Monday, 15 September 2014

A Trick of the Mind Blog Tour: Penny Hancock talks Plotting the Perfect Crime Novel.

A Trick of the Mind by Penny Hancock || Release date: September 11th 2014

Have you committed a crime ...or are you the victim of one?

Driving down to the cottage in Southwold she's newly inherited from her Aunty May, Ellie senses she is on the edge of something new. The life she's always dreamed of living as a successful artist seems as though it is about to begin. So excited is she that she barely notices when the car bumps against something on the road.

That evening Ellie hears a news flash on the radio. A man was seriously injured in a hit and run on the very road she was driving down that evening. Then Ellie remembers the thump she heard. Could she have been responsible for putting a man in hospital? Unable to hold the doubts at bay, she decides to visit the victim to lay her mind to rest, little knowing that the consequences of this decision will change her life forever.


Guest Post: Penny Hancock talks Plotting the Perfect Crime Novel 

Plotting the perfect crime novel is like plotting the perfect crime- if you could do it you wouldn’t divulge your secrets! However, as someone who doesn’t plot my novels in advance, I’m happy to give a few hints and tips about what I do instead. This involves drafting, and redrafting, and drafting again.

Since my novels are psychological thrillers rather than classic crime, I usually start with a premise-‘What if…?’

What if a middle-aged woman is so obsessed with recapturing her first teenage love she incarcerates a teenage boy who comes to her door?
(This is the premise for Tideline)
What if a woman is so insecure she enslaves the woman who she’s employed to help in her home with her elderly father? (This is the premise for The Darkening Hour.)
What if  a young woman is so convinced she is the cause of a hit and run she seeks out the victim to put her mind at rest, who then starts to manipulate her?
(A Trick of the Mind).

After this, I still don’t plot. Instead, I work on my characters until I can hear their voices, and I decide where they come from and live and work. I also give them relationships and internal conflicts. (They want something, but an obstacle prevents them from achieving it.)

For me, location is crucial. I believe it has a powerful effect on who we are, especially the place where we grew up.  So I choose a setting, and, in particular, a house for my main character to live in, or to feel strongly about, and then I put them in their situation, and see what unfolds.

The first draft is where I let my characters drift freeform, where I watch them deal with their conflict, and relate to the other characters. It’s in the next draft, after I’ve read the first, I begin to see the patterns, the turning points, and how the story is going to unfold.

I also identify where there is going to be a twist.

Oddly, although I don’t plot I do have an end in mind. I love endings, but feel they are sometimes inadequate, either too vague or too pat, so I like to work on them and to feel they leave the readers with the satisfaction that things have been tied up, but also with some unanswered questions and discussion points:
·         What is going to happen after the story in the book has finished?
·         Do we sympathise with the things he/ she did, even if they were morally questionable?
·         How would I have reacted in that situation?

 I hope my endings leave a reader both satisfied but craving more.

In the following drafts I do the ‘colouring in’ and checking – that the plot twists make sense, that there is consistency and that the allusions and imagery work but aren’t too laboured.

Most of all, I try to enjoy it, after all writing is creative and a privilege and you only do it if you love it.


Follow Penny on Twitter @pennyhancock

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