Are you writing cracker-bland stories that readers only nibble? What defines a story that readers gulp down whole, beg for more before the first even digests? Characters, plot, climax and something else. Learn to write gulp-down-whole stories. A detective story is a branch of mystery fiction with more definitive parameters. Here's how to write stellar detective fiction.
-Write what you know. If you grew up in Michigan in the 1960's or Mozambique in the 1940's, write to that specific knowledge. If you were in a particular culture or religion, use that too.
-Choose a time period and locale: You can set your story in any time period or place, as long as you know enough about it to make your writing credible.
-Choose a primary setting. Where did the whodunit take place? An abandoned mental hospital, a disused school, onboard a ship, in an old lady's ancestral home: tie it to your locale and envision the details. Be precise, especially as the setting affects the mystery.
-Create a detective: Depending on your setting, match an appropriate person. Your detective can be of any age, strata of society, occupation or nationality.
-Determine how your detective will interact with official authorities. Is he a policeman? Does she solve mysteries as a hobby, but assist with investigations? Maybe he hasn't always been on the side of justice. Father Brown's friend Flambeau was once the greatest jewel thief in Europe. Perhaps your detective operates separately from public investigators or is too young to work professionally. Your detective may have a different occupation altogether: librarian, pharmacist, garbage man (I'll bet a trash collector sees lots of dirty secrets).
-Frame the crime: It may involve a celebrated murder, art theft or a simple local incident that affects only certain people. Maybe it's just an odd occurrence that unravels a larger problem. Outline and sequence the problem. Create a timetable for personal reference and draw a map if necessary. These become the plot.
-People the story. Who are the dramatis personae? Fill in characters, witnesses, suspects, accessories and assistants. Perhaps it's a airplane crew, or members of a club or a family in which the crime occurs.
-Scatter some clues. Toss in details that a witness may notice but not understand. General clues are fine, but try to spice them up (tire marks from certain vehicle, unique food). At the same time, don't make them so complicated that only an expert would understand them.
-Identify the MMO: Every crime is based motive, method and opportunity. The motive is the reason a character might have for committing a crime (money, jealousy). The method is how the crime committed (in the old garage with a tire iron). The opportunity means who was available to have committed the crime.
-Identify the alibis (or lack thereof) for characters: According to the timetable, decide who was where and when at the time the problem occurred or crime was committed.
-Write a climax: Generally, something happens which brings all the events together. It's usually an event of some drama with some element of surprise. You might include some danger or disaster. It is this event that ultimately explains the mystery.
-Write your denouement: This is the resolution of the mystery. This is when secrets come out and loose ends are wrapped up. Some details will reveal themselves and your detective can articulate the rest: the what, who, when, where, how and why.
-Summarize with a short conclusion. Here is the final outcome where we part company with the detective. You might even give a few hints about her next adventures,
Be sure to read a few detective stories for inspiration.