Class: Hallie Ephron - Plotting a Mystery Novel: The Secret's in the Secrets

A Special Mystery Writers Conference 2024 Pre-Conference Class

Plotting a Mystery Novel:
The Secret's in the Secrets

Friday July 19th, 9:00 – 11:30 am PT

Corte Madera in-person class



An essential truth about mystery novels is that characters harbor secrets. They lie, and not always to hide their own guilt. In this workshop we'll outline the overall structure of a mystery novel, and how to use the revelation of secrets to fuel the plot. Participants will examine their own work in progress to identify how secrets are (and can be) harnessed to keep readers engaged, enthralled, and guessing.


Topics covered will include:

Understanding how secrets and lies fuel a mystery

Misdirection: Using secrets to implicate, exonerate, and motivate

The protagonist’s secrets

The victim’s secrets

The villain's secrets

The role of backstory and how to use it to reveal secrets

Revealing secrets strategically to make readers keep turning pages

The all important POV narrator decisions (first person, third person, multiple)


New York Times bestselling author Hallie Ephron, Edgar Award finalist and five-time finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark Award, writes books she hopes readers can’t put down. Her newest suspense novel, Careful What You Wish For, with its echoes of Marie Kondo life-changing decluttering tips, explores the relationships built by professional organizers and their clients — showing just how easily the lines between professional and personal can be blurred.


Read more about the 2024 Mystery Writers Conference here.



Book Passage Corte Madera
51 Tamal Vista blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925