As a British crime thriller writer, I’m often asked how to write a full-length book. Of course, everyone’s writing process is different – mine relies heavily on daydreaming, boosted with lots of coffee – so here are 5 top tips that work for me. I hope they work for you too!
#1 Start. Even if the idea isn’t fully formed, there’s power in putting pen to paper – or words in a Word document….which leads naturally to:
#2 Plan it. I don’t start writing seriously until I have a plot, detailed list of characters (their looks, personalities, life history and goals) and a chapter plan. My first crime thriller, Up In Smoke, had none of this, and needed months of rewriting. I’m ecstatic with the result, but my life would have been easier if I’d spent time planning the book in advance.
#3 Read. I’ve been an avid library user all my life. News stories give me inspiration (there are some weird crimes committed out there!). Also, as well as being about the cheapest form of entertainment, reading other people’s books has made me a better writer. Current faves in the crime field are John Grisham (he cheekily bills himself as America’s favourite storyteller), Kate Atkinson and the sadly departed Ruth Rendell.
#4 Give yourself a deadline. Make it realistic, though. I’ve had to accept it takes me longer than a month to write a thriller, although I admire the fearless folk who manage to belt out a bestseller during November’s National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo to those in the know).
#5 Get help. I’ve got a team of people who help me, from beta readers to cover artists to editors to marketing consultant Donna Marie Finn. If you’re stuck, grab a coffee and talk to your trusted friends. It’s much easier to write and publish a book if you’re not alone.
I’ve left out Tip #6 – Have Fun! Above all, writing should make you feel great. I love writing short stories too, and there are six of the best in my e-book, Something In The City – sign up for my newsletter, and I’ll send you a copy!