I was lucky enough to win a ticket to the Saturday of the Killer Weekend, an event that I would not otherwise have been able to attend (thanks Killer Women and Mslexia). It only seemed right to spread the good fortune by sharing some snippets. So here are a few points I took away from the workshops and master classes I attended.
Intro to Crime Writing with Kate Rhodes
- Frinton-on-Sea is a genius location for crime (but someone is already doing it).
- Even really good, successful writers had to write more than one novel before they got a deal and still have unpublished novels under the bed.
- It starts with character.
- I want to read Kate’s new book – Hell Bay – and it comes out in January 2018.
Creating Characters with Henry Sutton
- Character and plot are one.
- Menace comes from character.
- You need to know what your character wants more than anything – and this might be something outside of the line of duty/work.
- Setting enhances character – it doesn’t exist independently because it is seen through character.
- Know your characters’ relationships.
- James Woods – How Fiction Works
- David Lodge – Consciousness and the Novel
- David Lodge – The Art of Fiction
- Patricia Highsmith – Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction
Changing Crimescape (Katherine Quarmby, Matthew Blakstad, Imran Mahmood, Vaseem Khan)
- Be aware of what is ‘in the air’ – #metoo, technology, diversity, global locations.
- Listening to writers talk about their books can distract you from learning from their experience (opps – sorry).
Creating Suspense with NJ Cooper
- Suspense is about withholding.
- Make readers wait for payoff, in the novel, in the chapter, in the paragraph, in the sentence.
Plotting with Julia Crouch
- Pantsing lets you go with passion and intuition, but plotting is more efficient.
- Find a way to plot whilst keeping the passion and intuition.
- Conflict is the source of all plot.
- Plot is what happens and why.
- Plot demands the intelligence and memory of the reader to make connections.
- Use the tools out there to help – structures from books, types of plot, software, and corkboards and post-its.
- Anne Lamott – Bird by Bird
- James Scott Bell – Plot and Structure
- Alexandra Sokoloff – Stealing Hollywood
Pitch to the Panel (Mark Billingham, Joel Richardson, Felicity Blunt, Karen Sullivan)
- If you put your name in a draw to pitch, bear in mind that you might get a slot and you might have to go first (so maybe write a pitch in advance).
- Mark Billingham is the crime writing world’s Dermot O’Leary and very soothing on the nerves.
- Highlight what makes you and your novel interesting and different.
- Some subjects are so dark that they will put people off – if you must write them, think about how you present them, in the novel an the pitch.
- If you are writing something that has done before, think about what makes your story different.
- There are characters/subjects that agents are looking for.
- Character, character, character.
- Think motivation and conflict.
- Get it written and then get it re-written.
- Crime writers are lovely.
- Getting out in the writing community is re-energising – do it when you can.