Archive for the ‘crime writing’ Category

this really happened to me, just after I sent off the pitch to NFM:


introduction to crime writing

You know how they always tell you to have your ‘elevator pitch’ — 2-minute summary of your project  — ready just in case? This really happened to me.
I’m in the Algarve in a tourist resort to get some head space to work on a writing proposal. I’m chatting with my nice friend who asked me to look up the Dancing on Ice results  — which I do. She’s 81 years old and tells me she’s reading 50 Shades of Grey on her kindle. I say I read the first book and sort of could work out the ending.
“Yes, I prefer crime and thrillers,” she says.

We talk about Patricia Cornwell, PD James’ Death Comes to Pemberley, and A Touch of Frost.
I tell her about the project I’m working on here:
“It’s about a woman who’s kidnapped. Only she’s a bit unusual — she’s a 15-stone pole-dancer…”

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The story so far:
I have written the first draft of a crime novel, provisionally titled Dolly Maltravers Investigates: the Nigerian Web. As I came to the end, I felt increasingly bothered by three linked issues (which I will keep vague so as not to spoil the story for later readers):

  1. I think the villain is too obvious. Cui bono? It’s not much of a mystery for the experienced reader;
  2. their alibi is rather thin: why should the police buy it?
  3. their character is too antipathetic. They are rather dull, conventional, lacking passion – the classic shadowy perpetrator. It’s clear the author doesn’t like them very much.

Although this is only a first draft and it can be solved in the rewrite, these issues sap my morale and motivation to get through the grunt work. I write long-hand and have to transcribe from my notebooks, so there’s typing up, formatting, and maintaining consistency in both voice and plot). Basically, I’m a bit out of love with the whole thing because I see these gaping flaws.
Coupled with this we’re in the midst of the bleakest bleak midwinter. I suffer from SAD and find it increasingly difficult to motivate myself to do anything at all,
So I have set myself some very limited targets:

  • type up 1.6k words per day (4 pages of long-hand;
  • write 1.6k words a day of new material, which can be exercises from writing books or my own exercises;
  • blog the process here.

I have been working my way through Writing and Selling your Mystery Novel by Hallie Ephron (Writers Digest Books). I came to the chapter on the Villain, and I really didn’t feel like doing it. I had brainstormed what I could do to tackle the issues listed above, but I really didn’t know how I was going to get the energy to do it…
I remembered an exercise I’d been given in a writing class: Dear Author

November is Nanowrimo (notional novel writing month) where thousands of people commit to writing a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. Since one of my problems is actually finishing something before I wander off onto something else, I thought: I must be able to stick at it for a month, surely.

So here I am about to embark on the 30-day novel-writing binge, and here on this blog I’ll log my progress. It should also serve as a real-time experiment in how-to write a crime novel. So you should encounter such gems as: how to start; what to do when you can’t think of anything; plotting problems; boredom; events, dear boy, events; research and what to do when you haven’t done it.

watch this space