Writer Tony Harrison Discusses his Work in Progress

3d under construction

 

 

 

What is your approach to writing? Outline, spontaneous, or both?

I’m a little of both. I’ll jot down random thoughts at first, then piece them together in the order I think works best. Most are just one-liners, that become the basis for full-blown scenes or character POV’s.

 

Where does your story take place?

I actually have two ebooks out, with first one taking place in Aberdeen Scotland, along with snippets in Glasgow Scotland, Belfast Northern Ireland and Dublin Ireland. The other takes place in Marseille France, with snippets in Algiers, Algeria and Morocco.

 

Name your biggest struggles writing this book.

Maintaining consistency in time. Sometimes it is between morning, noon and night, while others is something happening on one day and jumping two days later.

 

What has been helpful to you?

Community and friends, both locally and via the web. HAving someone help me understand the subtle nuances in dialogue, setting and the treaded ‘showing v. telling’ is really helpful.

 

What have you learned in your writing journey thus far?

Each day brings a new challange; whether it is creating better dialogue, making my character’s more ‘believable’ or simply stringing the sentences together, it’s all a learning process.

 

Does your book feature a central protagonist?


Yes, Scotland Yard Chief Inspector Conor McDermott is the main character in the story. A former Royal Navy officer, he is assigned a case that began in Portsmouth when a dock worker who was killed is found.

 

How do you get to know your characters?

Having Conor as a police officer aligns with my grandfather’s brother who was a constable in Edinburgh. I also have two older cousin’s who are members of law enforcement, so Conor is a tribute to them in a small way.

 

What’s the overarching goal of the hero?

Conor is out to find out how his niece was drugged, which led to her death (she jumped from an apartment rooftop). He also looks to redeem himself as his tendency is to bend certain rules in pursuit of catching criminals.

 

 

A Goal Without a Plan Is Just a Wish sign on desert road

 

 

 

Thanks Tony!

 

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Strangers to Superfans. Book Marketing With David Gaughran

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY!

 

 

 

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Strangers to Superfans. Book Marketing With David Gaughran

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strangers to superfans image

 

 

From the author of Let’s Get Digital and Let’s Get Visible, this book will change how you think about marketing. Strangers to Superfans puts you in the shoes of your Ideal Readers, and forces you to view your marketing from their perspective.

*Learn the five stages in the Readers’ Journey.
*Identify where your blockages are and how to fix them.
*Optimize each stage to increase conversion.
*Boost sales by making the process more frictionless.
*Build an army of passionate readers who do the selling for you.

It’s not enough to know who your Ideal Readers are, you also need to imagine how they feel when a recommendation email arrives containing your cover. You must figure out why they hesitated before clicking the Buy button. And it’s crucial to determine why they liked your book enough to finish it… but not sufficiently to recommend it to their friends.

The Reader Journey is a new marketing paradigm that maps out the journey your Ideal Readers take in their transformation from strangers to superfans.

 

Amazon | Goodreads | Website

 

 

 

What did you take away from this interview? Tell us in the comments!

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

 

 

Author Christina Hoag Discusses her book Girl on the Brink

Various microphones aligned at press conference.

 

 

Interview with Christina Hoag – Girl on the Brink

 

Do you consider yourself locked in to one genre?

I write both adult and YA. What they have in common is that I write contemporary realistic stories about social/moral dilemmas and issues. My adult title “Skin of Tattoos,” where the protagonist is barely out of his teens at age 20, is a gritty tale about gangs, sort of an LA twist on “The Outsiders,” that seeks to delve deeper into the reasons kids join gangs and the consequences of choosing that life.

 

Did Girl on the Brink begin with an idea, theme, or factual events?

