On Plot

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.

The best plot is a simple one, clean and elegant. You should be able to state the core of your story in one sentence (also known as the one-line, or elevator, pitch): young Mary Russell meets Sherlock Holmes in 1915 and becomes his apprentice, then his partner (Laurie’s The Beekeeper’s Apprentice). A rich executive hires a hooker as a convenient date, and falls in love (the film Pretty Woman). A middle- aged crime novelist looking for stability returns to her university, only to find turmoil and murder (Sayers, Gaudy Night).

To buy a copy, visit Amazon.uk, Amazon.com, or IndieBound.


  1. Robbin Stull on December 18, 2012 at 12:56 am

    The short and sweet of the one sentence story line brings me back to your methods of research. Gather and then cut, and cut more.

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