Monday, 30 January 2017

The Trials Of A Crime Writer - Seeing Crime Everywhere


One of the things that you pick up on when you write about crime all day is that it is everywhere! I don't just mean in your work or your plots, but all around you and always ongoing. Sometimes it's hard to distinguish whether you're just seeing crime because of your day job, or whether there actually is crime rampant around your daily life.

I say this because as someone who has been writing crime for over fifteen years, I've started to see that I see it all. the. time! I mean, I look out my office window and I see someone walking past my car and I think: Are they about to break in? Are they on the run? Do they have a body in their backpack? Okay the last is unlikely but maybe they have a head in there, those backpacks can be roomy!

I don't do anything about it of course, because that would be ridiculous! It still plays in my mind though. There's been a new school opened up down the road from us and so there's a lot of foot traffic from students. Now, as you all know, I've a pro-nap author and occasionally I'll find myself napping just as they're headed home for the day and guess what? That crime author brain pings up again.

Is there a bomb scare? Is that what all the noise is about? It can't be home time already? Are they skipping school? Oh, what if they're off to...and usually at that point my brain remembers the school and the foot traffic and I'm able to drift off and dream of fighting some monster while writing a book. (I never said my dreams were normal!)

My point is that it can't be natural to see crime everywhere, and it's probably not, but at the same time it's a side effect of having been doing what I do for so long. I do the same when I'm people watching and thinking up characters. Sometimes it so happens that a random person walking by my office window becomes a character or at least their body type and face does, in my latest work in progress. It all depends on where I am and whether or not I'm thinking characters or crime.

It does feel like my brain only has a few switches. If I'm not writing, then I'm doing admin work, reading or sleeping, or all four, though I'm not sure how I manage that. But seeing crime everywhere feels to me as a natural side effect of writing crime day in and day out. I'm sure police officers and the like have the same problem, though for them it's hard work and a clever eye to spot the ones that aren't as innocent as they seem.

So what's my advice to you? If you're a crime writer and you find yourself plotting nefarious activities onto some passer-by, maybe take a step back and get writing on your novel. At least then you can use some of the inspiration to move your work forward (or plot a whole new book) but for this crime writer, I'm happy to people watch and keep my nefarious plotting to myself!

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