You’ll be familiar with the classic mystery story of the ‘Whodunnit’. A murder or a crime is committed, a collection of suspects is identified and the story will explore method, motive and who it was who committed the crime. This is the standard murder mystery format.
The ‘Whydunnit’ is usually a longer book, or it may be a sequel to a ‘Whodunnit’ novel, taking the reader into a deeper and utlimately satisfying examination of the motivation of the story. Alexandre Dumas’ The Count Of Monte Christo is a classic example. Recently Stieg Larsson had massive success, albeit is sadly posthumously, with his trilogy which started with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. The last book is the series is a very compelling ‘Whydunnit’.
Stories recount events and the best, most satisfying stories have depth and complexity. When creating a story or solving a mystery it can be useful to have Kipling’s Six Honest Serving Men to hand, which begins:-
I keep six honest serving men,
(They taught me all I knew)
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
Put your six honest serving men to work when you want to understand or explain something.