Secondary Secondary English

Keeping the Reader in the Dark

When you read a mystery story, part of you is desperate to know what the answer is, but part of you doesn’t want to know YET. This is because there is pleasure in finding the clues, experiencing the tension and enjoying the build-up to the TTWJend.

As a writer of mystery stories I have to provide a mystery with a believable solution and I have to give the readers some hints to this solution along the way. I have to keep them interested.

In The Trouble With Jack, a boy has disappeared and his girlfriend, Jodie, is still grieving for him a year later. Things start to happen in the village where they live – things that suggest he might not be dead. Jodie and his friends are disturbed and upset.

What has happened to Jack? That’s what I want the reader to ask throughout this story.

There must be twists and turns. Jodie falls asleep in her home and hears Jack’s special ring tone. No one else had it but him. His cycling jacket is seen with his racing name on it. Two of his friends talk about seeing strange things.

Jodie decides to talk to someone else that Jack was close to, his brother, Micky. But Micky has his own secrets.

When writing these stories I always have to remember that the characters must be rounded and believable. So Jodie likes to make jewellery and has ambitions to open a stall. This shows that she’s got energy and imagination. Jack loved cycling and racing on the moors on his bike. He was a dare devil and didn’t take safety seriously. It’s these things that give our characters depth. So when the mystery is finally revealed, we feel something for them. We are sad or happy or relieved. That’s what a good mystery story should give to a reader.

By Anne Cassidy

Anne Cassidy lived in London for most of her life. She was a teacher for twenty years. In 1989 she staAnne-Cassidy-publicity-photorted writing books for teenagers. Her first book was published in 1991 and since then she has published over forty books, thirty of which have been teen novels. She writes crime fiction and is best known for her book LOOKING FOR JJ, which was short-listed for the Whitbread Award 2004 and the Carnegie Medal 2005. She has one son and currently lives in Essex. Her recent books are The Murder Notebooks (Bloomsbury) and Finding Jennifer Jones (HotKey).

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