How I write

Just seen that crime writer, Martin Edwards, has posted a nice comment about me and my marine mysteries on his blog Thanks, Martin, that's very kind of you, and I hope you enjoy reading In For The Kill my latest marine mystery thriller. Martin's got some good articles on his blog and I was interested to read the entry about Agents and Editors, which has spurred me to not only leave a comment on his blog, but write this.

I often get asked how I write. Well, first comes an idea. Then the characters appear, some of whom when I actually begin to write the novel never see the light of day. All my initial plotting and character construction is executed on scrap paper, A4 size, and each character is bound together with a good old fashioned india tag, the same for the plot outline. This is all written in pencil using spider grams and stays on my desk until the novel is completed. I do some research before I begin writing, but a great deal more as I write. As long as I have an outline and some characters to begin with, I can start the creative writing process, which is really important for me, because until I start to write and put words into the characters mouths they don't come alive. When they start breathing, speaking and taking action then the plot also begins to develop.

I usually try to bash out the first draft very quickly. It is exciting and satisfying but can also be frustrating because I can never write fast enough and my poor wrists ache from too much keyboard pounding.

When this is complete, or almost complete, the real hard work begins - the editing. Which brings me back to Martin's article. Revising and editing your work again and again to make it the best you possibly can is critical but there comes a stage when you are sick of it, and know it inside out, upside down and back to front and as such can't see where the glaring gaps are, and of course, with a crime novel there can't be any holes, or shouldn't be. This is where someone else's critical eye over it is vital.
Many writers have agents to do this for them before the novel gets sent to the publisher's editor. I don't have an agent. Instead, my wonderful mentor, Amy Myers, herself a published crime writer, gives it the once over before I send it to my editor. It is important to work with someone who understands your style of writing. I've had other 'editors' before recommended to me from a variety of literary consultancies but none of them gelled. When Amy appeared everything changed. She knew exactly what I was trying to say and how I was trying to say it. My crime and thriller novels are NOT literary tomes full of big fancy words that you will need a dictionary beside you when you read them. They are lively, fast-paced action novels. An entertaining and enjoyable read (I hope). A puzzle to solve and many twists and turns to keep you guessing until the end. So much so in fact that not even I always know 'whodunnit. '


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