This is an excellent post with recommendations about writing crime. Thank you so much for your article, Connie.
I recently began reading a murder mystery where the author used a mushroom to kill the first victim. That’s where this book fell apart—the idea was good, but the facts and execution weren’t.
Using a mushroom stroganoff to poison him was a poor choice because fungi is an undependable weapon unless you are an expert. Also, individually, one mushroom may be more or less poisonous than another of the same kind, rather like people are. Judging how many one would need to kill a three-hundred-pound man takes more thought than I am capable of plotting out.
Also, it was stroganoff, which is basically beef and mushrooms in a sour cream sauce. This author danced over the fact that serving the food at this dinner party would have been a tactical nightmare. It would have been nearly impossible to ensure the intended victim got the poison mushrooms and no one else did, which is how this murder was written.
Agatha Christie knew that and regularly poisoned entire dinner parties, literarily speaking. Her murderers made everyone at the table sick but only the intended victim actually died.
This particular mystery was set in Scotland, and I don’t know how poisonous their mushrooms are, but I think that logic would hold true there as well as it does here in the Pacific Northwest.
If I hadn’t been on several nature walks with Ellen King Rice, a wildlife biologist and amateur mycologist who writes well-plotted mushroom thrillers, I would have accepted the slightly contrived fatal dinner as written and focused on the other failings of this novel.
This experience reinforced my belief that readers are often more knowledgeable than we authors are. E-readers can do the research just by highlighting the word and hitting search.
Becca Puglisi published a blog post about asking the right questions with character interviews. How do we know the character, what’s important? Thanks so much for helping us out answering these questions, Becca.
on Writers Helping Writers:
Developing characters is one of the joys of writing and it’s a dream when we understand them and what they’re about. Inevitably, though, there comes a time when our characters do and say things that don’t make sense to us, we feel they’re one-dimensional, or we just don’t know how they should react to situations. This can stall our story.
Character interviews are a fabulous way to address these problems. Not only does interviewing your character help you learn more about them, you’ll be able to note the hesitations or uncertainties so you can drill deeper into those areas. It can also give you a better feel for their voice, which can sometimes be hard to nail down.
But there are so many interviews and questionnaires available on the internet, and we can lose a lot of time answering questions that may not be relevant to understanding our character. So how do we know which questions are the right questions? Which ones will help us dig deeper into our characters and, ultimately, strengthen our story?
Derek Haines gives us advice on how to edit a book. Thank you so much for helping us with your information and experience, Derek!.
on Just Publishing Advice:
When you sit down to edit a book, you want to improve your story and your writing.
It’s a good idea to do a thorough grammar and spell check before you start. You have a choice of plenty of premium and free grammar checkers to help you.
But a grammar check is not editing. The editing process starts when you carefully read your manuscript, line by line.
If you don’t have a professional editor, you can learn how to self-edit your book by following my checklist of 20 common faults.
Since I write my first drafts by hand for years, I found this article, written by Bryn Donovan, fascinating, and also very assuring that I apparently don’t do my things in a completely wrong way. Thank you, Bryn!
I love writing on paper. Few things spark joy in me like a brand-new spiral notebook—and that’s been true almost my whole life. Writing a novel longhand, at least for the first draft, is my personal preference. I don’t write the whole thing by hand before typing it: I transfer it to Word document on my computer now and then as I go.
Every writer is different, and I’m not going to claim that writing a novel by hand is right for everyone. I know that writing on paper isn’t even an option for everyone.
Besides, writing a novel longhand does have its disadvantages. It’s slower, since you’re going to wind up typing it on the computer later, anyway. And if you’re unable to decipher your own handwriting, which is true for lots of people, writing on paper for your first draft is pretty much a non-starter.
Here are a few benefits of writing a story longhand, though. If it’s doable for you and you haven’t tried it, you might want to give it a go, just to see if you like it!
Thank you, M. L. Davis on the ‘Uninspired Writer’ blog, for your article about characters.