This novel was born out of my own experience in an abusive relationship. I really wanted to write about it because being a former journalist I know a good story when I see one and I knew this was a good story, despite the fact that it happened to me. Also, I felt strongly that I wanted to write sort of cautionary tale to alert girls at the beginning of their dating lives to the red flags of dangerous relationships, such as a fast ramp-up of a romance and being pressured quickly to making a commitment. These signs can be easily misinterpreted if you don’t know what they mean. Using the aforementioned example, that can be interpreted as a “whirlwind romance,” like something out of a movie, but it can be someone looking for control. This stuff isn’t taught in schools or anywhere else so girls and women aren’t trained to look for these signs.

 

 

Warning sign red image

 

 

Did you get emotional while writing this title? 

I had enough distance from the actual events not to get emotional, but it did bring back a lot of memories. However, I found that helped me write faster because I just wanted to get through reliving this stuff and have the project done!

 

Who is Chloe?

Chloe is a 17-year- old who wants to be a reporter so she gets a summer internship at the local weekly newspaper, where she meets Kieran on an assignment. She is smart and empathic, but she’s also going through the split of her parents and feels very alone. That makes her lean on Kieran all the more.

 

Who is Kieran?

Kieran is a 19-year- old aspiring actor. As a child, he suffered from an abusive stepfather and a father who left and never returned. So he is torn between loathing his real father for deserting him and desperately wanting his love and approval. This has created a huge insecurity in him, which is reflected in his desire to control and dominate Chloe. Although it’s never stated in the book, Kieran has borderline personality disorder, which is characterized by sudden, terrifying Jekyll-and- Hyde type rages.

 

 

Rage emotion image

 

 

Is Girl on the Brink a standalone or will you write more YA novels?

I’ve got two more YA projects on the burner. Both are realistic contemporary stories that revolve around social issues, teens getting in trouble and learning from their mistakes. Both are also set in the same fictional town of Indian Valley, New Jersey, as Girl on the Brink, and involve some of the same characters.

 

What’s next for you?

I’ve been working on a few short stories and then will likely plunge into a YA novel. I’ve also got two half finished adult novels sitting in my proverbial drawer so I may dust one of those off. But my gut is feeling I should do one of the YAs so that’s what I’ll likely pursue next.

 

 

Girl on the brink audio image

 

 

 

“An engrossing tale of a dangerous teen romance.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Girl on the Brink is a must have for every high school and public library.” – Isabella Kane, author & school librarian

The summer before her senior year, 17-year-old Chloe begins an internship as a reporter for a local newspaper. While on assignment, she meets Kieran, a quirky aspiring actor. Smitten with Kieran’s charisma and his ability to soothe her soul, torn over her parents’ impending divorce, they begin dating.

But as their bond deepens, Kieran becomes smothering and flies into terrifying rages. He confides in Chloe that he suffered a traumatic childhood, and Chloe is moved to help him. If only he could be healed, she thinks, their relationship would be perfect.

But her efforts backfire and Kieran becomes violent. Ending the relationship is hard for Chloe and Kieran pursues her relentlessly to make up.

Now Chloe must make the heartrending choice between saving herself or saving Kieran, until Kieran’s mission of remorse turns into a quest for revenge.

 

Amazon | Goodreads | Audible

 

 

Christina Hoag author image

 

 

As a journalist, Christina Hoag had her laptop searched by Colombian guerrillas and phone tapped in Venezuela, was suspected of drug trafficking in Guyana, hid under a car to evade Guatemalan soldiers, and posed as a nun to get inside a Caracas jail. She’s interviewed gang members, bank robbers, gunmen, thieves and thugs in prisons, shantytowns and slums, not to forget billionaires and presidents, some of whom fall into the previous categories. Now she writes about such characters in her fiction.

Her noir crime novel “Skin of Tattoos” was a finalist for the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award for suspense, while her thriller “Girl on the Brink” was named to Suspense Magazine’s Best of 2016 YA list. She also co-authored “Peace in the Hood: Working with Gang Members to End the Violence,” a groundbreaking book on violence intervention used in several universities.

