Did you ever want to write a mystery series? Have an idea for a character but nothing else? Maybe you need a blueprint for finally getting that mystery series written.

True Story

When I worked for the CIA, diving into real-life mysteries, I loved reading mysteries like the Spenser series by Robert B. Parker. So much so that I wanted to write my own.

When I wrote the first Detective Emilia Cruz story, drawing on my counterdrug experience, the plot came together easily. The rest was a hard slog.

Inventing a compelling main character was just the start. What about the secondary characters and the tensions they bring to the story? Plots ahd to be unique to the setting. What cultural elements helped do that?

Beyond all that, each book had to create anticipation for the next. I wanted readers to stay up all night navigating complicated plot lines, wondering if the main character had what it takes, and devouring every book in the series.

By the time I finished the 3rd book, DIABLO NIGHTS, I had unknowingly created a blueprint for the series. Each book wasn’t a one-off, but part of a richer whole.

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The formula

Eight books and some short stories later, I’ve distilled what it takes to create a page-turning mystery series into a 5-part formula that I call the Mystery Shark Method.


S = Setting

H = Hero/Heroine

A = Arc

R = Run time

K = Killjoy

I’ve put together an entire free Mystery Shark Method mini masterclass for you. Each SHARK element is explained, with examples. There’s also some writing exercises to help you create your own blueprint for a page-turning mystery series.

Find the mini masterclass here: http://carmenamato.net/mystery-masterclass


  1. Mikel Miller

    Thanks for sharing these insights!

    • Carmen

      Hmmm, can we expect a sleuthing book publisher series soon?

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write a mystery series


Mystery and thriller author. Retired Central Intelligence Agency intel officer. Dog mom to Hazel and Dutch. Recovering Italian handbag addict.


Mystery Shark Method masterclass
Author Carmen Amato

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