Hello. My name is Carol Hedges and I write crime fiction *nervous smile*. Look, I'm a nice person. Really I am. I drive a pink car; I have a peach-pretty blog. I help old ladies over the road (usually they're me). But. Somewhere deep beneath the surface lurks a dark, manic, twisted soul who likes nothing better than plotting how to murder, maim or mutilate people.
I have often wondered whether writers choose their genre according to their personality type: Chicklit writers are all heart (and cupcakes); Children's writers have secretly never grown up; Horror writers are replaying their monster-under-the bed fears. It would make interesting research for someone with nothing better to do.
One thing unites most writers: they usually start at the beginning of a book, and work their way in a sequential narrative until they reach the end. Crime writers differ. We do it backwards. We start with the crime and who committed it, then work out why and how it happened. Thus in each of the Spy Girl books and the three Victorian Crime novels, I always write the last page first.
This is followed by the 'hook' at the beginning, then by the bulk of the story. Sometimes I have as much of a clue as to what is going to happen next as my characters. I like this sort of writing, as it is always challenging - I couldn't do the JK Rowling 50 pages of notes and a couple of grids schtick, as I'd get bored. Very Bored. I have to walk away from every writing session thinking: Okay, how the hell am I going to get my character out of THIS?
Another fun aspect of writing crime fiction is the way that the story always unfolds in unexpected ways. Characters you never knew existed emerge from some mental alleyway and suddenly take centre stage. Often carrying weaponry. Is this the same for other genres? Please tell me if it is so. Because my current series of books are set in the mid-Victorian period and reference Charles Dickens quite a bit, I have got used to the proliferation of ''extras'' and am relaxed about their appearances and disappearances. With weaponry. As in life, so in literature.
On November 18th the follow-up to Diamonds&Dust will hit the bookstores, both physically and digitally. I have posted the cover at the top of this blog, so that you can read the blurb and get an idea of the story. As you see, it contains the two detectives from the first book - but in a completely different narrative. Though afficionados of Diamonds&Dust will recognise a few familiar faces. I hope, if you are kind enough to read it, you will enjoy it as much as I did writing it.
Very useful article. I like the idea of people just appearing as the text is written, a bit like indigenous natives hanging around your pen. I'm think of some apt name like Narrativians. Who knows....ReplyDelete
It feels like that ..I'm never in complete control of the story...used to it now.Delete
What an interesting idea - maybe our genres find us? We know we want to write but settle in a field that reflects who we are, and that may or may not be what we thought we were interested in.ReplyDelete
Which might explain why even my forays into fiction stray into foreign fields!
I think this is a good point. There are so many genres I couldn't write as it would be alien to my personality.... let's see if anyone else comments.Delete
..yes, I’m with that thingy, 'the genre finds the writer'.. I’m a closet Eliot Ness-style crime buster, ready to use as much violence as possible on the bad guys ... NUTHIN to do with a Dockland Govan, Glasgow upbringing, I assure you! a-hem... great post (as usual) m’Lady, Carol ;;)Delete
I think I'm definitely externalizing a lot of childhood trauma!Delete
I must be slightly schizophrenic then (or maybe not slighty?). I really don't know what kind of genre I write, but it's a point to ponder and muse on. Very interesting, CarolStar! I'm planning to treat myself to your book for Christmas. I'll probably be on my own this year (sending K off while I finish a certain thesis), so it will be my entertainment!ReplyDelete
oooh hope you enjoy it. As I said in the post on writing a series..the second one is always better...well, I think it is... further than that I'm not prepared to go! xDelete
I don't know about the genre, but my main characters often reflect my tastes and feelings. A habit I'm trying to break myself of BTW.ReplyDelete
Carol, I started a murder mystery last year; I mapped out a few suspects, the victim and the crime - then just went for it. Ran out of steam around 10K words and have not been back to it since, but maybe if I go and write the closing page I can get back into it. of course, that means I'll have to work out the murderer - and no-one's given me any clues so far!