Born in New Zealand, Christina grew up as an expat around the world. She resides in Los Angeles and teaches creative writing at a maximum-security prison. She has also mentored at-risk teen girls in creative writing in South and East Los Angeles. She has been a speaker at numerous writers’ conferences and groups, bookstores, and libraries.

 

Amazon | Goodreads | Website | Facebook

 

 

 

Old steam train

 

How to Shift from Hobby Writer to Pro Writer with Honoree Corder

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY

 

 

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How to Shift from Hobby Writer to Pro Writer with Honoree Corder

 

 

 

 

Do you have an accountability writing partner to help you achieve your dreams?

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

front view of trains on railways track parking in railroads platform station

Jasper Joffe talks Publishing on the SPF Podcast

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY!

 

 

 

Retro TV with an antenna, wooden Cabinet, vintage

 

 

 

Independent author and publisher Jasper Joffe talks about the success his publishing house has had using a model very different to the traditional one.

 

 

 

 

 

I have you read any books published by Jasper Joffe books? Tell us in the comments!

 

Check out Joffe Books!

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

 

Splendid Q&A with Author Fiona Cummins

 

Fiona Banner

 

 

 

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Fiona Cummins is an award-winning former Daily Mirror showbusiness journalist and a graduate of the Faber Academy Writing a Novel course. Rattle, her debut novel, which sold at auction across Europe, is published in the US by Kensington. It has also been optioned for a TV series with scripts penned by The Grudge screenwriter Stephen Susco. Fiona lives in Essex, England with her family.

 

 

 

Interview Key Shows Interviewing Interviews Or Interviewer

 

 

 

 

INTERVIEW – FIONA CUMMINS

 
Compare your career as a journalist and your career now as a novelist.
In some ways, they’re two sides of the same coin. After 12 years on the Daily Mirror, I’m used to meeting deadlines and being edited. Both jobs shine a light on stories that have emotional resonance.

 
But publishing works so slowly compared to newspapers. In my old job, I’d write a news story and within a few hours it would have been sub-edited, laid out and printed. My first novel was published twenty one months after I signed my deal.

 

 

 

Typewriter with Novel buttons, vintage

 

 

 

Tell us about the Faber Academy Writing A Novel course and why you decided to attend.

 
I heard SJ Watson (Before I Go To Sleep) talking about it on the radio and I loved the sound of it. It was expensive and I’d just left my job, so I was worried we couldn’t afford it, especially as I had no idea whether I could write a full-length manuscript. But it gave me permission to take myself seriously as a writer. I also learned the importance of finishing what you’ve started.

 

 

Do you feel like you know your own writing process now?

 
Not really. Every book has a different feel about it. Rattle took multiple drafts to get right while The Collector took one. My third novel – I literally finished it about two hours ago – is quite complex and will need some more work, I think. But I have approached each of them in the same way. I don’t plot, it’s much more of an organic process. I have a rough idea of the shape of the story and that’s it. I don’t tend to start writing until I know the first line, and often, the last.

 

 

 

Rattle book

 

 

 

In another interview you talked about talent.”Talent is all very well tenacity, self-belief, originality, and the ability to get the words on the page….” I love this definition of talent.

 
Describe your experience of tenacity and how this affects writers.

 
I think it’s about keeping the faith. Talent is important, but persistence is key. Novels are rejected for so many reasons, some of which have nothing to do with an ability to write well. An editor is unlikely to buy a book about a crime-fighting circus act if she bought one like it the week before. A literary agent might already have an author writing a novel about a crime-fighting circus act and wish to avoid a conflict of interest. The market may have seen several books featuring crime-fighting circus acts and have become saturated. The point is, we all need a healthy spoonful of good luck too, but if you give up, you won’t even get a chance to lick the spoon.

 

 

 

Kind leckt den Löffel ab

 

 

 

 

Describe your experience of self-belief before after publishing your books.