Creating characters is one of the most exciting parts of novel writing. Getting to know your heroes, your villains, your story’s main players is a lot of fun. You’ll learn more about them as you write, at that exploration is the best way to understand them completely. But before you start writing, there are five things you need to know about them. Take a look:
Starting simply, it’s very helpful to have character names before you start. I can’t pretend I’ve not written ‘NAME HERE’ for minor characters in early drafts, but with your key players it’s easier to have the names early on. Baby name books/websites are great for this, as you have unlimited options and they tend to include origins and name meanings too.
AdminBD provides us with a few good tips and hints on Anne R. Allen’s blog. Thank you very much for this great article.
on Anne R. Allen:
One of the primo, Number One “rules” for writers is write what you know.
Writing what you know is generally excellent advice for writers who are in the early stages of their careers. Knowing your setting — whether it’s geographical, professional, familial, is one less issue you’ll have to face when you’re still not yet completely comfortable with fiction’s basic craft elements — narrative, backstory, plot, dialogue, character.
What if you can’t — or don’t want to — write what you know?
Kristen Lamb, wonderful person, talented author, patient supporter and humorous advisor in one attractive body, provides us with a new great blog post! Thank you, Kristen.
Advice floats around everywhere. We get it from friends, family, cutesy memes, gurus, life coaches, books, television, podcasts and…bloggers *giggles*. We’re subjected to advice, whether we want it or not.
Please, let me be clear. Wise counsel is a good thing. Definitely.
We certainly don’t want to try and do this “life thing” with zero guidance. But the influx of so many opinions can be confusing, maybe even make us a tad crazy.
But these days, advice has gotten out of hand. It’s even invaded fortune cookies. Our FORTUNE COOKIES! Yes, we’ve been ordering a lot of take-out recently.
Remember those who persist enjoy success.
Okay, I’m throwing a flag on the play. THAT???? Is NOT a fortune cookie. Fortune cookies don’t offer unsolicited advice. I have a mom for that (I love you, Mom).
A fortune cookie is FUN and something we know is probably bunk, but would be super cool if it were true.
You will soon have good fortune in your endeavors.
Dave Chesson on his ‘Kindlepreneur’ blog writes about ebook piracy 2020, an article, which I think needs to be spread for as many authors as possible to know. Thank you very much for sharing your experiences and researches, Dave, we all appreciate it.
Ebook piracy is a real issue. You’d be amazed at how many websites have pirated or claim to have pirated your book.
There it is…sitting there, being given away for free.
All those sales…lost.
Worse yet, most of these sites have no contact information and probably aren’t even located in your country.
So, how do you protect yourself against these pirates and protect your rights?
In this article, I want to show you the legal, safe, and extra awesome way that anyone can regain their book from these pirates with some cunning tactics that only the most advanced computer nerds know how to employ. Even if you haven’t written that non-fiction book or are in the process of laying out your book, this is great to know for the future.
Jodie Renner posts on Anne R. Allen’s blog and provides us with excellent advice about not giving our readers a reason to reject our novel. Thank you so much, Jodie!
Have your trusted friends or beta readers told you your WIP novel is too long, confusing, or just doesn’t grab them? Here are some typical “big-picture” weaknesses to watch out for in your fiction and correct before sending it to an editor, publishing it, or pitching it to an agent.
These types of glaring gaffes in writing, pacing, plot, or structure will bog down your story and invite bad reviews, which could sink your reputation as a novelist. Fortunately, they can all be remedied at the revision and self-editing stages.
Laurence O’Bryan informs us about the Amazon Ads Dashboard changes and what they mean for us authors. Thank you very much for your informative post, Laurence!
Why Run Ads on Amazon at All?
Advertising a book on Amazon is one way to help ensure readers have a chance to see it when they are looking for similar books on Amazon. Most books are simply never seen by readers, as there are now so many on Amazon.
But first, a safety note. Please test Amazon ads with a small daily budget perhaps $2 a day with 3 different ads (campaigns) = $6 total daily budget, but only if you can afford to lose this for a few days or longer.
It can take a week or two for Amazon to start showing your ads, depending on your bids and genre, so if nothing happens in the first few days, please be patient and keep monitoring. The ads can start at any time. They usually start slowly, spending far less than your daily budget, but in some smaller genres the ads start fast and will spend your full daily budget.
So, monitor the results every day to see what your spend is. And monitor your Royalties in your KDP dashboard.