Monday 5 February 2024

The Trials Of A Crime Writer: Writing What You Love


One thing that drew me to crime fiction was my love for the kind of stories involved. I loved the grisly, and rawness, but I also loved the humanity, the way that good, usually, triumphed. I loved getting to know the characters, and work out puzzles and get a chance to really lose myself in the narrative. I grew up listening to them on audiobook, and I also delved into them myself as a young reader and as a teen. It got to the point where they were all I read, and in fact I spent most of 2023 reading new crime series and also re-reading older ones. I just have a lot of love for crime fiction itself.

So, of course, it made and makes complete sense that when I started writing my own stories, there would always be some kind of crime or mystery element to it. I wanted to have my readers trying to solve clues. I wanted them to wonder if they were right about who did what to whom and when. I wanted them to lose themselves in my stories and come out the other side surprised or happy to have been right about the whole thing.

So my biggest tip when it comes to newbie writers, is to stick with something you love. Whether that be, like me, crime, or whether that be romance, or fantasy, or science fiction and the like. Whatever it is that makes you excited to open the document and type, then that should be what you choose to write in. I've mentioned before that I grew up reading these kinds of stories, even before there was a YA category, there were books like The Famous Five or The Secret Seven, stories my parents had read and loved, and passed on to me. And that bloomed into my own kind of stories, and YA, for me, is where I love to be telling them.

Now I know that it's not always easy to find that one genre to stick to. After all I am a multi-genre author and I have and do dabble in a lot of them. I go where my stories take me, but the reason I say to start with what you love is because it can then lead to opening doors into other genres that you wouldn't have thought about before. I can't tell you how many times I've had a story idea and slowly realised that it's got elements of the mystery but that is not the main genre, it's just part of the story itself.

The first book I ever wrote to completion was a mixture of urban fantasy and contemporary. It was not good. It was not something that I would ever want anyone to read in that state, because it was terrible, as first books generally are, especially in their first or second draft state. I loved the idea, it had been born of a dream, but I didn't really think about, or know really, what that meant for the genre and the plot devices that I threw into it. It had everything from normal teenage worries to a magic system that made absolutely no sense and was only used when convenient. You see what I'm saying? It was bad!

But when I finally gave up the ghost on trying to make it into something that worked, I decided to work on another story idea, one that had everything I knew I already loved. From danger to intrigue, to betrayal, to dreams, to medical issues, it all worked out for me. I ended up drafting it very fast, and then revising and editing and it eventually became my debut novel.

My point is that out of the two, Blackout was the genre I loved and adored. The other book was more just playing at writing a story rather than actually doing it right, thinking and sitting down and working out how things would go. When it comes to just starting out, write what you love, you'll thank yourself later and there is no reason you can't branch out at another time.

Any questions? Lemme know in the comments!

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