I am currently working on a murder mystery novel with a vintage aesthetic. I already have vintage names, Pinterest boards and mood boards. So I know what I want it to kinda look like. The problem is I don’t know how to effectively convey the look and feel of the aesthetic that want my readers to see and feel.

I’ve heard of other authors who take an aesthetic but they don’t properly convey the aesthetic that they had chosen, which leads to annoyed readers who love the aesthetic that the author has chosen.

The other problem is I have to mix in the eerie and dark feel of the murder mystery part of the book as well.

2 Answers 2

  1. Do your research. Make sure you know commonly used words, phrases etc from that time (sprinkle them in liberally, in keeping with your POV character and dialogue)

  2. Do more research. What types of materials and technology did they have? What colours were popular? Look at images from the time for inspiration. Again, tint your text with them, without going overboard.

  3. As weird as it sounds, sunny days and high life are a perfect fit with murder mystery. Think "Death on the Nile". Contrast is key. Sunny days and dark nights. The sun casts long shadows. An idilyic setting with a few discordant parts can create unease very effectively. Another person to read up on for this is HP Lovecraft.

  4. Most important! While you should try to convey aesthetic in your writing from first draft, make it at the heart, it's not something you need to perfect on the first pass. (Nothing is, really!) You can layer it on and add detail as you redraft and edit.


Vintage is very broad… but regardless, maybe see what the hottest published murder mysteries were in 1950? Read those, maybe highlight a few passages that seem to strike you. Everything from describing character’s dress, to cooking/eating utensils, to the vocabulary that was used more predominantly back then?

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