Act 1: You Must Commit to the Crime!

Undertaking the Investigation: Commit to the investigation a component of an Act 1 beat that is just as it seems. Your sleuth—whether he’s a cigar-smoking lieutenant in the LAPD with a New York accent—MUST COMMIT to solving the crime because that’s his job. Or your sleuths—like a bunch of meddling kids in a flowered purple minivan … Read more

And HERE is the REST of the Story

January Mystery Author Birthdays: Edgar Allan Poe (Father of the Detective Novel) and Patricia Highsmith (Master of the Psychological Thriller) Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) Edgar Allan Poe was born one dark and stormy night (Actually, I don’t know if it was dark and stormy. Just seemed appropriate) January 19th, 1809, in Boston, Massachusetts, the second child of … Read more

Add Killer Mistakes Your Readers Will Love

Howcatchems and Killer Mistakes In Demystifying the Beats, we broadly define two different “types” of mysteries: Whodunits and Howcatchems. The beats for the two types of mysteries stay the same. The Howcatchem is an inverted mystery. The reader/viewer know, usually from the beginning, who committed the crime, and the villain and sleuth play a cat … Read more

Is a Big Mistake a Fast Fail?

“Commissioner, I believe you’re making a mistake here, sir…” “Don’t be ridiculous. I saw it, I tell you… There were no other witnesses.” “Columbo” A Friend in Deed (TV Episode 1974) Demystifying the Beats: Fast Fail“A Friend Indeed” (1974), is one of my favorite Columbo episodes. And it makes a great illustration for one of … Read more

Better Whittle Suspects – A Friend Indeed

Demystifying the Beats: Whittle Suspects “But there’re a couple of things that don’t add up.” “Like what?” “Well, for one thing, the fingerprints.” “Come on, come on, Columbo. There were no fingerprints!” “That’s what I mean, sir.” “Columbo” A Friend in Deed (TV Episode 1974) “A Friend Indeed,” is one of my favorite Columbo episodes. … Read more