secret. I wanted to write the best whodunit story but I struggled to keep the secret. I found myself writing a killer introduction with a perfect description of the crime. In this prologue or first chapter, I would have no problem keeping the secret. Once I started telling the story, I was so excited about sharing my story with my readers that I often wanted to solve the mystery for them. I simply could not keep a secret.

Surely I'm not the only one struggling with this. Writing your own mystery story can be difficult, especially if you're the kind of person who watches crime shows with the goal of solving the crime before they reveal who did it. I found myself struggling with this kind of scenario as I was trying to write my book. After a conversation with a neighbor, I realized that I could just write my stories backward. If I revealed who the killer was in the first chapter, I still had plenty of things that I had to work through for the story to make sense.

Let your readers know your characters

Even though I wanted to reveal who the killer was in the first chapter, there are still many questions that have to be answered.

Who was the victim? Why was this victim killed? Why was it that particular victim he chose for the killing? Was there a connection between the two? Was it an assassination for hire?

There were so many things that I could write about to make a great story come to life. It was one of those situations where I felt that I could tell a great story if I could just let my readers get close to my characters.

I needed to develop these characters and make them relatable so my readers understood why this person was a victim of a crime and understand why my killer chose to kill this person. It wasn't about creating sympathy for the victim or hate for the villain but more about creating a bond between the people who picked up my book and the beloved characters that I had worked so hard on.

It's all about why

As I'm writing my books I'm always drawn to the question of why. Why would someone commit a crime and why would someone choose to purposely kill someone else? Throughout writing, I've often found that motivation for murder is a great story to tell. Even if I choose to reveal my killer in the first chapter, I still have so much more to tell. It won't be a true murder mystery as such because fans of the book already know the killer but could be a great psychological novel where readers would learn what could turn a regular average Joe into a serial killer.

Have you ever tried to write a book backward? How did that work out for you?