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When you start to write a detective story, you need to take seven steps to start your investigation. The steps you take, depend on what kind of investigator your main character is. In general, you will find these seven steps in almost every detective story you read.

How your detective goes about these strategies, depends on what kind of detective they are. Your detective can be a policeman, an amateur, a psychic, a computer hacker, a private investigator, a family member, someone who is falsely implicated and wants to clear their name or a superman with super strength. Each of these characters have their own way and means to investigate. But all of them will have to take these seven steps.

The 7 steps of your detective story

  1. Your detective has to visit the crime scene to investigate and find clues. These clues will lead to new information needed to investigate.
  2. Interview witnesses. They will have more information that is necessary to solve the crime.
  3. Interview suspects. The suspects will probably lie and deceive you or ‘forget to mention’ important things or lead you to false clues (red herrings).
  4. Research the victim’s life. Who were their enemies, friends, lovers, family?
  5. Research places where the victim liked to go. Search their house or work place for relevant clues.
  6. Check the social media if it exists in your story world. What happened on their Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn? Did the victim receive threats or get into fights there?
  7. If your investigator is a private detective, interview the client. Why do they want to hire you? What is their stake in the story?

Bonus tip

Stake out suspects. Follow them around, watch what they’re doing, where they’re going and whom they are talking to. You can find out about the relationships the suspects have by following them throughout the story.

Every clue takes your investigator to the next one in your detective story. There are ways to make your story more interesting and fun to read. Make your reader guess which suspects tell the truth and which of them lie. Take the detective to colourful places and put them in danger. Think about an extra story line to add more interest to the detective story, for example a physical or romantical attraction of your detective to one of the suspects.

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