Mastering the Mystery of Mystery Film Structure

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Mastering the Mystery of Mystery Film Structure

Mastering the mystery behind writing an effective mystery film is important for any screenwriter or filmmaker that’s interested in diving into this style of filmmaking. A mystery screenplay or story can be quite challenging at best. First, there’s all the different elements that you’ve got to include. In order for a mystery to be entertaining, engaging, and fun, and then there’s the plot structure. Mystery film structure frequently uses a non-linear approach. In which a technique known as foreshadowing is often meant to engage viewers without giving away the sleuth.


But what is the proper structure for a mystery film? And what is foreshadowing?

Plotting a Mystery is More than Just a Sequence

First, and foremost, it’s important for you to understand that plotting a mystery is about more than just sequencing the events that took place in an A, B, C chronological order. If it were that easy, everyone would write mysteries.

And well, they probably wouldn’t be that interesting. A mystery film structure can be delivered in a variety of different ways. But most of the time the plot of a mystery is going to revolve around the unique stress formed among the characters. 

Whether or not the suspect of the mystery actually is responsible for the crime or problem that was committed. They do have a hidden secret.

The Relationship

But what does all of this have to do with plotting the mystery’s sequence of events and the methods by which you will share those events in great storytelling form?

A lot actually! You see, the use of character secrets and the plotting of various undercurrents that occur between your characters. Can help to create the connection in your audience to the idea of each of these characters as potentially suspect of committing.

Or being involved in the mystery or crime. So, before you plot your mystery, plan your characters and the secrets that each will have. Which will create the suspects and establish motives behind the mystery.

Use Non-Linear Film Structure & Foreshadowing


You might even find yourself including some flashbacks as well. The goal here is to incorporate the story into a sequence that works best for this style of screenplay.

The use of a non-linear film structure that is built around the establishment of your characters, and the world they live in. As being fascinating, full of secrets, and unusually close to what we all already live in will help your story to connect with your audience.

The Power of Foreshadowing

Foreshadowing, or the release of various hints into what might take place in the future of the mystery provide basic clues into the mystery and the puzzle that is to be solved.

Foreshadowing can be performed through character dialogue, or visually. Clues may be subtle or they could be incredibly explicit. 

Overall, as you focus on taking steps to master the mystery film structure. The focus should be on the use of unique character stories and secrets.

The twisting and turning of the plot with foreshadowing to provide a glimpse into what will happen. And the dropping of clues in a collective organization for the most suitable delivery. You’ll find the mystery coming together.

The plot structure is likely to go something like this:

  • Dramatic opening.
  • Introduction of characters
  • Character enlightenment
  • Plot twist
  • Another plot twist
  • Character secrets
  • Another plot twist
  • Confrontation
  • Resolution