Twenty Rules for Writing Detective Stories By S.S. Van Dine

I’ve seen these rules before and found them again here. I prefer mystery novels that follow them, in addition to my own rules(bold):

In 1936, S.S. Van Dine (author of the Philo Vance mysteries) published an article titled «Twenty Rules for Writing Detective Stories.» Obviously, a lot has changed since then — but maybe not as much as we might think. The rules are: Les videre

A poet writing a novel?

It was a lot of work to make my poems ready to be published; re-writing, finding synonymes, cutting away dead meat. But after all, writing poems comes kind of easy to me. Writing pros on the other hand, now that’s another story.

At the moment I’ve got several writing projects, among others a mystery novel and a childrens book. I’ve written some erotic short stories and like it. So I thought that it wouldn’t be so difficult writing in another genre with strict rules. Well, it seems I’m too good at keeping it short.

After finally finding a good plot and a main character I can live with (after all, you live a long time with the caracters of a novel while writing it), I started writing. Then I stopped and read it through. I discovered that if I kept focusing on the plot, there would never be a novel, maybe a very short short story. And that would be fine if this was the material of a short story, but it’s not. To make it good, I need to make it long, to give the characters some space to do what they’re supposed to do.

How do you do that? The «detective» needs to be brought astray. He must believe some things that turn out not to be true. I find that very hard.

Initially I had my eyes on a competition for the best mystery novel, where the deadline are in november this year. I now realize that I’ll never make it in time, and that’s a shame, cause I’ have good use of the money.

I’m not giving up this easily of course. I never did with my poems. After all I do have a good plot and some interesting, complex characters. I can’t just throw that away. But it will take me more than a year to finish it, that’s for sure. I’d be happy for any advice, comments or ideas!