 
If you don’t believe in yourself, no-one else will. It takes a lot of discipline to sit in front of a computer and write every day, to keep writing and polishing and editing. What keeps us going? Faith that we can do it. But not blind faith. It’s important to listen too. If your manuscript has been rejected by multiple agents multiple times, perhaps it’s time to think very carefully about where you might be going wrong and the best way to fix it.

 

 

 

Describe your experience of originality and how it can benefit writers.

 
Publishers are always looking for fresh voices, for the Next Big Thing. I enjoy books that do things a little differently, that have a distinctive narrative voice or approach their stories from an interesting angle. I try to do this with my own writing too.

 

 

 

original red grungy vintage stamp

 

 

 

 

Have you ever wanted to quit writing?

 
Never. I’ve been frustrated when I can’t make my stupid brain match my vision for a book, I’ve been beset by self-doubt, I’ve ridden the emotional rollercoaster of rejection and disappointment but why would I ever want to quit the best job in the world? Someone is paying me to sit in bed, wearing my pajamas, drinking tea, eating biscuits and making stuff up. You’ll have to prise my laptop from my cold, dead fingers.

 

 

How important is it to “Keep going?”

 
This was a regular refrain throughout the Faber Academy course and weirdly, this had never occurred to me. I made the mistake of thinking that if the first chapter wasn’t right, the book wasn’t right. We were encouraged to keep writing. First drafts can be worked upon, and often, the end informs the beginning.

 

 

 

 

never give up try again keep going

 

 

 

 

 

What are you working on now?

 
I have just finished my third novel. It is set on an ordinary street but some of the residents of The Avenue hide some very dark secrets indeed.

 

 

 

 

Thank you image

 

 

 

 

Fiona Cummins

Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

 

 

 

The Collector Fiona cummins

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Write High-Volume Fiction In A Sustainable Way With Toby Neal

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY!

 

 

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How To Write High-Volume Fiction In A Sustainable Way With Toby Neal

 

 

 

 

 

Hope you enjoyed this one! Drop us a line in the comments!

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

 

MTW Large Banner 2018

The Entrepreneur mindset with Chris Ducker

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY!

 

 

Cartoon TV toon

 

 

 

The Entrepreneur mindset with Chris Ducker

 

 

 

 

James talks to serial entrepreneur Chris Ducker about the Rise of the Youpreneur and why self-published authors fit this business model perfectly.

Thanks for watching!

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

MTW Thin Banner April 2018

 

Interview with Jesikah Sundin Author of The Biodome Chronicles

 

Legacy Banner

 

 

Please welcome Science Fiction & Fantasy author Jesikah Sundin

 

 

 

Jesikah Sundin, Author profile

 

 

Jesikah Sundin is multi-award winning a sci-fi/fantasy writer mom of three nerdlets and devoted wife to a gamer geek. In addition to her family, she shares her home in Monroe, Washington with a red-footed tortoise and a collection of seatbelt purses. She is addicted to coffee, laughing, and Dr. Martens boots and shoes … Oh! And the forest is her happy place.



Other Interesting tidbits:


Jesikah owns Forest Tales Photography, and boasts a varied background in business administration and marketing, though her heart has always belonged to the arts and sciences. In college, she pursued a degree in geophysics and oceanography. And, as a teenager, she attended a performing arts school for musical theater and opera, performing in several theater productions, while also serving as editor-in-chief of her high school’s newspaper. She is married for over twenty years to her high school sweetheart and raising three awesomely geeky children. When not writing, she’s often found in her garden, hiking, gaming, baking, fangirling over all things Star Wars and Firefly, or attending various conventions in cosplay, notably Comicon and FaerieCon.

 

 

 

 

 

Interview Microphone Cord Wire Word Radio Podcast Discussion

 

 

 

Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?

