Monday 22 April 2024

The Trials Of A Crime Writer: No Wrong Way To Write


If there's one thing that grinds my gears when it comes to writing advice, no matter what speciality the author is referring to, it's the idea that you have to do it a certain way or you're doing it wrong. The only genre that I can think of that has a proviso that if the author doesn't meet, it's not in that genre, is romance, and that proviso is the happy ever after. If the couple do not stay together by the end of the book, not a romance. Simple, right? But every other genre pretty much can be that genre without any big provisos.

I mean, before someone comes for me in the comments, yes, you need genre standards, like a crime, needs some kind of crime main plot. A sci-fi needs some of the futuristic and science fiction plot. I could go on, but I think you get my point. All of that aside, there is no wrong way to write a crime novel. So long as the plot is there, there's no wrong way to do it. You can tell it from one perspective or several. You can reveal the killer/bad guy at the start and just have everyone else trying to work out who it is. If you can think of it, it's probably been done before, and it's not wrong to do it that way.

The reason it annoys me is that too much of the time, writing advice is framed as: this is my way, therefore the best way, and also the only way. And that's just not true. There are so many different ways to plan, to plot, to draft, to revise, to edit, and that's not even getting into the details within the book. There is no wrong way to do any part of the writing process, except, possibly, skipping over things like the professional edit and the like, but even then, that's a choice you, as the author, make, and your readers will let you know what they think about that.

I've been writing seriously since I was 19, I'm 42 now, and I gotta say, there have been a lot of 'wrong' ways about the way I approach everything from drafting, to revision, to genres, to the fact that I have one name and publish all my young adult books under it, even though they're not all the same genre. I have been doing it 'wrong' for almost 19 years, but you know what? My readers love my work. I'm not going to exclaim that I'm a best seller, because I'm not, but the stories those books were written for, they hit home, they achieve their goals, and they are the exact stories they were meant to be, and that counts for something.

But this isn't about my mistakes or wrongness, but about showing that you can write any way you please, and it's not wrong. The beauty of humanity is that we are all different and we all approach things differently. Like I've said before, you and I could have the exact same idea, like everything the same from plot, to characters, to setting, to genre and tropes, and the books we write? They will be wildly different. Because we do not all think and write the same. Neither one of us would be wrong in the way we told that story, because it's the right way for us, personally, to tell it, and anyone trying to convince you otherwise, they are very much wrong.

I could go on and on about this, and I really don't want to be wasting your time, but it really is something that I want to spread far and wide. No matter what genre, or age category you're writing, you can't write it wrong because that is impossible. I got my start with two wildly different books. One was a thriller, which ended up being my debut, the other was a mash-up of light urban fantasy and contemporary. They were for very different audiences and they both ended up published by me, but the point is that you can't do this wrong. They were the stories I wanted to tell, and I did so to the best of my ability then. Would I tell the same stories in the exact same manner now? Nope, because I have grown as a writer, but those stories haven't been written wrong, they are just a snapshot of where I was in my writing career at that time.

So take a breath, remember that you literally can't do this wrong, and tell your stories, no matter what they may be.

Any questions? Lemme know in the comments!

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