Funny that... a lot of my heroines have my taste..Jazmin Dawson, the teen crime fighter in Spy Girl loves cakes and chocolate! And so many heroines have red hair and a feisty temperament....can't think why!Delete
It is a really interesting line of thought. I’ve met a couple of romantic novelists who read mainly crime/mystery, rather than their own genre, and that really intrigued me at first. But again, perhaps it backs up the theory that our personalities govern what we create. Even if we enjoy reading crime/romance/whatever, that's overridden by our characters when it comes to what we write? Looking forward to reading Honour & Obey, by the way!ReplyDelete
Thanks Clare. Afraid I find romance fairly ... flat.... I'm always looking for blood and bodies! I actually read a lot of crime fiction...some written by friends I've made via social media. So I'm steeped in gore... steeped....Delete
I read loads of crime fiction too, so am similarly steeped! My stories always have a body too, so I'm cross genre, I suppose. (But whoever heard of a love story without murder... that would be ridiculous!)Delete
I find romance on its own flat, too. I write about relationships, but not always in which people are very nice to each other; I wonder if it's because I make the characters behave as I might have liked to in the past. Actually I think it's just because I find psychology endlessly interesting. Clare, I write contemporary drama but read mostly histfic - but that's because until very recently I haven't felt confident about tackling histfic myself, though I want to!!!Delete
Predominantly I prefer to write horror, whether it's poetry or otherwise. From a personal perspective this is because my passion lies in the exhumation of all things dark and dreadful...because that's how I see life....*dons a little cheery smile...that best resembles a rictus grin*....ReplyDelete
As for that which determines the genre we write...well, it's the ol' nurture/nature debate isn't it?....Are we governed more by our biological programming...or do our experiences to life carry the weightier influence in determining our behaviour and choices?...*shrugs*...who knows...but what I DO know is....I LOVE the dark side...it's where my best friends hang out....isn't it Hedges?...:)
Yes. Is all I can say. Yes - to everything. xxDelete
I love it when characters take over what you're writing and I know I've said it before but I love your cover style. It's classy and eye-catching. Good luck for the 18th.ReplyDelete
In my mystery Murder in Caleb's Landing I was surprised at the end to find out the murderer wasn't the murderer I thought. Imagine that. www.donnalanenelson.comReplyDelete
I loved Diamonds and Dust and will definitely buy your next one.ReplyDelete
I start out with a general idea and just bulldoze my way to the end. Time and time again I discover that the murderer isn't who I thought it was. I'd get terribly bored planning everything out. And I started out reading adventure stories as a child and moved on to my parents' Golden Age detective stories, so I was always programmed to write mysteries. I tried romance (really, I did) and there are two out there somewhere - under a different name, of course - but I just can't summon up any enthusiasm for the genre. Ok - shoot me.ReplyDelete
Ditto, lesley. And I am soo with you on the inability to write other genres. I tried Romance also, and chicklit..and I always end up with a body....Delete
I tried writing a long crime story but two thousand words in, my detective is still standing on the beach pondering the clues... that was three months ago and I should think he's pretty bored by now.ReplyDelete
Same as my CHicklit heroine who has probably worked her way through an entire shelf of cupcakes by now...Delete
I think you're onto something there about writers and genres. It's true. I write for children because I never really grew up! Congratulations on your new book. I wish you great success! :)ReplyDelete
This is me, catching up with Twitter at 3.45 am. I love the personality type/genre of writing thing. Appeals to the category/list maker in me. I have theories other than yours, too. As for the making it up as you go along thing, I am somewhere in the middle of you and JKR - I know what's going to happen, I've already worked out the story before I start, though I make changes and add things as I get better ideas. The thing that does surprise me, though, is how you can't always make the characters develop in the way you intended. In my current WIP I had meant to have one couple with a GRAND PASSION that runs through the whole thing, but it ended up being another couple with the GP. So much so that the Duke of Northumberland and Lady Jane Grey have now strayed very far from their historical truth. Oh well. :^D, as they say. And roll on Nov 18....!!ReplyDelete
I started writing what I thought would be a mysterious, supernatural kind of story, as these are the ones I like to read. But my characters had other ideas! One of them turned out to be a psychopath, who proceeded to murder nearly every one in sight. I went along for the ride and enjoyed every minute...ReplyDelete