Monday 11 June 2018

The Trials Of A Crime Writer: Making It Work


Sometimes you'll have the best idea and then you'll sit down to write it and it just doesn't make sense, or doesn't jive well with the characters and your writing ability. Never fear! I have some tips and tricks you can try to make your idea work. For the record I'm a mix of a planner and a panster. People usually call them Plantsers but I, being the giant Doctor Who geek, prefer the term: Hybrid. It means I can use this gif!

So beside that awesome point, I just want to add that planning works for a lot of people, and there's nothing wrong with it. On the flip side, there's nothing wrong with writer's who *don't* plan either. Nor with those like me who straddle the best of both worlds. There's not wrong way to write or plan or not. It's all about your own personal style and all of that. That said, let's move onto the tips and tricks of what to do when you've got this awesome idea but you can't work out how to make it into an actual story.

I know a lot of authors who do it this way. I believe Jenna Moreci is one of them. She describes thought dumping as a way to just dig into the story and allow for all the information to fall onto the page. You don't have any order or plan, you just put down everything you can think of that ties to this idea. It's a great way to get the flow going and get the idea out of your head and on paper. It works well to get the ideas from your brain and just out. You don't have to put any more thought to it, just pour everything you can think of about this idea onto the page. You can organise it later. I find this works wonders when I'm in the middle of another story and need to get an idea out of my head so that I can focus on the work I have to do. It's not even something you have to do during one session, you can keep adding to it as you go along. It's a powerful tool.

Now, since this is a piece specifically aimed at crime writers, I wanted to make sure there were some tips that applied simply to that genre. This one of them. I've had numerous crime plots and sometimes have difficulty connected the pieces together. Like I know what I want the end to be, but I don't really know where it begins or the middle and all of that. Sometimes you'll have a middle or a beginning, but the advice is the same. Follow the logic. If you want there to be a gang of people arrested for a bank heist of some kind, that you need to work backwards and use logical thinking to be able to tie it all together. Now I know sometimes crime isn't all that logical, so don't feel like it has to all fit perfectly, sometimes it just doesn't.

Sometimes we have an idea that doesn't work on its own. Sometimes it's not enough for a whole novel, and wouldn't be a good idea as a novella. There are, yes, over-writers and under-writers and their version of long enough, hell, anyone's version, is going to differ from yours. But if you have an idea and as you're writing it you realise that they could get to the end goal now, then you have a problem. There should never be a point in the beginning of your plot where the goal could be met without any issues. That's when you add in twists and sub-plots that keep your protagonist from reaching their goal. And I don't mean random ones that don't serve the story at all, but ones that allow for more character growth and conflict that can't be resolved quickly and easily. This can be anything from throwing in a love interest whose story would end should the main character reaches their goal straight away, to actual obstacles being put in their way. Be careful that you don't overuse the add a twist point, there will come a time when your readers are unable to suspend their disbelief and will just get aggravated with the story and you don't want that.

This is something I've used a lot when talking through plot ideas with friends. Sometimes an idea needs time to grow into something bigger than what it started as. That's when you plant the seed and just let it percolate a little. You may find that as you come back to it in a few hours, or days or weeks, you'll be able to see what you couldn't before which solves a lot of your planning and plotting issues. I've used this so many times, and not even just for book stuff, but uni essays and other writing things. I even do it with blog posts from time to time as well.

So those are my four tips on how to make an idea work. Sometimes it can be something as simple as talking it through with someone and other times you need to get it out of your head. Whatever you do, you gotta make it work for you. Do you have any tips or tricks on making your ideas work? Share them with us in the comments!

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