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Louise's current project is to make all her sweet romances available on the internet.
Look out for her new Regency romance, Regency Fortune, coming soon!


Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Teach Yourself Writing Crime Fiction

The next text I studied was 'Teach Yourself Writing Crime Fiction' by Lesley Grant Adamson - I can't be sure it was exactly this title, because I wasn't noting down source details in 1996. I've made two pages of scrappy notes, but this may be because I didn't know what I was looking for rather than suggesting a light read.

I've noted a technique Adamson talks about that readers are now used to from television - it's a way to cheat yourself out of a single viewpoint by slipping in a tiny extra detail. For example, suppose a sweet old lady is gardening and your main character talks with her and believes her. Your MC then walks away, but you can linger on the gardening woman for a few seconds and show her face looking ugly - or she could savage the rose bush - a little something to set up tension.

I made quite detailed notes on her way of describing a setting - and I still think they are very good. She suggests firstly describing the setting, she uses a shopping mall as an example, then giving the main character's emotional reaction to the setting and she shows you how to select details to create a mood or image. Suppose you want a feeling that things are in the wrong place? Then you could describe scraps of paper from the cash machine fluttering around, or rubbish bobbing in the fountain and make it all impinge on the main character - a wrapper gets stuck to her shoe. She turns up her collar against the wind that is whipping the garbage around.

She also makes the good point that adjectives should rise in intensity - do not follow terror with alarm.

The next note I've made is the opposite of what some people advise: she says open with a wide canvas then focus in on the suffering/adventures endured by the main character because this tightens the tension. This does make sense because it's real - I once saw a great Sopranos scene on TV where the main character (Tony Soprano) is visiting an old mobster in hospital. Tony is recounting mob victories. The old man is talking about his blood cell count. The old man's world has narrowed to the battle taking place in a cell. However, Robert McKee cites films like the Terminator where the stakes get bigger and bigger. Linda goes from being a waitress to saving the world. Maybe you need to do both at once?

1 comment:

Jen Black said...

Good to see you back in action!