Writing a crime/action/suspense novel… by Sandy Paull
Anyone with a creative mind knows it doesn’t take much to get the brain cells stimulated, especially when a challenge comes their way. I’m in my happy place when writing a Crime/Action/Suspense novel. This is my passion. I blossom on the inside when concocting sinister plots and unsuspecting victims. I love brainstorming ideas. All it takes to get me started is a word, a sentence, or an observation, and the rest is history. There are many paths to take when creating a storyline, and it isn’t unusual for me to rattle my keyboard for 10+ hours a day, depending on interruptions, seven days a week, to keep a story rolling along.
Mystery movies, and authors like Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock have always intrigued and inspired me and, to this day, I analyse movies in my head for many hours after watching them. I like to know the how-to’s of a supposed crime that has been committed, and fully expect my audience to do the same when reading the twists and turns in my novels. It’s challenging to make sure that no stone has been left unturned when piecing a puzzle together, but very rewarding.
My initial plan when writing a crime fiction novel is to jot down all relevant plot points in note form before drafting a manuscript on my laptop computer. I need to see where the scenes will take me; what action will be required; who will be doing what to whom, and timelines for the crimes being carried out. I often turn to the internet and study all sorts of techniques for fighting, as well as medical procedures, and for anything that’s a bit different to normality that could enhance my story. We all have life experiences, and accomplishments, and there are times when I draw upon my own. Then I know it’s believable. There are also many little things in life that have no real consequence to anything, and these can work wonders like when the freezer starts making ice-cubes at 2am in the morning! The mind can boggle as to what the sound is if you have never heard it before. It always pays to keep your eyes and ears open for those little gems.
For me, there is no rule of thumb when it comes to writing. I go wherever the characters take me, and sometimes it’s a surprise, and even more so when you run with a new idea. Characters all have a purpose, and their traits have to ring true with who they are, whether they are a drug dealer, an informant, or just a regular person walking along the street. I want these people to be remembered, to appear real, just like you and I.
And you can’t have a crime/action/suspense story without weapons. There’s nothing like getting first-hand experience with a shotgun, feeling the recoil on your shoulder, and hearing it discharge. It’s very different to what you see on television, and gives you a new perspective and appreciation when describing a scene with someone being shot. The same goes for fighting. I love boxing, and have a martial arts background, and sometimes it can be mentally draining, working out a series of fight sequences that aren’t the same as the ones I’ve done before.
Short sentences create suspense and anticipation, and I employ them whenever there is confrontation, which is typically every other page in my novels. My goal is to engage every one of my reader’s emotions all the way to the end.
I tend to model some of the traits of my leading lady on myself, knowing what it feels like to step out of my comfort zone, and be able to multitask when under pressure. As for the male roles, I picture well-known movie actors taking on the challenge, and try to think how they would respond in a tense, or loving situation. And the sky is the limit.
In the early days of my career, I focused on writing romance, but now I am really glad to have made the transition to writing crime/action/suspense. It is so fulfilling, and liberating to be someone on paper that you aren’t in real life.