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Who Killed Little Johnny Gill? by Kathryn McMaster

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Listed below are my top ten tricks for writing crime fiction and thrillers that can please the reader and make publishers start groping for chequebooks.

1) Know the market.
Read very widely. Numerous authors as possible, less many books. Issues read one book by Patricia Cornwell or Linwood Barclay, then move on. You know their shtick. Determine what else is out there. Meaning also reading the classics, knowing the history of the genre, and reading a good amount of fiction in translation too. Additionally, it means reading the appropriate non-fiction. If you're writing political espionage thrillers, as an example, you need to know the political, military and security bacground Should you not, your readers will - and you will be caught out.

2) Understand in which the leading edge lies.
The biggest names (eg: Coben, Rankin, Reichs) usually are not the most current. They built their reputations in the past. Try to locate the sexiest (biggest selling, most praised, state-of-the-art, prize winning) debut novels. It is exactly what editors are buying today. That is the market you're competing in.

3) Don't just trot out the cliches.
You've got a murderer have you? A terrorist bomb plot? Be tough yourself. These things are tired old cliches. They're able to work if you handle these questions new or dazzling way, however the old ways aren't enough.

4) Get complex. Your plot almost definitely needs a brain-aching level of complexity, and a surprising number of well-planned, well-executed twists. Because modern crime authors have grown to be really good at developing complex but plausible plots, and also, since modern thriller writers have grown to be so adept at delivering a limitless chain of impossible-to-see-it-coming twists, you cannot afford to be below devilishly clever yourself. With rare exceptions, simple no more sells.

5) Stick with the darkness.
Your book have to be dark and tough. That's your entry ticket on the genre. What you do there can be very varied, but cute, cosy crime is a very limited market now. In order to write cosy crime, then expect a tiny readership and meagre sales.

6) Do not forget jeopardy.
Crime novels now are also thrillers. It's not OK for the detective to resolve the mystery and explain all of it to a hushed and respectful audience. On the other hand, (s)he's got to be fear of his/her life. It has to be white knuckle and also intellectually satisfying.

7) Focus on character.
Crime and thriller plots can be forgettable, and often feel very samey anyway. Characters, on the other hand, never leave us: Holmes, Marlowe, Elvis Cole, Hannibal Lecter. If you find a strong character, and fit everything in else reasonably competently, then you definitely quite likely have fiction that'll sell.

8) Write well!
Bad writing will likely kill your chances of success. And quite right too. You won't need to be flowery. You do have to be completely competent.

9) Be economical.
Thrillers should be taut. Check your book for needless chapters, your chapters for needless paragraphs, your paragraps for needless sentences, and your sentences for needless words. Then do everything over again. Twice.

10) Be perfectionist.
Excellent isn't good enough. Dazzling may be the target. Being tough yourself is the essential first ingredient. Getting another individual to be tough with you is quite possibly the second.

I said ten tips, didn't I? Who cares, here's an eleventh:

11) Don't surrender.
Be persistent. You improve by doing. You'll improve. Think of building your skills, engaging together with the industry, or getting editorial advice. All those things will increase your maturity as a writer. Now write that thriller, polish it - and sell it. Best of luck!