 

I’m not sure if you mean “writing” as fellow writers who have inspired me or “writing” as in the stories I write. But, thankfully, the answer for both angles is similar.I read pretty much everything, from westerns to poetry to crime thrillers to the classics to everything in-between. Though, my main book diet is young adult science fiction and fantasy. My brain is author and story alphabet soup at this point. I’ve also lived in two vastly different states, in three vastly different geographical areas, and traveled all over North and parts of South America. These experiences make a great marinade for the imagination.  Additionally, I spent my formative years immersed in the liberal arts (dance, opera, theater, competition choir) while studying for a degree in science (geophysics, oceanography, and ethnoscience). The combination? Weird, genre-mash-up stories, that blend the arts and sciences, and explore people, culture, geographies, and their relationship with the environments they find themselves in.   

 

 

 

Science fiction Biodome

 

 

 

Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.

Well, it was all rather simple. Sunny did all the hard work and I got to enjoy the fruits of his labor with commentary. Usually I’d see a notice in my inbox that another chapter was ready for review. I’d squeal, plunk myself down in a comfortable spot, pull my book up, read along as I listened to the narration, and take notes of any discrepancies I found, or feedback on how I’d prefer something to be said (emotional notes). That’s pretty much it. A fun process on my end!

 

 

 

 

 

Audiobook image Biodome

 

 

 

 

 

Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?

Ha! No, actually. Never even crossed my mind. LEGACY was originally published in January 2014. It wasn’t until last year that I even considered an audiobook and only because I had so many potential readers comment on social media that they wished my book were in audio format. Anything for my readers 😉

 

 

 

Idea Biodome

 

 

 

 

How did you select your narrator?

It was an involved process that included far too many cups of coffee, sacrifices to the Audible gods, and sleepless night wondering if I’d ever find The One. And then I did, which was rather miraculous, as finding The One usually is. I honestly didn’t think I’d contract a voice actor because of the language difficulties narrating LEGACY would present (American and British English, Latin, French, and Japanese) and different point-of-view writing styles (cyberpunk and classical fantasy style). I’m pretty sure I cried oceans of grateful tears when Sunny sent in an audition.  

 

 

 

narrator biodome

 

 

 

 

Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?

 

Oh, the languages and dialects for sure. Sunny Patel’s lovely British accent breathed life into my New Eden Township characters. But I was floored when the written French and Japanese became real. I sort of melt into a puddle whenever I hear him speak Leaf and Oaklee’s lines in French or Fillion’s Japanese dialogue.

 

 

 

Japanese Biodome

 

 

 

 

Legacy: The Biodome Chronicles

 

 

 

Legacy Biodome image audio

 

 

 

Character Profiles

 

 

 

One silver biodome

 

 

 

 

FILLION NICHOLS

 

Fillion Nichols (born in Dublin, Ireland and raised in Seattle, Washington state) is a hacker in the Anime Tech Movement’s computer underground, even though he is part of the Corporate Elite. At age 17, he is fluent in Japanese, can hack most Smart devices, websites (including government sites), and holographic computer technology. He also writes encryption software algorithms, same as his life-long best friend, Mack. Fillion works the communications night shift at New Eden Enterprises for New Eden Biospherics & Research, the companies responsible for the experiment at New Eden Township.

 

At age 20, he’ll come into trust majority of a large legal Legacy, an inheritance he resents. But, as he states, it never matters what he wants. Ever. Fillion sees himself no different than a drone, something programmable. Something his father owns to manipulate and use at will. A fate he fears he’ll never escape.

 

His sister Lynden is 11 months younger than him. The media scrutinizes his every move. When he had attended Academy, he was bullied regularly. For this reason, Mack and Lynden are the only two people Fillion trusts.

 

He is known for his quick wit and sarcastic humor, analytical/philosophical thinking, rambling thoughts, deep emotions and convictions, guitar playing, and his fondness for whiskey and cigarettes.

 

 

 

 

two silver biodome

 

 

 

 

WILLOW OAK WATSON

 

Willow Oak Watson, lovingly referred to as Oaklee by her father or the Daughter of Earth by the community, is nearly 16 years old when the story opens. She was born inside New Eden Township (Salton Sea, California), much the same as others from the second generation. At age 8, she apprenticed with Mistress Katie, the head village spinner and weaver, and became a master spinner and seamstress at age 14.

