Friday 5 February 2021

So you want to write a crime novel Part 2: First Thoughts

 The first thoughts about any new writing project are the most enjoyable. This is where the only limit is your imagination. So give yourself the time and space to let your mind wander down untrodden paths. You need that time to allow your subconscious to fit your disjointed thoughts into some kind of cohesive jigsaw that will form the basis of your story.

With a crime story, there are restraints that other genres do not have. For example, the time in which you set your story will affect what technology is/was/wasn't available. Even a novel set in the 1980s would not have mobile phones unless your detective was happy to carry a brick around with him that took all night to charge and which only had a two-hour battery life. 

Who is your main character? Police officer, amateur sleuth, man, woman, dog? What makes them different? My own sleuth, Georgia Pattison is an early-music soprano. What about your setting? The seaside? A distant planet far, far away? Roman Britain? All will affect how and what you write. Similarly the method of murder you choose will be key. I have never chosen to have a victim with a gunshot wound because the world of ballistics moves forward so quickly. Ditto forensic techniques. Of course, if you set your novel in the future, you can make up your own technology.

The clues you present to the reader must also fit the time in which the novel is set. This is where the golden age of detective fiction was so powerful because the limits of technological knowledge were so limited, authors had to use other ways to present their clues amid a welter of red herrings. Freeman Wills Crofts relied heavily on train timetables. Dorothy L Sayers liked unusual methods of killing her victims.

Writing a crime novel is like putting a jigsaw together and then throwing the pieces up in the air and letting your readers try to put it together without a picture to guide them. I find it immense fun and you might, too. If so, you will find my blog on First Thoughts HERE

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