I love a good mystery. I'm a romance writer, but I think a tinge of intrigue added to a book goes a long way.
In my first book, there's a stalker. Who done it?
In my second, there's a mystery guy. Who is he?
In my third, there's a misunderstanding. Will they figure it out?
Conflict doesn't have to be a mystery, but I think all good authors keep a few cards back to surprise the reader in the end.
But is it okay to leave a mystery unsolved?
Take this one for example.
One day I got home from work and noticed a Wal-Mart bag in the back seat. I didn't think anything of it, and left it there. A few days later, I opened it. In there was a pair of sweatpants, a pair of jeans, and t-shirt. They were all sizes smaller than my own, and all unfamiliar.
I assumed my sister had left it in there at some point, but sometime later, when I thought to show them to her, she said no, they weren't hers.
I pondered this for a long time. How did a strange bag of clothing get put into my car? I usually lock the doors. I don't THINK my husband was cheating on me... in fact I know he wasn't. *grin* We were with each other almost every moment we weren't at work, and he really didn't have the time to. LOL. Plus, if he was, he was pretty dumb to leave the woman's clothes in my car.
To this day, I have NO idea how that sack got into my car.
It bothered me for a while. A dumb thing, I know, but my writer's mind went bananas. What if someone had killed somebody, and these were the clothes they'd been wearing? What if they'd washed the blood off but tried to hide them in case there were still traces? What if a spy had changed clothes and stashed their old clothes in my car?
Or... someone could have just mistaken my car for theirs and accidently put them in there. But that isn't NEARLY as fun of a thought.
The point is, I still think about it from time to time, and it's still a mystery. I'm unsatisified.
Which is exactly what, in my humble opinion, we do NOT want our readers to be when they finish our book. Yes, they might continue to think about the book, but probably in a frustrated sense verses content or satisfaction. You lose a degree of trust that the reader has giving you to give them a proper conclusion to the story.
Discussion: Do you have any "unsolved" mysteries in your life that you still wonder about? What are your thoughts on ending a book? Do you like to leave a reader hanging for the next one, or leave a "what if" question? And as a reader, what are your thoughts on the matter? This is all friendly discussion of course, feel free to disagree with me! I value everyone's opinions!!