 

Her fingers prefer to stay busy, even if to twirl strands of hair when her hands are not otherwise occupied. Quite often, she perches high above her community in the branches of her beloved willow oak tree, humming a merry tune while pondering the world around her. When grieved by offense, she feels the injustice whipping inside of her with gale force winds, earning her the family nickname Hurricane Willow.

 

Her father, Joel Watson, was the Earth Element, one of four head Nobility positions within New Eden Township. Her mother, Claire Johnston, died from childbed fever when she was 8 years old. Willow has an older brother named Leaf (age 19) and a younger sister named Laurel (age 8).

 

Willow is best known for her atmospheric personality, poetic tendencies, quick wit, deep and thoughtful emotions, empathy, and her connection to nature.

 

 

 

three biodome

 

 

 

 

 

LEAF WATSON

 

Leaf Watson, titled the Son of Earth, was the first child born within the walls of New Eden Township. He is the eldest child in the Earth Element house at age 19 and among the oldest members of the second generation. Since a small boy, he has found great pleasure in watching living things grow and flourish. Unlike most from Nobility, he was pushed through a rigorous education, which included additional studies under the tutelage of the village Barrister.

 

Since age 15, Leaf has acted as First Representative for his father, Joel Watson, who was a head Noble inside New Eden Township. But an unthinkable situation changes everything. An invisible crown of power is bequeathed to Leaf as his father takes his final breaths. This family secret propels Leaf into a position that not only threatens his home but also his way of life. To Leaf, each day seems to unearth new secrets and present new challenges, an overwhelming situation, especially as he is now the legal guardian for his sisters, Willow Oak (age 15) and Laurel (age 8).

 

Leaf is known for his kind, steadfast, and astute personality, as well as his honorable and gentlemanly demeanor. He is reserved and dutiful, sometimes to the point of self-sacrifice. Although a peace-maker by nature, he would be willing to wage war in order to protect his family.

 

 

 

 

 

Legacy Teaser

 

 

About the Audiobook

Author: Jesikah Sundin

Narrator: Sunil Patel

Length: 12 hours 30 minutes

Publisher: Forest Tales Publishing⎮2017

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: The Biodome Chronicles, Book 1

Release date: Dec. 11, 2017

Synopsis:

She is from the past, locked inside a world within a world.

He is from the future, haunted by her death.

 

A sensible young nobleman and his fiery sister live in an experimental medieval village. Sealed inside this biodome since infancy, Leaf and Willow have been groomed by The Code to build a sustainable world, one devoid of Outsider interference. One that believes death will give way to life.

All is ideal until their father bequeaths a family secret with his dying breath, placing an invisible crown of power on Leaf’s head. Now everyone in their quiet town is suspect. Risking banishment, the siblings search for clues, leading them to Fillion Nichols, an Outsider with a shocking connection to their family. Their encounter launches Fillion into battle with his turbulent past as he rushes to decode the many secrets that bind their future together–a necessity if they are all to survive.

Cultures clash in an unforgettable quest for truth, unfolding a story rich in mystery, betrayal, and love.

 

Are you ready to discover what is real?

Buy Links

Buy on AmazonAudibleiTunes

 

 

 

 

 

Award Winning Author Micki Browning discusses Writing

 

 

 

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Please Welcome Award-winning Author Micki Browning!

welcome for Micki B

 

 

Author Interview

 

 

 

Various microphones aligned at press conference.

 

 

 

 

 

  • What does it mean to plot from the POV of the antagonist and write from the perspective of the protagonist? 

  • What’s your experience and how did it help with writing?



The best writing advice I ever received was to plot from the point of view of the antagonist and write from the perspective of the protagonist. Simple, right? But it was an a-ha moment for me.

