Hi everyone. I'm in the middle of writing my first Detective/Crime Novel. I'm up to just under 26,000 words. Does anyone have any useful hints or tips on putting your first novel together?

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I agree with the comments the others have contributed.  One practical thing I learned the hard way:  develop a clear story arc and write your scenes in order!  I didn't, at first, for some reason, and ended up having to reconstruct what was going on in my characters' minds and hearts to make sure what they did on the page was properly motivated.  I'll never do that again!

Thanks Lisa. I've done a basic outline and a load of ideas that I just had to get down on paper (or to be exact my laptop. I'm now starting to put flesh on the bones so to speak. It has more of a structure now.

I disagree with this advice, and think this is part of what makes it hard for anybody to tell anybody else how to write. I write in scenes, not necessarily in order, and I don't have an arc in mind when I start. I write by the seat of my pants, no outlines, and this is the only way that works for me.


I started off that way. As my ideas started coming together, I've started to give it a bit more of a structure and filling in the gaps as I go along.

I used to wonder if I was "doing it right." A few years ago I read a brief e-book called MAKING STORY: TWENTY-ONE WRITERS ON HOW THEY PLOT. All the writers chosen had cred as crime fiction authors, and no two of them did it the same way. The "right way" is, whatever works for you, and it may not be the same for each book. I know my techniques have evolved and vary. It all depends on how the story wants to be told.

Exactly. I wrote down the ideas for this book as they have come along. The next one might be different. It was a good starting point either way.

I'm in the same position as you buddy in embarking on my first novel. What is helping me with my writing is what has already been mentioned previously, and that is for me to remain in that element as regards my entertainment, watching movies with a similar vibe to what I'm trying to create and keeping my reading material in the same vein. Not to copy or to steal but to keep my mind as I said, in that element. Veered off from that with what I've been reading recently and I've found that the creativity for my project has slumped. That's what works for me, I hope you find what works for you, best of luck!

Thanks Rick. James Patterson and Raymond Chandler have been my reading material recently.

As you're writing a Detective story Raymond Chandler is perfect reading, especially if you're wanting to establish a distinctive and stylised voice. His work has been a massive inspiration for my own, though my story is a street gang noir piece, his writing really helped me to turn my narration into a character itself. Good choice of reading.

There are many types of detective stories. Chandler will help if you are writing a Chandler-type book.

Every book works a little differently. I usually know the main plot and maybe a secondary one. Then I start in. This time around I'm about halfway and it became obvious that it didn't have enough material for 75,000 to 80,000 words. So it was necessary to set up a second world to the first, in the sense of "meanwhile back at the farm". These chapters will be inserted at appropriate points into the text of the main plot. In this manner problems can generally be worked out.

Thank God for computers!

Good to hear someone with I. J.'s skill sometimes does it this way.

I'm 35,000 words into a first draft that will end somewhere between 70,000 to 90,000 words. Final book will probably be low 70's. Just had a bare bones idea when I started but every chapter fortunately seems to lead to a next chapter with a logical sequence of events. Because I don't edit as I go, some chapters will have to be juggled around at the end, and probably new ones inserted and maybe even some dumped. But most chapters definitely seem to lead somewhere I didn't realize they would when I started in the morning.


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