John Dean's Blog (276)

A question of pace

I am editing the first draft of a new Jack Harris novel at the moment and my big preoccupation is pace.

Learning how to write a narrative with the right pace is one of the most crucial writing skills. Get it wrong and you are jeopardising your chances of success. Get…

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Added by John Dean on February 14, 2019 at 9:00 — No Comments

Getting cosy with a murderer!

Following the news that we are running an online crime fiction course, I thought it would be useful to look at how to create a murderer!

The key to good crime writing is to create strong characters - do not stray into cliché, make your characters come over as real.So, that means you must make the villain real and not some clichéd figure from the movies.

The best thing is for them to have appeared earlier in the story so the reader knows them, becomes engaged with their life, starts…

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Added by John Dean on February 12, 2019 at 11:25 — No Comments

Events as part of Darlington Arts Festival



I am  d…

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Added by John Dean on February 12, 2019 at 9:00 — No Comments

To Die Alone on special offer



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Added by John Dean on February 11, 2019 at 15:30 — No Comments

Sitting down with your character

Getting to know your characters before you begin to write your story is critical. If you don’t know much about them at the outset, you’ll struggle to bring them to life on the printed page.

So here’s a…

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Added by John Dean on February 11, 2019 at 14:45 — No Comments

Who's writing this novel anyway?

Writers spend a lot of time thinking about the technical aspect of their work  - does the plot hold together, is the pace right, is there too much description, an over-use of back story, poor grammar, literals etc…

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Added by John Dean on February 8, 2019 at 11:06 — No Comments

Online crime writing course

Best-selling crime novelist and creative writing tutor John Dean has started to run an online Crime Fiction Course.

John, author of 17 novels and currently published by London-based The Book Folks, and the creator of DCI John Blizzard and DCI Jack Harris, also runs Inscribe Media Ltd, through which the course will be administered.

The…

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Added by John Dean on February 7, 2019 at 15:11 — No Comments

Strange Little Girl on audio

You can check out the excellent Nicholas Camm reading the audio version of the DCI Blizzard mystery Strange Little Girl at…

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Added by John Dean on February 7, 2019 at 8:55 — No Comments

Something extra

What turns a story from good to very good? For me, it is that extra something.

Whether it be the description of a place that makes you shiver because you feel the chill air coming off the hills, or a portrayal of a character so real they could easily walk in through the door and…

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Added by John Dean on February 6, 2019 at 14:07 — No Comments

The novel at rest

I have just finished the first draft of a new Jack Harris novel. As always, I’ll let it rest for a week or two then come back to start the edit with fresh eyes.

For me, that is a crucial part of the writing process and the test for me is that, if I enjoy the novel and forgot I wrote it, I must be doing something right!

The read-through is also crucial to search for problems with flow, plotlines, poor grammar, literals etc. I want the team at The Book Folks to have a manuscript…

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Added by John Dean on February 6, 2019 at 13:53 — No Comments

Weekend writing workshops – taking inspiration from your surroundings



Writers! Fancy writing in a house on a hill? Looking to learn more about how writers draw inspiration from their surroundings? Like to find a peaceful corner of a garden to write? And all with…

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Added by John Dean on February 4, 2019 at 10:00 — No Comments

How do you recognise the truth?



So how do you solve a crime when your main information is coming from someone with dementia - how do you know you are being told the truth?

Check out how DCI John Blizzard fares at…

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Added by John Dean on February 1, 2019 at 11:00 — No Comments

Crime at Catstrand

As part of…

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Added by John Dean on February 1, 2019 at 10:00 — No Comments

Right place, right time

My novel Dead Hill (The Book Folks), the first in the DCI Jack Harris series, is approaching 60 (mostly positive reviews) on Amazon, which got me thinking about how it came into being.…

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Added by John Dean on January 31, 2019 at 14:13 — No Comments

Encouraging reviews

There have been largely encouraging reviews for the most recent DCI Jack Harris crime novel, Thou Shalt Kill (The Book Folks), which explores high emotions in the world of religion (with a nod to the tensions that exist on allotments!).

I value reviews; the good ones boost your confidence as a writer and you can often learn from the negative…

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Added by John Dean on January 30, 2019 at 15:30 — No Comments

Starting off as you mean to go on

One of my students came up with a cracking first line the other day and it got me thinking about one of my favourite topics.

A busy and harassed judge/editor/agent reads so much that anything that makes them notice you has got to be good. Compelling, gripping, intriguing, the…

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Added by John Dean on January 30, 2019 at 11:23 — No Comments

In the midst of conflict



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Added by John Dean on January 29, 2019 at 14:22 — No Comments

And the meek shall inherit the storyline

I am currently developing a talk on the role of Conflict in Crime Fiction, to be delivered as part of Darlington Arts Festival in North East England (May 17-20, 2019, details to be announced).

But why choose conflict as a subject? Because we live in an age when people increasingly challenge each other and when the ‘ordinary’ man or women is more prepared to challenge those in positions of authority as well.

A world where they are more prepared to be outspoken, particularly on…

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Added by John Dean on January 29, 2019 at 10:23 — No Comments

Reviewers have their say

John Blizzard story The Railway Man, set in the world of retired rail workers, is approaching 50 reviews on Amazon - you can check out what readers think about it at …

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Added by John Dean on January 25, 2019 at 15:09 — No Comments

The long and the short of it

All writing is about every word doing its job. It’s true of novels but becomes an even more pronounced skill when you are writing something short, like a poem or a short story.

My company Inscribe Media used to run a short story competition and we used to receive entries which were not the top limit 2,000 words long but 200 words instead (flash fiction length).

The length meant that the writers had to make every word do its job and discard every word, every thought, every…

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Added by John Dean on January 22, 2019 at 15:07 — No Comments

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A question of pace

I am editing the first draft of a new Jack Harris novel at the moment and my big preoccupation is pace.Learning how to write a narrative with the right pace is one of the most crucial writing skills. Get it wrong and you are jeopardising your chances of success. Get it right and you are onto something.In this case, there are some sections where characters are repeating what others have already said in other passages.Deleting some lines has removed such sections, eradicated the slowing of pace…See More
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