Before I begin, a special mention for long time GWC member Edith. It is sad to report that she has been diagnosed with a brain tumour. Her condition is not good though the doctors say she is not in pain. I’m sure the thoughts of all club members go out to her and her husband Cyril at this time.

As a prelude to our upcoming competition for a short crime story we had the benefit of some handy tips from optician turned crime writer Diarmid MacArthur. A self confessed optimist and hopeless romantic Diarmid has already published several books including ‘Archie Bluesky’ a sci-fi detective yarn. He discussed his books and the importance of the editing process and did provide several useful tips to would be crime writers.

Some Do’s

  • Characters need to be real (not 2 dimensional), even the peripheral ones. This is ultimately what will enthral your readers.

  • To this end develop a detailed backstory to your character – even if you never use all of it in your story.

  • Be prepared to put too much description in your first draft – it can always be edited out later. It is much harder to do the reverse.

  • Editing! Editing! Editing! No-one gets it perfect first time.

Some Don’ts

  • Don’t timelock your story with unimportant details e.g. like the latest I-phone model. It will date your story.

  • Don’t have information dumps i.e. avoid too much backstory too soon – spread it out.

  • Don’t waste too much time getting to your crime scene. For a novel it should happen in the first 20 pages.

After this Diarmid read out a short story entitled ‘Or was it Sarah?’ as an example of his work. This demonstrated his technique of writing the end first and how to hide clues along the way that only become obvious to the reader at the end of the story.

After tea we did a writing exercise based on the phrase ‘Though she is but little she is fierce’ from A midsummer night’s dream. There was a mixed bag involving shrews and praying mantises, there were mighty mice and wild weasels all demonstrating the wisdom of not judging a creature by size alone. They say the pen is mightier than the sword but as Margaret demonstrated the frying pan can run it a close second!

Oh well onwards and upwards.