I’ve been posting some snippets from the Arvon Book of Crime and Thriller Writing, written by Michelle Spring and me. It take a multi-faced approach to craft, since it not only comes from two very different points of view, but it also incorporates essays on technique and philosophy from some fabulous bestselling authors from Lee Child to Dana Stabenow. Take a look at the book, here.
… for me, a writer who cannot afford to spend three or four years joyfully immersed in research, it works better to limit myself to a shallow first pass in the world of research, while keeping a close eye on places where I am uncertain, and then returning to the more detailed and specific hunting down of facts once the first draft stands on its own.
Then, I get to work.
Research for me has several goals. First, to make the reader feel that they are there. Concrete details are the lifeblood of any fiction, and more so for the kind of story built on clues, but the research needs to be invisible – a landscape composed of smooth Chinese brush strokes rather than laboured detail.
This means leaving stuff out. A lot of stuff, some of it really great. To the point that it hurts.