How To Write A Crime Novel | Nuala Ellwood


In terms of advice and tips for aspiring writers, the main thing is to start now. I think a lot of writers put the act of writing off. Your first drafts are about getting the idea down, get started and really work that idea because it takes a lot of drafting and editing for a book to take shape. But also I think my experience has been that a location can bring your book to life. Go to the place where the book is set, immerse yourself in it, meet the people, listen to the voices, feel what your character is feeling. I decided to set the book in Herne Bay for a number of reasons. I wanted to find a location that really added to the sense of eeriness and otherness that pervades the novel. I wanted a place that would add to the sense of confusion that my character Kate is feeling when she can hear noises, she can see things but nobody else around her can. When I set about writing My Sister’s Bones, I knew there would be quite a lot of research involved into the subject matter that I was looking into: the war in Syria as one example and also the issue of post-traumatic stress disorder. So I was very lucky to have been awarded Arts Council England funding to research and write the first part of the book. I’d seen other writers had secured funding to research their novels and there’s an element of the Arts Council England funding called ‘Time to Write’ which allows you basically the time to write to immerse yourself in the novel and the research. And for this I had to apply to Arts Council England and lay out my idea and pitch my idea really of what My Sister’s Bones is all about. So that really allowed myself to immerse myself in the subject matter and the location and that really helped when I was looking into Kate my protagonist’s state of mind. Her mind is very troubled and she starts to hear things, starts to see things but we’re not sure whether they’re actually real and with that in mind I set about introducing a range of characters and also flashbacks to Syria and to the little boy Kate met when she was covering the war there. As a daughter of a journalist I’ve grown up around reporters my whole life and always had a real admiration for the work that they do and in particular female war reporters. Marie Colvin, I thought she just personified the strength but also the femininity of a great war reporter. Her reports always included the humanitarian angle, she would go straight to a scene of ordinary domesticity and then show the horrors that war had impacted upon a family so with that in mind I was eager to write a novel about a female war reporter and to explore her psyche, also to explore what happens to your mind when you are subject to atrocities day in day out. If I could go back in time and talk to my younger self and give myself some advice. One piece of advice, I can’t really narrow it down to one but really it would be to slow down. That life isn’t a race and not to try and be in too much of a hurry to get things done, which is what I spent my teens and early twenties: frantically trying to get things done. It’s just about being the best you can possibly be.

7 thoughts on “How To Write A Crime Novel | Nuala Ellwood

  1. Sounds like an interesting book and experience to write it I guess, but as a writing tutor looking to tidy my pointers for an upcoming class, this wasn't very helpful…

  2. This was more like a history lesson combined with 2 steps on where to go to get started but the title says how to write a crime novel. This wasn't good for it's purpose. If you wanted to talk about the war in Syria and PTSD then do that in different video. Sorry but this was awful for the purpose of the video.

  3. The Mangled Nose Hairs

    A Crime Thriller
    by Harry Clay Ford

    Mangled Nose Hairs have been turning up all over Las Vegas and the inhabitants are scared. Ten murders in ten weeks, all committed with a Flag Pole, and still nobody has a clue who the Dumb killer is. Doctor Van Nostreum is a short and modest Toilet Cleaner with a fondness for Dog Turds. He doesn't know it yet but he is the only one who can stop the Stupid killer. When his Half Sister, Donna Chang, is kidnapped, Doctor Nostreum finds himself thrown into the center of the investigation. His only clue is a cursed kettle. He enlists the help of a hilarious Floor Sweeper called Art Vandelay.
    Can Vandelay help Nostreum overcome his Bon Ami addiction and find the answers before the Ridiculous killer and his deadly Flag Pole strike again? This is my crime story and I'm sticking to it.

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