Writing Process Blog Chain


Okay, I’ve been asked by Caro Ramsay, the lovely looking crime writer with the long blonde hair, and whose books are always being nominated for some prize or another – or so it seems like to me – to write a short bit for this writing process blog chain that’s going around at the moment. To check out Caro’s blonde hair, visit her website at www.caroramsay.co.uk – and you can always buy her books, too. Also, I’ve invited that flaming redhead crime novelist, Anna Smith, to take up the blog-writing spot next week. Anna is an acclaimed crime novelist and award winning journalist, whose Rosie Gilmore crime series is hitting all the right notes. Terrific stuff, and you can visit Anna’s website at www.annasmithscotland.com 

Anyway, here goes:

  1. What am I working on? I have just finished revisions on the final proofs of number 5 in my DCI Andy Gilchrist series titled THE MEATING ROOM, and have only just emailed them to my publisher – Constable and Robinson. Tentative publication date by C&R Crime is Thursday, 4th September 2014, so mark that date in your diary, as it is a free event – yes, you read that correctly, a free event at a venue yet to be confirmed. Prior to that, I finished the God-only-knows-how-many-drafts-version of the first 40k words of my thriller set in the USA, which is now in the hands of my New York agent. It doesn’t matter how good I think it is, my agent always comes back with some suggestions on how to improve it – his polite way of telling me that what I’ve sent him sucks!! The good news is, that this now leaves me time to start thinking about number 6 in the Andy Gilchrist series, and if I get my finger out, I can make a good start to it before I hear back from my NY agent.


  2. How does my work differ from others of it genre? Wow, this is a tricky question, or should I say, a humbling question, as I don’t think my stuff differs substantially from many other crime stories out there. What I try to do is create a suspenseful page-turner, with some grisly bits in it, and a wee bit of sex in it, too – my publisher doesn’t like me to put too much sex in my stuff, but is happy for me to murder as many people as I like. So, if other crime novels don’t have that in them, then that is how my work differs. Oh, and my DCI Andy Gilchrist series is the first and only contemporary crime series set in St Andrews, Scotland, so in that respect it really is entirely unique.


  3. Why do I write what I do? The simple answer to that is, because I want to write the type of book I love to read, which is crime and suspense with thrills and spills and some graphic grisly bits – and with a wee bit of sex. Crime and action suspense stories, and thrillers, have always been on my bookshelf, having read every Biggles and James Bond book I could get my hands on when I was a wee boy, then graduating to Frederick Forsyth, Robert Ludlum, and too many others to mention, then on to Martin Cruz Smith, Greg Iles, Harlan Coben, and John le Carre. Reading a great story, one that hooks you right from the off, and keeps you turning the pages, is one of life’s simplest – and cheapest – pleasures. So, I try to write stories that readers will hopefully enjoy from beginning to end.


  4. How does my writing process work? I’m a morning writer. Always have been, and always will be. When I work my way through that first draft, I usually aim for a minimum of 3,000 words a day, but after a few days of not reaching it, I cut it back to 2,000 words a day. I strive for that daily word count, and find that if I just work each day on a steady word count, somehow I reach the end – aiming for that first draft to be about 100,000+ words. Once that first draft is done, that’s when the writing process becomes much more enjoyable, as I have a completed story – albeit a convoluted one that needs a ton of work done to it – which I then go back through, reading and revising, again and again, and trying to figure out what it’s all about.  But somewhere during the writing of that first draft, I always find myself asking why I ever came up with the stupid idea of writing crime novels in the first place, and how on earth am I going to turn this burgeoning mass of words into a sensible story. But continued and persistent pecking away at it, somehow does the trick, and after a month or so the mish-mash of a draft manuscript gradually coalesces into a coherent story that I’m usually pleased with, and which always leaves me wondering how I managed to do that, and of course dreading going through the whole mind-boggling process again.


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