I subscribe to The Writer’s Almanac, which means that every day I get a poem and some snippets of information on writers, thinkers, people who have made a difference in the world. I often come away with inspiration and advice, and today I learned something significant from writer Frank Conroy (books by this author):
“The author makes a tacit deal with the reader. You hand them a backpack. You ask them to place certain things in it — to remember, to keep in mind — as they make their way up the hill. If you hand them a yellow Volkswagen and they have to haul this to the top of the mountain — to the end of the story — and they find that this Volkswagen has nothing whatsoever to do with your story, you’re going to have a very irritated reader on your hands.”
This is important to remember for all stories, but probably even more so for mysteries, where the reader is very intent on keeping track of all details in order to figure out who the bad guy is.