Blog For Authors
How to Write Crime Fiction - Part Seven: Tips for Better Writing
August 13, 2017
Using Maps and Sketches for Better Writing
Sketches of key locations and interiors are a safeguard against mistakes and sometimes suggest plot developments. When you write that Fred escaped through the bathroom window at the rear of the manor house and ran to the village without meeting a soul, your reader might recall that Mrs Greenfinger's vegetable garden adjoined the path he took, and that Mr Snoop was prone to lurk by her hedge in the hope of glimpsing her frisky niece. A sketch map would remind you that Fred must detour to escape unseen.
How to Write Crime Fiction - Part Six: Forensics
July 20, 2017
As a writer, getting the crime scene and the procedural of the police right is obviously a priority for your novel. In this section we look at ways and means of getting the forensics right and how, police divisions within the UK and how to kill off your characters.
Here is an extract from Stone Dead where the detective investigates the scene of a murder. Note how the forensic details come into play through the narrative's progression.
DC Dave Thomas parked the car at the end of the cul-de-sac and sat for a moment with the driver's window wound down, looking for his notebook and listening to the sound of a train as it clanked its way slowly through Parson Street railway station. The air was humid and smelt of cooked breakfasts and discarded takeaways. He glanced in the rear view mirror. The street was quiet except for a couple of youths kicking a football about at the far end of the street. So engrossed were they in their game that they hardly noticed him. Both wore the uniform he had come to associate with the youth of the impoverished area: the dreadlocks, black power T-shirts, the hipster trousers and Doc Marten boots. He wound up the window, then got out and locked the car. Best to be on the safe side.
He made his way past overgrown gardens until he drew level with the front door. It lay slightly ajar. From inside he could hear a baby crying and there was a smell of burning food. He knocked loudly on the paint-peeled door and waited, but there was no reply. He pushed the door wide, stepped inside and called again, this time louder.
Your opening is your selling point for your crime novel. It needs to grab the reader's attention by presenting to him/her something unusual or tantalising! We call this THE HOOK!
Patreon for Writers
June 22, 2017
What is Patreon?
Patreon is a platform for content creators to showcase and disseminate their works and, potentially, obtain a sustainable income, all the while connecting you, the author, with your fan base. Patreon is more in line with a subscription-based program, than say a crowdfunding platform like Indiegogo or Kickstarter.
Having a successful Patreon database with subscriptions will hopefully allow authors to utilize this potential new revenue stream, enabling them to devote more time to their writing and using this money for better book covers, editing and marketing.
No matter what the genre, including crime fiction, we need to decide when writing, who will be telling the story. This is known as the viewpoint.
It's not only a question of the artist looking into himself but also of his looking into others with the experience he has of himself . He writes with sympathy because he feels that the other man is like him.
When I initially decided to become an author the first thing I had to consider was whether I should self-publish or go traditional. I looked at self-publishing as it allowed me to target an international market. Let's face it, getting a conventional publishing deal from a local publisher is near impossible and most of them operate like a vanity press. The other downside to local publishers is that they give preference to books about local subjects rather than consider the wider reading genre that many prefer. Thus self-publishing was the better option and where my steep learning curve began.
Grammar 101 for Writers: Tenses
May 2, 2017
Tenses in language are used for time reference. There are many different constructions for time reference and not all languages use the same one. Basic tenses have a past, a present, and a future. Some languages have a past and a non-past (which is both the present and the future), while other languages have a future and non-future (which is the past and the present). Some languages don’t weave time into their verbs at all. Some languages differentiate near and remote pasts or near and remote futures.
Let's start at the beginning by asking ourselves the questions: what is crime fiction and why choose to write it? The first question is perhaps the simplest of the two.
How Much Does it Cost to Self-Publish?
April 16, 2017
People ask me all the time, “How much does it cost to self-publish?” The usual answer is, “As much, or as little, as you want it to cost.” However, in the end the sensible answer lies somewhere in between. Let me explain.
Companies will charge through the nose for editorial services, book covers, interior book designs and marketing campaigns so that in the end you have outlaid an enormous amount of money, possibly as much as $3000 with little hope of recouping that, any time soon, via book sales.
How to Organize your Writing Ideas
April 9, 2017
Do you ever get a feeling of déjà vu when you're talking to somebody? In real life this can embarrass you, but as a writer it can also be very confusing to your reader. This has happened to me a few times, but I’ve caught my mistake before it went any further than the pages of my story. Keeping your character’s activities and personalities consistent is essential for a well-crafted manuscript.
How to Write Crime Fiction - Tip One: How to Begin
April 9, 2017
Here is the scenario. You have read crime fiction for some years. You have watched and enjoyed crime series on TV and you think you might write a best selling crime novel — or even series! What exactly do you need to know before you start your first novel?
Grammar 101 for Writers: The Comma
April 2, 2017
In this grammar lesson, I would like to talk about that crucial comma. Even though the comma is such a tiny, little thing, it holds enormous power, able to completely change a sentence.
