The messy business of writing a crime novel by Pauline Rowson

Pauline Rowson, author of the popular DI Andy Horton series has been hailed as "redefining the genre of police drama” by setting it against the atmospheric backdrop of the ever changing sea. Her cops are tough yet fallible. The DI Andy Horton series of crime novels has everything: compelling crimes, complex past history, a tough work environment, romantic entanglements and political intrigue played out against the dramatic and powerfully evocative British marine landscape of Portsmouth and the Solent.




 So I have the idea. I do some research. I work it up into an outline plot with a smattering of characters and then I start writing. This is when it gets messy.  


1. The brain dump or free flow

First up is the free flow type of writing when I'm eager to bring the idea and characters to life by getting words and actions on to my computer screen as quickly as possible. Often these are not the correct words, the description is hazy, the characters not fully formed, the grammar and punctuation incorrect but there is something there that can be shaped later. This is what I refer to as the brain dump phase when I wish I could simply download words on to the computer without having to type them. The aim of this phase of writing, the first draft, is to get something written as quickly as possible.

2. The mixing and shaping

Second is the mixing or shaping phase when I go back through the novel (which might not yet be complete) and I move chapters or sections around because I realise they're not in the correct place. I might also ditch some chapters and characters or build minor characters up more, who, as the novel has progressed, have started to become more than just a walk-on part.  I might even create new characters, or a sub plot might take on new meaning and significance adding colour and interest. Sometimes this second phase overlaps with the first.  It's messy but gradually the novel begins to take better shape. 

3. Next come the revisions

Once I'm happy with the first and second phase it's then time for revisions.  Now I need to trawl through the novel to make sure that all the characters are fully formed and the clues are firmly planted and sometimes cleverly disguised; that all the unanswered questions are answered, the red herrings are in place, the setting and research are correct and it all hangs together.

After that it's final revision time, which involves checking every line of the novel to ensure that I've used the most appropriate words and phrases at the appropriate time and have not over used certain words. The computer 'find' function can be very helpful here.

Over the Christmas and New Year I spent a considerable amount of time completing the first and second drafts of DI Andy Horton number 12 in the series now I'm working on the third draft – fleshing out the key characters, checking that plots, sub plots and clues all hang together, ensuring tension and atmosphere abound, answering all the unanswered questions and tying up the knots... I may be some time.


Footsteps on the Shore (DI Andy Horton no.6.) now in paperback, as an e book and an unabridged audio book


 "Deserves mention in the same breath as works in the upper echelon of American procedurals (those by Ed McBain or Joseph Wambaugh) and their British counterparts, including the work of Peter Robinson and John Harvey.

"Andy Horton is an especially good series hero, a likeable fellow with plenty of street smarts and the requisite personal baggage – an abrasive supervisor and an antagonistic soon-to-be ex-wife. Procedural fans who haven’t already read Rowson should be encouraged to do so in the strongest possible terms. A definite winner in the crowded field of British procedurals.” Booklist


Buy Footsteps on the Shore ( DI Andy Horton 6)

Buy Pauline Rowson's Books on Amazon


Buy from your local bookshop

Buy Pauline Rowson's books at your local bookshop

Also available in Large Print and for loan in libraries in the UK, Commonwealth and the USA.




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