Having to write a crime novel to find out how it ends!

confusing signposts

The image on the left describes pretty well how I feel at times when starting a new novel. However, sometimes I’m still feeling like that even when I’m well into it! To illustrate this I’m well over halfway through the eighth Mac Maguire mystery (provisionally titled ‘The Chancer’) and I’ve only just discovered who the murderer is!

I’m not one of those authors who like to plan the story line out in advance. I’ve heard of crime writers who even use spreadsheets to plan the plots of their books in incredible detail. If I’m honest that all sounds a bit cold-blooded to me.

The start of the story had been in my mind for some time and I’d even gotten so far as to write the first couple of chapters. However, I had absolutely no idea of where the story should go so it just sat there on my hard drive gathering cyber dust. It just wasn’t yet time for the story to be born.

I would describe myself as a hard headed sceptic who rarely takes things on word only. ‘Show me’ would be my motto if I had one. However, the process involved in writing a book is still fairly mystical to me and I’m happy to keep it like that. I don’t want to over-analyse any part of the process of how I get from a blank page to a book in case it doesn’t work any more. Try analysing a joke, I guarantee that it will never be funny again.

The ideas come, eventually, but from where I don’t know. While I can trace some of the situations to events that I’ve experienced in my life many of the ideas feel quite new to me. I often get ideas late at night when I can’t sleep and sometimes whole sections of the story seem to pop into my head fully formed. With this book this didn’t happen until much later in the process so I had to keep on writing in the hope that it would eventually come to me.

Thankfully it did. I still have a bit to work out but at least I now know who did it and why.

So, as a reader, you hopefully want to read on to find out how it all ends and strangely, as a writer, I find myself in somewhat the same position. I’m hoping to have The Chancer up on Amazon in October.


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