The Novelry Blog

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Val McDermid On Writing. Mar 14, 2021

From the Desk of Val McDermid.

One of the reasons for the popularity of crime fiction is its faithfulness to the idea of narrative. Crime novels provide their readers with stories that engage with their hearts and minds, but most of all, stories that make sense.

I’m often asked where my ideas come from, and my answer is that stories are everywhere. Once you train your antennae to hear them and see them, you can’t avoid them. But a story is only the beginning of the process of producing a novel.

What’s just as important as story is structure – how we tell that story. The stories that satisfy us have a beginning, a middle and an end. But they don’t necessarily come in that order. Think of how you tell an anecdote in the pub or at work. Sometimes you begin at the beginning. ‘John picked me up to go fishing this morning.’

Sometimes you begin in the middle. ‘So there we were, out in the middle of the loch, when John suddenly realized...

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