Staying at it

Now that my third mystery novel with Mercury Press has gone to press, I’m working on a fourth. This time, I decided to try to do the first draft at about 1,000 words a days. This works well, most days, except for those days when I don’t get at it. It makes writing more like […]

Starting over

Having just finished the manuscript for a mystery novel called SNAKE (it’s now with half a dozen readers to give me their takes on it), it’s time to start again. (This manuscript was later published as SNOW CANDY).If I were better at writing short stories, I’d relax and write one or two. But short stories […]

Writing a new book

I’ve tried this writing game about every possible way, from having no idea where a book is going (too random and out of control) to having a complete plan (destroys the momentum of a book). Like the good Canadian boy that I am, I’ve settled for middle ground … some idea of some characters before […]

Starting a new novel

Starting a new novel should be called starting a new manuscript. Or starting a first draft.When you’ve been editing and rewriting a manuscript for a few months, you forget what it’s like to start again.There’s an element of fear. Can I still do this? Will it be any good? This is largely fear of the […]

You have to be seen in Toronto (or New York)

Up here in the Great White North, we writers may sometimes be under the illusion that we can have an impact from the boonies. We think we can start small and grow.We don’t have to be in Toronto.We may not have to live in the big smoke, but the longer I’m around the writing game, […]

Writing like Elmore?

I used to live right across the river from Elmore Leonard and considered dropping in to see him.There were a couple of problems with this notion.If he came through the door, what would I say? “Um, hello, Mr. Leonard. I really like your writing, and, uh, I’m trying to write crime fiction . . . […]

The future of crime writing?

News that two American publishers are cancelling paperback original mystery lines has some Canadian crime writers wondering about the future of the genre. While the British have over a century of crime fiction, and the Americans got moving in the 1920s and 30s, Canadians have only started to emerge in the last ten to fifteen […]

Is Body Contact subverting a tradition?

In reviewing my mystery novel BODY CONTACT in the London Free Press, Canadian novelist Joan Barfoot suggested the ending of the novel was attempting to subvert an entire crime writing tradition. At the risk of responding to a reviewer, I happen to politely disagree. (Both Joan and I are Canadians, and would never impolitely disagree). […]

Balancing Fiction Writing With The Rest Of Your Life

Screen-writing guru Robert McKee, in his outstanding book STORY, insists that the talented fiction writer must write full-time. But who has the luxury? And is full-time as essential as he says? If the aspiring fiction writer had eight hours a day, five days a week, would he or she use that time effectively? It’s worth remembering that […]

Begin with an ending in mind

The fiction writer has a great start. A compelling premise lends itself to a terrific opening. The story moves. The protagonist encounters challenges and overcomes some of them—whether internal or external or both—only to be faced with others. The setting works. Dialogue is strong and reflective of character. What now? Where is all this going? […]