Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Discover this middle-grade mystery by Dana Rongione

The Delaware Detectives
by Dana Rongione
Publisher: A Word Fitly Spoken Press
Genre: Middle-grade Mystery
Release Date: March 2012

ABOUT the Book:

What do the following have in common: a muntjac deer, a toilet, and a hairless cat? They are three key factors in uncovering a treasure that may or may not exist. But for Abby and Jamie Patterson, these items are essential ingredients to fulfilling their grandfather's greatest desire. Is the fortune real, or are the siblings following a path to nowhere as set down by an eccentric old woman? The quest is on, and time is running out.

Guest Blog Post
The Missing Key in Mystery Manuscripts
by Dana Rongione

Who doesn't love a good mystery?  The intrigue.  The suspense.  The carefully woven webs of uncertainty.  There's something about a mystery that causes even the least avid reader to desire to do nothing more than curl up on the couch and devour every word.  The fascination of feeling like we are part of the story compels us to take an active part in uncovering the truth and solving the mystery.

When the idea came to me to write my first fiction book, The Delaware Detectives, I thought, Sure, why not?  After all, writing a mystery is just like writing any other book or story.  Right?  Wrong!  Once I began the planning process, I realized my error.  The act of writing a mystery is much more complex than that of any other fictional piece, and the main reason is that you have to truly think "outside the box".  With a fantasy novel, things can be as far-fetched as you like.  It's fantasy.  It doesn't have to be real or to make sense.  The same cannot be said of a mystery.  A mystery must be logical, and in the end, all the facts must add up.  Easily said, but not so easily done.  When planning a mystery novel, it is imperative to follow a few rules.

1. Determine the type of mystery you want to write. 

Yes, there is more than one type of mystery.  There are crime mysteries, hard-boiled mysteries, cozy mysteries, sleuth mysteries, romantic suspense mysteries and much more.  Which one are you interested in writing?  The type of mystery you choose will impact many things in your novel, such as the amount of violence and gore, the setting, the characters and other important factors.

2. Establish the basic plot of your story.

As you would with any other type of novel, you must have a basic outline for your plot.  Now, when I say "outline", I don't necessarily mean Roman numerals followed by capital letters followed by numbers and so on (although you can certainly do that if it works for you).  Rather, I am talking about having an idea of what will happen in your story.  Here's an example:  Nathan is raking his backyard when he uncovers a jewelry box that had been buried years ago.  The jewelry box is empty except for a note that bears only one word:  TUNNELS.  Nathan and his friend, Jeremy, go around the neighborhood,  asking all their elderly neighbors information about who originally owned Nathan's house and if there were any tunnels nearby.  The two friends finally find the tunnels and uncover a treasure chest filled with gold and jewels.

Do you see how vague the description is?  That's okay.  You can fill in the "meat" later.  For now, it's important to plan out where your story is going and how your characters will arrive at the final destination.  Now things get really interesting.

3. Begin at the end.

In order for your story to arrive at its destination, you have to first determine what that destination will be.  In the case of the scenario above, the final destination is the treasure chest in the tunnels, but your plans can't stop there.  Where are the tunnels?  Where exactly in the tunnels is the chest?  How did the chest get there?  Who put it there?  Why did they put it there?  Before you begin writing your book, you need to already have the answers to all of these questions and more.  Only by understanding the end of your book will you be able to adequately plan the beginning and middle.  If you want a good mystery, you must think backward.

4. Create and place your clues into your plot outline.

Now that you know where your story will end, you have to figure out a way to get your characters (and your readers) to that point.  In the above scenario, the first clue is already established--the note found in the jewelry box--but that can't be the only hint you give.  How exactly do the boys find the tunnels?  Do the neighbors know about the tunnels?  How will the characters determine who hid the treasure and their motive behind hiding it?  There must be clues, some obvious and some not-so-obvious, embedded throughout the story.

5. Invent a few red herrings.

You've already provided your characters (and readers) with quality clues to solve the mystery.  Now it's time to throw them off track.  A red herring is a clue that is meant to mislead.  It gives accurate information, but it gives it in such a way as to redirect the reader's focus from the main clue trail.  The number of red herrings you include depends largely on the age of your readers.  For young readers, you'll want to keep it down to one or two, but for older readers, you can easily throw in five or more.  The key is to get your reader saying, "Aha, I knew it!" and then find out they were mistaken.

Once you've completed these five steps, you can then treat your mystery novel like any other novel.  Develop your plot to fill in the holes and to move your story forward.  Create realistic characters that fit the age level of your readers.  Write your story, striving to include realistic dialogue and adequate description.  Remember:  show, don't tell.  And then, write!  Tell your story, and allow your characters to come alive on the page.  When you're done, walk away for a while, and take a break.  You've earned it!  From there, the editing process begins, but that's a topic for another article.

Believe it or not, a mystery can be as fun to write as it can be to read, but only if you follow the guidelines set forth above.  Otherwise, you'll find yourself unsure how to transition from one point to the next, how to arrive at the concluding chapter, and staring at a manuscript full of plot holes and logical errors.  Don't let your mystery unravel before it's even begun.

Link to Tour on Main Site -  http://www.virtualbooktourcafe.com/3/post/2012/04/the-delaware-detective-by-dana-rongione.html

Excerpts : An inside look of the book can be viewed on the Amazon sales page:  http://www.amazon.com/The-Delaware-Detectives-Dana-Rongione/dp/1470007460/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1334771853&sr=8-2

About the Author:

Dana Rongione:
Hi! My name is Dana Rongione. (Yes, I know that's a mouthful.) I live in Greenville, SC with my husband, Jason, and my two dogs, Tippy and Mitch.

Having been a Christian for nearly 28 years, I know what it is like to experience both joy in the journey and weariness in well-doing. Currently self-employed as a writer and speaker, I struggle (like many other Christians) to balance the demands of work, family, church, health, chores, etc.

I enjoy all types of writing, but my true joy lies in writing devotionals that will encourage and uplift the weak and weary Christian. This blog, A Word Fitly Spoken, is currently read in over 15 different countries, allowing me the opportunity to spread the message of hope and joy throughout the world. I also have another blog, Song of the Day, that offers the truth of the Word in song.

I currently have three published devotionals and numerous articles in magazines and e-zines across the country. I am available to speak at local ladies' meetings or writers' workshops. You can find out more about me and my ministry by visiting my website at DanaRongione.com.



Patti Hultstrand said...

Want to thank Dana for being our guest today and to encourage my readers to give voice to their thoughts through your comments here. You may win a prize for doing so.

Patti Hultstrand

Dana Rongione said...

Thank you, Patti, for having me!

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