On saying nothing…

When I read my first Jack Reacher novel (61 hours, by Lee Child), one phrase struck me. It’s in every Reacher novel, sprinkled sparingly into the prose like a subtle spice.

Reacher said nothing.

Usually it’s in the midst of tense dialogue, at a point where nineteen out of twenty people, and thus most readers, would have said something. But Jack Reacher held his tongue. Not because he was afraid to speak, quite the reverse. It made me, as a reader, re-evaluate what I would have said, and come to the conclusion that Jack was right, it was better not to speak at this point. …


Write what you don’t know…

About 18 months ago I was at the York Writer’s Festival pitching my book 66 Metres to three agents, who all roundly rejected it. One of them took me aside, and said, ‘Look, this book is about a young Russian woman. You’re not Russian, you’re not a woman, and let’s face it…’ He told me to write about what I knew. I decided to stick to my course instead, and a year later 66 Metres was published by Harper Collins.

But ever since that conversation, it got me thinking about the adage ‘write what you know.’…


Inside a killer’s head

When writing a thriller, there needs to be a sense of jeopardy for the protagonist. Perhaps a killer is after her, maybe more than one. The killer can be left vague, abstract, distant, and this allows the reader to imagine how terrifying they can be. [nice image by Jiceh, by the way]

Or…

The author can go inside the killer’s head, show the reader what is in there. This approach is less followed, for several reasons.

(1) The writer is not a killer (well, usually, one hopes), and writers should ‘write what they know’.…