I’m on a panel this weekend dealing with that question and it occurred to me that I should ask a bunch of people interested in crime fiction to see what they think.

So why do we write mysteries?

Me: I like the chase. I like the physical aspect of being on the run from the villain. There’s nothing quite like the pressure of physical and mental danger to bring out the best or worst in our characters. How will they measure up? Testing their limits.

I have an interest in guns and explosions and shoot-outs.

I wanted to write a series. In a genre that allows me a lot of creative flexibility and freedom. I wanted the option to kill the hero before the end of the novel. I like angst, and I have an interest in people who don’t walk the straight and narrow.

Also, it’s what I enjoyed reading the most. And since I couldn’t quite find what I wanted to read, I had to write it myself.

BUT why do you write mysteries or suspense or any of their subgenres?

Curious,
Nadja

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I love the cat and mouse aspect of a mystery; the thrust and parry thing. My stories are primarily character-driven and mind games on both sides are quite common. I really enjoy looking at a situation from both sides (i.e., how would I feel and react if I was on the victim side and how would I feel and act if I were on the 'bad guy' side). Drawing some on memories of events and people I know and have known, all the forensic researching on how NOT to get caught, and plain old just making stuff up as I go, is great fun. It's a challenge making victim/villain (two ends of the spectrum) completely three-dimensional entities people can relate to (and without actually being a criminal, I want my readers to be able to relate in some way to my villains as well). Crimewriter
Sounds like what you really like is thrillers. When I started reading books from the adult section of the library, thrillers and suspense were cataloged as separate genres.

While I enjoy a good thriller, I prefer true mystery where I match wits with the writer to figure out whodunit. I started out reading mystery and that is now what I write. I enjoy crafting the puzzle, seeing if I can confuse my reader with a bit of literary sleight-of-hand, and making the reader go "Aha" at the end. I love learning who my characters are and why they do the things they do. My killers must have a good reason for killing (good for them) that is understandable to the reader. My killers are friends, neighbors and co-workers. Having often been surprised by the real life behavior of the people around me, I try to bring that to my stories. Motivation is what fascinates me. It's what drives me to write.
Nice answer.

Strangely, I've never liked the puzzle aspect. It becomes much too strained and hence unbelievable. It also turns a novel about violent death into a parlor game. That bothers me.

I've always read mysteries. I suppose I started writing the first one to see if I could do it. Now I'm writing to see if I can blur the lines between mystery and mainstream/literary novel.
My reasons are pretty simple. Mysteries are my favorite fomr of reading, and I like to write. Like a lot of people, I tend to write books that contain many of the things I like about books I read. I don't think I have a deep psychological need to write, though I admit it's not always fun. I was a musician in a previous career, so I'm used to spending my evenings either working or practicing, so sitting myself down to write is a natural extension.
I write what I love to read. What attracts me to traditional mysteries is the combination of structure--the sturdy coathanger of crime, investigation, and solution--on which we can hang anything we want (Dick Francis: horses; Nevada Barr: national parks, etc.) and character. I love the opportunity for developing characters and their world over the course of a series. Literary novels can explore character and relationships, but to be able to do that along with a guarantee that Something Happens--what a pleasure. :)
From a reader's standpoint, I read what you authors love to write--especially suspense novels. I enjoy quirky characters and flawed investigators. Don't ask me why, but have always enjoyed mysteries-- even in grade school.
I like Jon's answer of inhabiting the characters.

I probably fall into thriller/suspense realm, but I like to write them because I like being on the edge and putting the reader on the edge. I like getting into the heads of my characters, especially when it's a place that I don't want to go and even frightens me.

I like that it's still the one genre where you can be literary if you want and if you don't want that's fine as well.
Even when I write in another genre, like science fiction, fantasy, or horror there is always an element of mystery to be solved. I guess an element of investigation and discovery is pretty much essential in my work, because I feel I need my characters to do more than just exist, they have to be looking for something, even if it's only to a question they don't want to ask.

I once wrote a fairly traditional "cosy" mystery for a writing contest, I had never done it before, but I found constructing the mechanics of the crime, the suspects, the solution, and the rather tricky situation of the detective a hell of a lot of fun to do. I hope the judges enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
My quick response. I write crime thrillers in which women are in jeopard ... just like real life lots of times. But in my books the bad guy gets punished in the end, unlike real life lots of times.

I also don't care for detective stories written in 1st person. I like to get inside the mind of the killer, male or female (like Thomas Perry's Nightlife, for instance). It gives a much creepier feel to the book. Right now I'm writing a "stalker" book. The guy is very creepy. Has anyone read Joyce Carol Oates book, Zombie? It's written entirely in the POV of the serial killer.

Susan
I think all people have a need - a psychological need - to find truth in chaos. As writers, we create chaos and then seek to lead our readers on a journey to find the truth. We, as writers, fulfill a need. Which makes us feel good!

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