Wednesday, November 1, 2017


Writing a Mystery Series / Mike Martin @mike54martin #atangledweb

Writing a Mystery Series

By Mike Martin

In some ways it’s easy to write a series. You already have a frame in which to sketch your story. Usually, that means you have a general location or part of the country and you have a cadre of characters that accompany the main character on his or her journey. There’s a familiarity, a comfort in that. It makes both the writer, and hopefully the readers, want to come right in, sit in that nice, comfy chair and slide into the story.

I always have that feeling when I start a new Sgt. Windflower Mystery. Like I’m home. Then I start writing and all the characters come streaming into my head at once. It’s exhilarating and frightening at the same time as my brain tries to process both the story that is starting to unfold, and all of the voices of the characters who are asking for my attention. Sometimes it feels like the old woman in the shoe. So many characters, I really don’t know what to do. And mostly I just feel stressed and crazy.

That’s when I usually go for a walk. I need the exercise, but more importantly it clears my head so that I can see where all the pieces, and not just the dead bodies fit. The most important thing about a mystery, or any fiction writing, is the story, the plot. The walk helps quiet down the chorus in my head so I can at least keep the story straight. Once that is clear, at least to me, I can allow the character development to continue. But I’m still not running the show. The characters ‘speak’ to me and I try and fit them into the story at the appropriate time and place. It doesn’t always work, but that’s rule number one. The story comes first and the characters have to shut up long enough so that I can set the scene for them to work their magic.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the characters in the Sgt. Windflower Mystery series. They allow me to not just write a crime solving mystery story, but to have depth of emotion and feeling that makes it human, and I hope more interesting. I know that my readers feel the same way because they tell me that they get worried about Shelia and Windflower when I let him stray too far from his kind and open heart. Just to be clear again, I don’t steer Windflower, I just help point him in the right direction.

Mike Martin was born in Newfoundland on the East Coast of Canada and now lives and works in Ottawa, Ontario. He is a longtime freelance writer and his articles and essays have appeared in newspapers, magazines and online across Canada as well as in the United States and New Zealand. He is the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People and has written a number of short stories that have published in various publications including Canadian Stories and Downhome magazine.
The Walker on the Cape was his first full fiction book and the premiere of the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series. Other books in the series include The Body on the T, Beneath the Surface, A Twist of Fortune and A Long Ways from Home.

A Long Ways from Home was shortlisted for the 2017 Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award as the best light mystery of the year. A Tangled Web is the newest book in the series.



About the Book:

Life is good for Sgt. Wind­flower in Grand Bank, Newfoundland. But something’s missing from the Mountie’s life. Actually, a lot of things go missing, including a little girl and supplies from the new factory. It’s Windflower’s job to unravel the tangled web of murder, deceit and an accidental kidnapping that threatens to engulf this sleepy little town and destroy those closest to him. But there’s always good food, good friends and the love of a great woman to make everything better in the end.

A TANGLED WEB is available at Amazon.

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