Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Arvon Book of Crime and Thriller Writing by Michelle Spring & Laurie R King

This cover nabbed from Blackwell's website as I couldn't find another

This is the second book in the Arvon series of books on writing. Written by two distinguished writers in the field, Michelle Spring and Laurie R. King, the book reveals, with riveting honesty, why and how authors are drawn to write about crime. The book also features fascinating insights from twenty-six top crime-writing guests. The Arvon Book of Crime and Thriller Writing is a detailed, practical guide to writing every kind of crime story, from classic whodunits to fast-paced thrillers. The book's objective is to bring together some of the lessons and insights that the authors and contributors have learned over their careers, to help the readers to free their creative minds, while also studying the solid technique behind writing in this genre. The Arvon Book of Crime Writing captures the essence of Arvon teaching into a practical handbook for writers, packed with tips and advice from leading novelists as well reflections on the genre itself and practical instruction on great storytelling.

The Arvon Foundation runs professional writing courses by published writers and provides expert tuition and creative support.  The Arvon Book of Crime Writing is divided into three sections: 

Part 1 - Essays on critical issues in the genre
Part 2: Guest Writers - 25 contributors offering advice and tips 
Part 3: How To Write Crime

I picked up a copy of TABoCaTW last week from my "local" Waterstones on Oxford Street as it just looked so interesting.  Also - I realise this is a silly thing - it is the perfect size.  Unlike a lot of non-fiction how to books, this is only slightly bigger than a standard sized paperback novel, so it fits easily in my bag to cart about on commute.  I took it back to the office, read some of it in my lunch time, read it on my commute home, read it before it some more, emailed and fan-girled at Laurie R King (who responded to my fan-girl email *swoons* with good and charming grace) and so I thought I'd review it on MFB as I know a lot of you guys are aspiring writers too.

I love crime and thrillers.  I admire people like SJ Bolton and Val McDermid, George Pelecanos, Tess Gerritsen - the list is long - who continuously write great books with engaging characters and great storylines.  Getting the chance to sit in on one to one snippets of advice from them via this book is one of the bonus features for me.

Here is a breakdown of the contents (I apologise for the not-so-great photos) that will give you an idea of what's contained in this neat package:

Each section feels personalised and the authors speak to their readers in a relaxed way, explaining concepts and offers suggestions on how to best approach certain things when writing scenes / characters.

I knew immediately after finishing Part 1 that I needed to share this with you guys - the book might be about Crime and Thriller Writing but it's foremost about writing and connecting to your audience, about engaging them and making them want to keep on paging through to the end of the book they've spent money on.

Two sections resonated in Part 1 especially - Reflections as well as Ways of Writing.  Ways of Writing dealt with how both Michelle and Laure write - the more organic development writer (otherwise known as the pantser) and the one who plans meticulously and follows the outline.  I think most writers fall in between both of these but it's so interesting seeing the two of them lay out how they write.

The sections on early decisions (POV, series, standalone etc) can easily be transferred to writers who write fantasy, literary fiction, science fiction, children's and YA titles.  Ways of Writing is once again touched on in the Plotting section, taking us deeper into the Organic writers' mind then into the Orderly writer's mind.

Part II - is what it is.  Interesting essays from a variety of well known successful writers about plotting, setting, sub-genres, voice...a great resource which neatly leads on to Part III about getting your story across to the audience.

I say again, this great pocket rocket book may be aimed at Crime and Thriller writers and readers, but it will behoove (check me out, Sarwat and Steve Feasey, I am using the word behoove!) any aspiring writer to get a copy of this as the advice is solid and universal and presented in a far better way than a lot of "how to write" books out there.  It also helps that the book is modern, relying on current authors and advice and publishers for their information and essays - it was published just last week! - and the examples that are referred to are all easily accessed and attainable.

I'm super pleased with my purchase and think a lot of aspiring writers and fans of crime and thriller writers will be too.

1 comment:

Percy Chattey Books said...

I checked Amazon UK - Pre-orders as out on 2nd October...

Might consider this as it's my favourite genre of writing.