Example: ‘Let’s eat Grandma’ vs ‘Let’s eat, Grandma.’
No need to tell you that it’s imperative that a writer needs to know where to put commas. Some writers go with their gut feeling, putting the comma where they pause the sentence flow. As a non-native speaker, I find this tricky and prefer to stick to the rules. There are quite a lot, so I made an index to give you a better overview. I hope this text will make the use of the comma clearer for you.
Political Events and Book Sales
April 2, 2017
So, I am painting doors in my year-old home, and by year-old I mean I just moved in here a year ago - the house itself was built in the fifties - and I suddenly have this flash of genius. I feel like I have cracked the code to why I’m not selling more copies.
Everybody knows that there is more than enough evidence that there is some connection between almost every kind of major event and book sales. That is no secret. Books of a certain kind sell seasonally, and drawing a line from there, certain specific events spike sales of certain specific genres.
The Right Words, In The Right Place
March 19, 2017
“It's been one of those days. Nothing's going right at work, you’ve spilled coffee down your favorite shirt and your boss is being impossible with a last-minute request. Naturally he comes to you with this as you're walking out the door at 5 o'clock. Grudgingly you comply and, now 45 minutes late leaving the office, it’s out the building to fight the evening traffic. Today’s commute home seems worse than ever, as you battle the stop-and-go traffic, the worst only a mile from your home.
Managing Writer’s Block
March 12, 2017
It happened. It happens to all of us who live to write and write to live. It’s still rather dreadful. The feared writer’s block, enemy of progress, killer of page count, destroyer of dreams.
What is Creative Writing?
March 5, 2017
Some words become used so regularly we begin to take them for granted. Creative writing is such a term; it acts as a definition for writing courses, for authors’ mutual support groups and sundry other uses. Yet, when we delve into creativity, the term is far more contentious than we have been led to believe.
Grammar 101 for Writers: Sentence Structure
March 5, 2017
Grammar 101 for Writers started as an idea when Kathryn Bax sent out a request for people writing an article on a regular basis for One Stop Fiction, I immediately wanted to join. But what to write? I don’t have much experience in reading or writing as I only started writing less than two years ago. As English is not my first language it was a steep learning curve for me to learn how to write properly (and of course I still have a lot to learn). I had to start with grammar basics. Hence I thought it may be an idea to share my learning with you. Some of you are also writers whose mother tongue is a foreign language. For those of you who did grow up using the English language, it may be a long time ago since you sat in the classroom and may have forgotten why you write the way you write. I hope there is something for everybody in these articles.
What + What = A Romantic Hero?
February 26, 2017
I took part the other day in a writing competition wherein I had to come up with the first thirty pages of a romance novel to be viewed by editors from three well known publishing houses. The concept was fairly easy to come up with, as was the heroine. However I struggled with one very important aspect of the book, the hero. He was so elusive.
Why Writers Should Collaborate
February 21, 2017
When I first started writing I was so scared that someone would steal my work that I kept it hidden from any and all prying eyes. I saw every other author as my competition and I guess that without realizing it, I believed that there were only a finite number of ideas to be had and only so many ways to express them. But I soon learned otherwise. Yes there are all kinds crooks out there, but in my experience so far, most real authors are way more interested in expressing their own voice than stealing mine. They write because they have something to say and want the world to hear it, they have no interest in trying to be someone else instead.
Inspiration - How to Make Sure You Never Run Out
February 19, 2017
Some people are natural born storytellers. A knock on the door is an inspiration for them. Others cannot find stories no matter how hard they look. To keep inspiration flowing I’ve tried all these techniques at some time or the other.
Writing in the Haar
February 12, 2017
What is the Haar?
The haar in Aberdeenshire, north-east Scotland, can refer to a light coastal fog or a downright pea-souper. Either way, if you’re out in haar there’s an eerie, almost unworldly quality about it. If driving, fog lights are pretty useless since haar has a tendency to drift in and out like the tidal surges you’d find on the shoreline. If walking, take a deep breath. Haar isn’t like Los Angeles smog where you can actually taste the pollution: haar can actually be quite an uplifting face bath, albeit one where you are in a sauna-steam situation without any heat. Regardless, in any haar, seeing the way forward is a cautious process.
Procrastination: 5 Ways to Defeat the Dream Killer
February 5, 2017
Each morning I wake up at 4am, pour myself a strong cup of tea then take a seat at my desk. My wife is still asleep along with the rest of the world and for two hours I will be alone and undisturbed. This precious writing time has been set aside with the aim of adding a couple of thousand words to my next novel. But wait, I haven’t checked my social media accounts! There may be messages and unread posts waiting. Opening Facebook, I diligently post my replies and comments.
How Long Does it Take to Write a Book?
January 30, 2017
How long does it take to write a book? Hmm, tricky question. And the answer probably depends on who is asking.
If you are a fledgling writer, the answer is, “How long is a piece of string??”. It might depend on how much time you have available, your style of writing and the book genre. If you are writing fantasy or paranormal you’ll need to do lots of world building and most genres need research, historical fiction requires boatloads of research.