 

 

 

 

light bulb moment

 

 

 
A bit of background. Like most writers, I have a couple of practice manuscripts currently occupying space in the bottom of a drawer. They both garnered decent feedback from agents, but the novels were episodic—most of the second act chapters could have been rearranged without affecting the story. I wasn’t building on prior events. Why? Because I didn’t know what my antagonist was doing behind the scenes.

 

 

 

 

antagonist behind the scenes

 

 

 
I think most writers put a great deal of thought into the character development of their heroes, but they tend to give their antagonist short shrift. But think about it—the antagonist is the character that drives the story. It is his or her actions that the protagonist must address.

 

 
For most of my adult life, I was a police officer. Part of the job description involved investigating crimes. Most incidents began when someone called 9-1- 1. Upon arrival, I’d try to piece together what happened by observing the scene, obtaining witness statements, and collecting physical evidence. Armed with this information, I’d search databases, develop additional contacts, run down new leads.

 

I was a first responder—just like my protagonist.

 

 

Police Officer grabbing his gun

 

 

 
Imagine how easy police work would be if an officer knew before being dispatched to the scene exactly how the criminal had planned the crime, what motivated the person to do such a nefarious deed, and what steps he’d taken to avoid detection.

 

 
As a writer, you can do that!

 

 

 

 

 

Police work Micki B

 

 

 

 
To combat my story-structure issues, I enrolled in a plotting course for mystery and thriller writers. During the course, the instructor assigned two exercises that I’ve since incorporated into the planning stage of every story I write.

 

 
The first exercise explains the antagonist’s motivation for doing what he did. I write it in first person and it essentially creates the backstory of the character. The first line of this exercise for Adrift, my debut novel reads:

 

 
Ishmael Styx is a man who knows what he wants, and he wants to be dead.  All he has to do is figure out how to make it temporary.

 

 
I then wrote 1200 words explaining what had happened in his life to bring him to this
point.

 

 
The second exercise explains how the antagonist pulled off his crime. Adrift had a complicated crime (more than one, actually, but that developed later in the story).

 

 

 

 

Process Definition Magnified Showing Result From Actions Or Functions

 

 

 

 

Drawing on my background, I hatched the plan. Knowing how the crime occurred gave me the insight I needed to identify the clues my protagonist had to notice, what other things could be misinterpreted, and how to follow the breadcrumb trail left by the antagonist. The exercise revealed some surprising options that prompted me to go deeper into my storytelling.

 

 

 
The structure of a mystery novel is such that the antagonist runs the show in the first act. His crime is the inciting incident that ensures the protagonist’s involvement. Roughly the first half of the story involves the hero reacting to the actions of the protagonist. After the midpoint, their roles change. Now your protagonist is hot on the trail, developing those leads, realizing her mistakes. Sure, she’ll have setbacks, but as she gets closer to solving the crime, the two characters are also nearing their final confrontation. Both exercises will help you determine how your cornered antagonist will lash out, try to escape, or outwit your sleuth.

 

 

 

 

 

STRUCTURE - Glowing Neon Sign on stonework wall

 

 

 

 
Mapping out the crime allowed me to structure my storyline so that it built on the information learned in previous chapters. Actions had consequences. My writing was no longer episodic.

 

 
The first time I’d put this writing advice into action was during the writing of Adrift. The novel won both the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence and the Royal Palm Literary Award for mystery. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

 

 
I knew how to foil the crime because I had plotted it first.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BIO:

An FBI National Academy graduate, Micki Browning worked in municipal law enforcement for more than two decades, retiring as a division commander. Now a full time writer, she won the 2015 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence and the Royal Palm Literary Award for her debut mystery, ADRIFT. 

 
Micki also writes short stories and non-fiction. Her work has appeared in dive magazines, anthologies, mystery magazines and textbooks. She resides in Southern Florida with her partner in crime and a vast array of scuba equipment she uses for “research”

 

 

 

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