One of the things I try to remember as I write is that everyone loves a good mystery.
Which is sort of funny to think about if you knew me – I personally don’t like to read mystery books or whodunits. I can appreciate the craftsmanship, but I never have the patience to put clues together and I end up skipping to the end every time.
However, I do love when a mystery presents itself in a book that’s primarily about other things, like romance, or friendship or teenage wizards or something. And as a writer, it’s always awesome when I can surprise the hell out of my readers (and occasionally, myself) with a reveal or a plot twist or a series of clues that finally fit together with that final piece in place.
And that, my friends, is where mystery and intrigue come into play.
These are two different concepts, and not a lot of people realize that when they start writing. I know I didn’t. To put it into layman’s terms, mystery is when the author withholds something from the reader. Intrigue is when one character withholds something from another.
We, the audience, are not privy to the first and it’s as big a shock to us as it is to whoever it’s being revealed to. The second we saw coming, and are eagerly awaiting the reaction of whomever it is that’s getting that information, because we know their response is going to determine where this story goes.
If you find yourself getting bogged down and bored in your manuscript, think about the concepts of mystery and intrigue – you may be able to use on or the other to move things along, or deepen a plotline, or add an interesting new twist.