Thursday 27 November 2014

The Trials Of A Crime Writer: Has This Been Done Before?

The Trials Of A Crime Writer: Has This Been Done Before?

Every writer, no matter whether they are published or not, is looking for the original idea. The one thing that hasn't been done before. A lot of the books I've read on the subject say that there simply aren't any original ideas anymore. They've all been used in one way or another, and that you just have to look at how to turn your unoriginal plot into something with a twist. I don't necessarily agree that there are no more original ideas, after all, history has changed the way things in the world work, and with all that history, there has to have been new things happening. The other bit that bugs me is that every single person is different, is unique and therefore the majority of us don't all act the same when placed in the exact same circumstances. I think that means that there are plenty of ways to turn a previously used plot into something original, or to think up something completely off the wall that hasn't been done before.

Of course though, this is more about my trials as a crime writer, and therefore what I'm mostly talking about is the central plot or theme that runs through each crime novel. When you're thinking up ways for people to break the law, the motives can be as unique as you want, but sometimes the crimes tend to repeat themselves. It's a fact of life that people kill each other in many different ways, but also that most police officers don't deal with serial killers, nor do they deal with unique crimes every single day. The motive may be something they haven't heard before, but the crime itself is usually the same no matter how different you try to make it.

Having said that, it doesn't stop me from trying to make sure that the motives behind each central crime - whether they be a serial rapist, murderer or petty thief - all have their own unique twist on them. Sometimes you can't do that because there are rarely convoluted reasons for why someone stole drugs from a drug dealer and then got murdered for it. As a crime writer, you have to be aware that by not repeating the crimes, by trying to make them all different and unique, you've already started to stretch the boundaries of what is and isn't believable. So while it's a good idea to not have every victim act, respond and/or die in the same way, there are patterns to crime and if you want your book to hold a reader's interest, you have to be sure that you follow some of the laws of the world.

Yet when I sit and write my chapter notes before I start a book, or read through what I think makes a good crime to talk about, I still try to make each case somewhat different. It's a difficult trap to avoid, but at the same time it's something you have to be flexible with. Outside of the pages of crime novels and the Hollywood movies, you have to realise that the majority of police officers will never really deal with a serial killer. They make for good fiction, but are not as common as fiction and the media would love to make out. That said, they are a great way to tell a story and have the characters work towards a common goal. After all, fiction is a way for the unimaginable to happen and although there are unimaginable things done to people by others, sometimes it's nice to believe that the only horrible crimes happen between the pages of books, where you can see that justice prevails and all ends well (hopefully!)

Usually I deal with multiple cases when writing a DYING THOUGHTS book, with Tara helping the police, and there needs to be some level of difficulty in the cases she's called in on. Otherwise it gets to the point where I, and the reader will be asking if her gift is really needed or if the police are just lazy. The joy of fiction is that there is some level of being able to suspend belief. The aim is to not push it so far that it snaps in two. So, as I sit here at 1am, writing a piece about believable and unique crimes, I find myself wondering if it is possible to achieve both those without breaking the believability of the scenes. To be honest, I'm not really sure, but that doesn't mean that I won't continue to try!

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1 comment:

  1. I love your crime stories and to me they feel original because you do it as only Joey can. That makes them special and unique.