Ingredients of a dual-timeline mystery

My newest novel, The Admiral’s Spouse, is a thriller written in two time durations – 2014 and the early twentieth century. I’d constructed a thriller earlier than when writing Time and Remorse, and had developed a way to maintain observe of the clues and crimson herrings which are important to the style. Add to that the necessity to hold observe of two fundamental characters and their separate timelines and also you may be inclined to tear your hair out infrequently.

Right here’s a couple of suggestions to bear in mind:

Plot is every thing. It’s a must to have an amazing story; one which engages readers from the outset providing twists and turns and surprising developments. For instance, a personality your readers anticipate to be the perpetrator dies earlier than the novel ends. Or maybe your heroine loses the very clue that promised to unravel the thriller or her lover is revealed to be working towards her.

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Pacing should be excessive. Thriller lovers anticipate the story to construct momentum after which for the motion – these twists and turns – to stay in excessive gear. And there should be motion! An excessive amount of inside musing will sluggish the story down. The hero must be on the transfer with some kind of journey occurring whereas the thriller unfolds.

Rigidity has to construct and construct. Your heroine(s) should expertise hazard and problem. Conflicts and useless ends are important. A clue or two – ones that readers suppose are significant – ought to transform insignificant. 

Characters can’t be boring. They want angst of their lives, private dilemmas and demons and, like characters in any good novel, they should change through the story. Their motivation for taking up the thriller should be clear.

The crime or triggering occasion has to happen early within the story. The sleuth and perpetrator additionally have to be launched early and the crime must be plausible. No sluggish construct up whereas readers get to know your characters. No intensive scene setting or backstory both.

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The thriller should problem most readers. Your story will fall flat if it’s too simple to determine. Readers ought to marvel who did it for a very long time. Readers ought to suspect somebody solely to seek out that particular person had nothing to do with the crime. And but, the final word rationalization for why the perpetrator has carried out the crime must be easy.

Wait so long as potential earlier than revealing the perpetrator. The reveal is your readers’ final satisfaction. They don’t need loads of story decision after that happens.

The perpetrator must be punished. Your readers anticipate justice and shall be dissatisfied if that doesn’t happen.

Not surprisingly, I reconstructed the plot a number of occasions and wrote many drafts earlier than being glad that The Admiral’s Spouse hung collectively as a thriller and a dual-timeline story. You’ll need to be the decide as to how properly it satisfies these standards 🙂

For extra on mysteries, try 8 Tips about Writing Twin-Timeline Mysteries. For extra on dual-timeline tales, try an article with recommendation from well-known writer Susanna Kearsley titled Weaving the Twin-Stranded Storyline.


M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel is THE ADMIRAL’S WIFE, a dual timeline set in Hong Kong. Mary’s other novels, PARIS IN RUINS, TIME AND REGRET, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from AmazonNookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads or on her web site