An excellent writing insight from Peter James

The brilliant best-selling crime writer Peter James recently tweeted: “I always plan the beginning, end and the first 20% of a book in detail – but after that I like events to happen spontaneously, and for the story to take on a life of its own. That way, events, and how the characters react to them, feel authentic.”

It’s a great tip for any writer. All authors are different but I suspect that many crime writers work in a similar way. Planning is important when putting together a novel but you also need to allow the story and its characters to evolve on their own.

And let your characters speak to you. I once had a crime writer student who brilliantly portrayed a minor character. I pointed out that she could not spend so much love and care on a minor character (important as they are) then forget about them, because it confuses the reader, who expects them to feature more in the story.

She rewrote the novel, the minor character became a major character and the book was all the better for it.

You can follow Peter James on Twitter at https://twitter.com/peterjamesuk

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