This week the club were given a master-class in the do’s and don’ts of writing crime fiction with guest speaker Alex Meikle.

Alex Meikle - Author

Alex Meikle – Author

Alex knows his stuff having already self published a couple of thrillers and provided an excellent talk on the genre with lots of advice. To begin with he came up with a useful suggestion for anyone contemplating writing a novel, of whatever genre. This was to identify whether you (the writer) were a ‘plotter’ or a ‘pantser’ (not sure how you spell that). A ‘plotter’ is one who plots out the structure of the novel in great detail before writing. A ‘pantser’ (as in seat of pants) is someone who, to use Alex’s analogy, knows they are staring at base camp and their aim is to get to the summit of Everest – how they do it, they’ll figure out on the way.

Alex then detailed the main stages of the thriller genre.

  1. An event takes place – some kind of action.

  2. There is a hero/anti-hero at the centre of the story.

  3. They (the hero) try to make sense of the event.

  4. The hero appears to be on top of things.

  5. Then the rug is pulled from under him/her.

    1. Quite often the hero ends up on the run (metaphorically speaking) with sub-plots.

  6. The hero doesn’t know who to trust.

  7. The hero makes allies in the opposite camp.

  8. The hero starts to piece things together.

  9. The epic climax – where most things are cleared up.

Alex also advised most thrillers are written in the 1st person and suggested that the author should use a setting they are familiar with. Alex also believed in not over researching your subject but of course do avoid making silly mistakes. The overall effect is to try to make the reader of your thriller feel like a privileged insider.

Alex concluded his workshop with some general writing tips. Try to set yourself daily targets, After a few drafts put your manuscript away (in a drawer) for a while then edit it again as stranger. At this point then show it to a critic for honest feedback (avoid family and friends for this!). The final departing tip from Alex was to, above all, ENJOY!