Character Motivation and Beyond

Character Motivation and Beyond Motivation drives the decisions both of the characters and the writer throughout a plot. Books on literary analysis, such as the Norton Anthologies, often lump motivation with character and identity, whereas mystery readers have long regarded motive as a full and separate category in its own right. Carolyn Wells devoted a […]

See What I Say? The Power of Descriptive Writing

See What I Say? The Power of Descriptive Writing

See What I Say? The Power of Descriptive Writing Once, describing the silly little Argentinian films starring Eva Duarte years before she became Evita Perón, Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes wrote that those movies were so bad; they seemed to have been filmed before the invention of cinema. Oddly enough, though, at some point, the film […]

Story Trumps Structure

Story Trumps Structure

Story Trumps Structure Twelve years ago, I had an idea for a series of mysteries featuring a one-armed detective. At that time, I attended a seminar by a well-known novelist who taught us to outline our fiction carefully and meticulously and then stick to the outline as we crafted our stories. In some cases, he […]

This path isn’t for you: How to Persevere as an Author

This path isn’t for you: How to Persevere as an Author I was twenty years old when I presented my senior thesis to a room full of English majors and professors. Said thesis was a culmination of three years of creative writing efforts, fully informed by an obsession with the Romantics and Virginia Woolf, a […]

How Important is Setting to a Novel?

How Important is Setting to a Novel? One of the great pleasures of a mystery story is its setting—choosing a locale and soaking up its ambience, learning about new places and the people who live in them. When I decided to write my debut crime novel, The House on the Cliff, I set it in […]

Scott Turow’s Writing Tips

Scott Turow’s Writing Tips Scott Turow is the author of bestselling legal thrillers Presumed Innocent and Time magazine’s Best Fiction Novel of 1999 Personal Injuries. He has won multiple literary awards, most notably the Silver Dagger Award of the British Crime Writers’ Association.   Scott Turow’s writing tips: 1)  Write every day.  The muse only visits if you’re ready for her to […]

Sandra Brown’s Ten Rules of Writing

Sandra Brown’s Ten Rules of Writing 1. Rewrite the first sentence of your book a thousand times if that’s what it takes to make it perfect. 2. Stop writing before the end of the scene; then you always have a place to start the next day. 3. If your characters need to move through time […]

Fourteen Writing Tips

Fourteen Writing Tips 1. Strengthen your writing muscles by writing for an hour every day, without distractions and without stopping. Then, if your other work schedule permits, go to two hours, then three. If you have trouble sitting still that long, write for twenty minutes, get up and stretch/exercise/have a cup of coffee for five […]

Why the Short Story?

Why the Short Story? I’m currently working on my seventeenth (or is it eighteenth?) novel, and I’m struggling with plotting out a manuscript that will be at least three hundred pages, with a number of characters, plot twists, setbacks, and perhaps a flashback or two. Once the outline is done and I’m satisfied, then it’s […]

History, Mystery, and Joy

History, Mystery, and Joy When planning a murder, the first thing you need is a time machine. No DNA evidence to convict, if you go back three decades. No fingerprint evidence if you go back 150 years. Of course, no insanity plea either. No psychiatry, no killer profiling, no rehabilitation, and precious little mercy. All […]