Thursday, September 29, 2011


What do writer's do when they take a day off? Go on a writing course, what else?

I am very fortunate in that I live close to the amazing crime writer, Sally Spedding - stories to raise the hair on the back on your neck - and she recently ran a three day course on Writing Crime with a Difference at the lovely on Huguenot mansion, Glynhir, which is a couple of miles down the road.

Why crime?

Writers do need to stretch themselves, give the imagination a workout, from time to time. And I love reading crime, watch crime drama on the television and - like every other writer I know - I have a book in my bottom drawer that keeps calling to me. So I gave it day out.

There were ten of us including the French Consul, a criminal psychologist, a criminal lawyer and some fabulously talented writers who could write wonderful stuff at the drop of a hat. That's something published writers never have to do. Write something and then read it aloud to total strangers. Something I have never done, since I never belonged to a writing group, or had a crit partner before I was published. Deeply, deeply, scary.

I had to produce my hero and his Nemesis - and have them confront each other. I had to write about the motivation of two of my characters. And I had to write a prologue.

This was difficult. My idea of crime writing is more Janet Evanovitch than P D James and the opening of my book is very "women's fiction", but there is a crime in the present that is fired by something dark and horrible that happened in the past. And wow. Suddenly I was thinking about my story on a whole new level. The prologue I wrote was rubbish, but I was there at that moment in the past and it is so perfect start for the story that I'm bubbling with enthusiasm again.

And if any of you write crime and need someone to read your novel, Sally charges a very reasonable £100 for a detailed critique of a full length ms. You can get in touch with her via her website.


Lacey Devlin said...

It sounds like it was an interesting course. Maybe we'll see a Liz Fielding crime novel in the future? ;-)

Vince said...

Hi Liz:

Isn’t writing crime stories in the UK like bringing coals to Newcastle?

My favorite crime authors are: M.C. Beaton, Michael Dibdin, Val McDermid, Dorothy Sayers, Ruth Rendell and Donna Leon.

I just ordered “Silent Prey” from the UK on Amazon in the large print hardbound. I got a great deal!

Did you write your crime story in the first person? I like first person when the hero is the detective or detectivette.

I wrote three very short mysteries in which the keys were: the US and UK do not go on daylight savings time at the same time; the phrase ‘to table an offer’ means the opposite in UK English and American English; and the killer overhearing a conversation between Brits in which they said ‘football’ and ‘offsides’ and the killer used these as an alibi thinking they were talking about American football.

If I write a mystery romance I’ll surely have Sally do the critique.


Liz Fielding said...

It's all a matter of time, Lacey. There is always so much to do but I am reinvigorated by the experience. Maybe!

Liz Fielding said...

Vince, crime is the biggest selling genre in the world and it has the added advantage of being cross genre, so both men and women buy it. (That said, I'd put my story firmly in the women's fiction camp.)

Not first person, although I'm thinking totally from heroine viewpoint as I sit here. Some people loath first person, although there seems to be a certain amount of experimentation in switching around. Early days.

We've talk crime writers before and have similar tastes. I've just downloaded the first of the Montalbano crime stories, The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri and we're being treated to Romanzo Criminale by Cataldo starting on the TV this week. Italian noir replacing French noir in the shape of Spiral, while we await the second Danish series of Killing. Love my Saturday night subtitles!

Love your short story "hooks"; simple misunderstanding can be such a brilliant device is used well. :)

Vince said...

Hi Liz:

I really did order “Prey Silence” but after reading many John Sandford books, there is no way my mind could read “Prey Silence” as anything but “Silent Prey”. I think I’d rethink that title. I also think I want to live in the UK.


Liz Fielding said...

Well, my word, that's a lovely compliment, Vince.

Teresa Morgan said...

Did you find yourself sneaking some romance in, Liz?

I don't think I'm clever enough to write crime, if that makes sense? I just not sure I could think of a crime and how it could be strong enough to keep the readers on the edge of their seat.

But I agree, we do need to stretch ourselves.

Will we see your name in crime fiction one day?

Liz Fielding said...

There's romance, Teresa - although none last Saturday. Think Jennifer Crusie rather than P D James!