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A memorable murder is essential for a memorable murder mystery. However, readers don’t turn the pages because they care about an unfortunate corpse. They want to help the cool kids solve the mystery.

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So, in a murder mystery, when should the corpse be found? The quick answer is “as soon as possible.” However, there are two rules you must respect…

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This is a great video about a tourist visiting Thailand (James aka Oliver Smith) who loses his VISA. Ultimately, the story is about making judgments and making friends, with some rock throwing at a truck, the kindness of a pretty girl buying drinks, and whole town looking for his lost bag with lanterns in the middle of the night.

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Hey JC,

How does this sound for a kick ass opening sentence for my book: “The terrified onlookers huddled together beyond the outlying perimeter fence and looked up at the treacherous military drones pointed down at them, operated by a government that was now corrupt and malevolent.”

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I just finished reading a mystery novel in which a wife was pushed over the side of a cliff while trying to reconcile with her estranged husband. The husband was the obvious suspect, but in the end it turned out to be her jealous, wheelchair-bound sister who actually committed the crime. I can’t even begin to tell you how much this frustrated me.

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Dear Mr. Gatlin,

I conducted a very unscientific poll . . . however, I have a manuscript which is over 75,000 words and nowhere near its conclusion. What kind of experience in selling/marketing do expect I would have with a 100,000 – 150,000 word ebook? According to my poll, shorter is always better.

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Are you going to a writer’s conference?

I recently wrote an article about what to do if you’re going to a writer’s conference. However, there are some things you really shouldn’t do, as well. It always amazes me what some people do. Don’t be one of these people:

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Hey JC,

I read your post about Seven Archetypes to Create a ViIlain and I want to ask you a question. One of my antagonists is not quite out there evil, unlike a lot of antagonists in books where you know right off they’re evil (e.g. Cruella de Vil. Darth Vader. Hannibal Lector. It was obvious that they were evil from the very beginning) but I want the reader to think, “I don’t know what it is, however I don’t quite trust her”. Any suggestions on how to write such a character? Just to give an example of what I’m talking about, if anyone saw the original Friday The 13th, when you first see Mrs. Voorhees she does not seem like an antagonist until she talks about her son, Jason.

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Like any good game, there are rules to writing a good mystery. The author challenges the reader to solve the crime before the detective. The reader expects there to be clues leading to the correct answer, and trusts that everything will come together in the end. So, for the author to play fair, these rules must be followed.

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Dear JC,

Just curious, but do you ever think you’re really not that good and should probably just quit? I spend a year of my life writing a book, rewriting it, getting it edited, then publishing. Just so nothing happens. I feel like I’m just plugging away in a vacuum and watching a sale pop up every few weeks. And don’t even get me started on the rentals and returns. Urrrgggghhhhh!

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