2. Create your “hook.” A hook is what sets your series apart from others. It can be an occupation for your sleuth like librarian, caterer, bookseller, etc. Or your hook can revolve around a hobby—knitting, scrapbooking, needlework, etc.
3. Pick your victim. This is the fun part! Is there someone you would like to kill on paper? A disagreeable co-worker or an annoying neighbor? Be careful to change names and appearances but you can certainly borrow their irritating or despicable traits and make them your victim’s own.
4. Pick your killer. Why does this person hate the victim enough to kill? They need a good motive for the crime. They can be a decent, upstanding citizen on the outside but evil on the inside.
5. Decide on a murder method. Now that you have your killer, what would be a likely murder weapon? A gun or knife? Poison? The proverbial blow to the head with a blunt object? Something exotic like a snake bite?
6. Create your amateur sleuth. You’ll already know a little bit about this person once you’ve created your hook but now is the time to flesh them out. Make them intelligent, inquisitive and clever.
7. Gather a group of suspects together. Hide your killer among a number of people who also had reason to wish the victim dead. One-by-one your sleuth uncovers their alibis until the only one left standing is the murderer.
8. Plot clues and red-herrings. Clues lead your sleuth closer to the killer while red herrings send her on a wild goose chase.
9. Add a touch of romance. Create a love interest for your sleuth. Better yet, create two or more! When she’s not busy tracking down suspects, she’ll be busy weighing the relative merits of each of the men in her life.
10. Write the book! And have fun immersing yourself in this idyllic world where justice always triumphs in the end.