A woman in her late 40s with straight brown hair, wearing a green jacket, sitting in a tree.




Diana Renn is the author of three YA mysteries: Tokyo Heist, Latitude Zero, and Blue Voyage (all published by Viking / Penguin) and a collaboratively written adult mystery, False Idols (published by Realm / Adaptive Books). Her newest novel, Trouble at Turtle Pond, a middle grade mystery about a self-appointed team of young wildlife rangers who try to save local turtles from poachers, will be published by Fitzroy Books / Regal House on April 5, 2022. Diana has taught writing workshops at GrubStreet and elsewhere and works as a book coach and freelance editor specializing in mystery novels. She lives in Concord, Massachusetts. Visit her online at http://dianarennbooks.com.

SESSION: The Writer as Sleuth: Mystery Novel Problems and How to Solve Them

Has something gone wrong with your mystery, but you're not sure where? Whether you are writing a traditional genre mystery or developing a mystery sub-plot, it’s easy to find yourself stuck in a plot hole, overwhelmed by decisions, or stalling out on your story. Revision can also feel overwhelming, as seemingly small adjustments can have big consequences across an intricate mystery plot. In this session, we will discuss the most common challenges mystery writers face, raising our awareness of where and how mysteries can go off track. Challenges to be analyzed include The Case of the Overcomplicated Plot, The Mystery of the Missing Clues, The Convenient Coincidence, The Murky Motive, The Trouble with Technology, The Sleuth Who Had No Stakes, and the Scooby Doo Reveal. We will then discuss how to turn these challenges into opportunities, creating more dynamic characters and plot twists that keep readers guessing. A series of guided writing exercises designed to aid decision making will help you to diagnose problems in your work-in-progress or prevent them if you are just starting out. This workshop will be helpful for writers of both adult and children’s fiction.