Random Quotes 0n Crime & Thriller Writing

‘The way to write a thriller is to ask a question at the beginning, and answer it at the end.’ Lee Child

 ‘Place the body near the beginning of your book—preferably on the first page, perhaps the first sentence.’ Louise Penny

‘I’m interested in starting stories at the moment of some crisis to see how the character deals with it.’ Paul Auster

 ‘Figure out what exactly is at stake, and how to establish it quickly. That’s your conflict.’ Katia Lief

‘I’m always pretending that I’m sitting across from somebody. I’m telling a story, and I don’t want them to get up until I’m finished.’ James Patterson

‘Life is about working out who the bad guy is.’ Sophie Hannah

'An initial crisis may produce a question, one that takes the form of a challenge to the reader: Can they solve the puzzle before the answer is revealed? In its simplest form the crisis is a murder and the question is whodunit?’

'I can't start writing until I have a closing line.' Joseph Heller

 ‘I often know how the book will end and have imagined a number of major scenes throughout, but not always how I will get there. When I’m about two-thirds done I reoutline the whole book so I know that I’m delivering on all I promised.’ Jeff Abbott

‘Crime stories are rarely about crime they’re a study of its aftermath.’

‘The only writers who survive the ages are those who understand the need for action in a novel.’ Dean Koontz

‘People don’t read books to get to the middle. They read to get to the end.’ Mickey Spillane

 ‘I do extensive outlines before I write a single word.’ Jeffrey Deaver

‘Plot develops from the initial setup of the characters, their conflicts and the location. This development is fuelled by the characters’ decisions. These choices should be tough and compromising with high risks of failure.’

‘I like to come up with a massive scale concept and throw in very ordinary characters because I think if you have a massive scale concept with massive scale characters they tend to cancel each other out. People have more fun if they can imagine how either themselves or the type of people they know would react in a bizarre situation. It’s a bit boring if you know how some highly trained soldier is going to react to a situation. It’s not very interesting compared to how someone who is an electrician or a schoolteacher might react to a situation.’ Christopher Brookmyre

‘The first chapter sells the book; the last chapter sells the next book.’

Mickey Spillane

'Readers have to feel you know what you're talking about.' Margaret Murphy

‘Keep asking ‘Who wants something?’ ‘Why do they need it?’ and ‘What’ll happen if they don’t get it?’’

‘A man's grammar, like Caesar's wife, should not only be pure, but above suspicion of impurity.’ Edgar Allan Poe

'Chapters are shorter than they used to be, and I have to be creative about ways to keep the pace moving: varying my sentence length, making sure each chapter ends on a note of suspense, keeping excess narration to a minimum.’ Joseph Finder

My idead? ‘Headlines. The human heart. My deepest fears. The inner voice that says: if it scares you, it’ll scare readers too.’ Meg Gardiner

Surprise is when a leader is unexpectedly shot whilst giving a speech. Suspense is when the leader is delivering a speech while an assassin waits in the audience.’

‘I’d have to say that most of my ideas originate with everyday anxieties. What if I forgot to lock the door? What if a horrific crime happened next door? What if my daughter didn’t show up at work? What if I woke up one day and the house was empty?’ Linwood Barclay

‘Ideas are not the hard part of writing. I have ideas all the time. The challenge is understanding which ideas are the most interesting and powerful and dramatic, and then finding the best way to bring them to life. It’s all in the execution, because the idea is where the work begins, not where it ends.’ Jeff Abbott

‘If you don't understand that story is character and not just idea, you will not be able to breathe life into even the most intriguing flash of inspiration.’ Elizabeth George

‘The character that lasts is an ordinary guy with some extraordinary qualities.’ Raymond Chandler

'You’re looking for your character who’s got the absolute most at stake, and that’s the person who you want your story to be about.' Daniel Palmer

 ‘Keep a plate spinning until the final paragraph. Then let it fall.’

'Books aren't written, they're rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it...' Michael Crichton

‘You can always edit a bad page. You can't edit a blank page.’ Jodi Picoult

‘When you’re editing write the following words onto a Post-it note in big red letters and stick it on your monitor: ‘Who Cares?’. If something has no bearing on the story, leave it out.’ Stuart MacBride

'If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.' Margaret Atwood

‘The best advice is the simplest.  Write what you love.  And do it everyday.  There’s only one way to learn how to write and that’s to write.’ Steve Berry

‘Don’t go into great detail describing places and things… You don’t want descriptions that bring the action, the flow of the story, to a standstill.’ Elmore Leonard

'Read aloud. And not just your own work. Read good writing aloud.

Listen to the sound the words make.'

‘A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.’ G K Chesterton

‘Write about what you never want to know.' Michael Connelly

‘I always refer to style as sound. The sound of the writing.’ Elmore Leonard

‘Before you can be a writer you have to experience some things, see some of the world, go through things – love, heartbreak, and so on -, because you need to have something to say.’  John  Grisham

‘Writing is work. It’s also gambling. You don’t get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but ­essentially you’re on your own. ­Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don’t whine. Margaret Atwood

'The words characters use and the gestures they make should be enough for the reader to know who is talking and how they’re feeling.'

 ‘I try to leave out the parts that people skip.’ Elmore Leonard

 ‘Writing is the flip side of sex - it's good only when it's over.’ Hunter S Thompson

 ‘My task, which I am trying to achieve, is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel - it is, before all, to make you see.’ Joseph Conrad

 ‘Write every day even if it is just a paragraph.’ Michael Connelly

‘All the information you need can be given in dialogue.’ Elmore Leonard

‘Have something you want to say.’ Ian Rankin

 ‘Any author, like their protagonist, must endure sacrifice, or be willing to do so.’

‘There are only two pieces of advice any would-be writer needs. The first is Give up. Those who heed that don’t need to hear the second, which is Don’t give up.’ Mick Herron

'My purpose is to entertain myself first and other people secondly.' John D MacDonald

‘I never read a review of my own work. Either it was going to depress me or puff me up in ways that are useless.’ Paul Auster

‘I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite.’ G K Chesterton