Tips on coming up with a new story/book | UK Crime Fiction author Paul McCracken.

Updated: Feb 9, 2020

This is a topic where the answers are as varied as the concepts. For me, when starting a new story, a new book, I always want to make my next story better than the last.

At the beginning of my writing career, I would jump back and forward between genres but now I have stuck to just one, Crime fiction.

I think it is important to stick to a genre, but that is not to say don’t try other things. People will come to associate you with a certain genre, mood or tone of storytelling and will know what to expect from you when you produce other works. However, if you constantly change it up, you may only get a couple of fans because as we all know, it’s hard to please everyone.

When I start brainstorming ideas for a new book,

I always think of what I haven’t touched on yet. That might be a type of story that centers around a certain plot point such as a heist, a kidnapping or something else.

I ask myself constantly what kind of stories keep me gripped and also what kind of stories inspire me. This helps me to decide early on the tone and mood of the story that I want to pursue.

The hardest thing to do when it comes to penning a new story is keeping it original. So much has come and gone that almost every concept and idea has already been covered. But if there is one thing I have learned in my time writing, it’s not always the concept that makes a story feel fresh and original, it is how it is told.

Ask yourself, how many times have you read the same stories?

  • Like when a detective faces an illusive serial killer.

  • A man’s wife goes missing on holiday.

  • A soldier falls behind enemy lines and slowly integrates and starts fighting for the other side?

Then there are completely original concepts like;

  • Fight club

  • Silence of the Lambs

  • Inception

Whatever the new story may be, it will have to keep your interest for the duration of writing it from start to finish. It is a lengthy investment so make sure you are certain before venturing into it. I try my best to be my own worst critic before starting the journey as I don’t want to be half a book deep when I realize the whole story idea or direction of the story is flawed.

Seek out every potential plot hole, anything that doesn’t potentially make sense or leaves a loose end. Be very mean and very harsh on yourself because if you don’t do this early and answer all of the questions, your readers may not be as forgiving.

Write what you want, not what sells

I think this is some of the best advice you can receive as a writer. If you focus too much on pleasing the market then your story might suffer as well as your writing. If you are writing for fortune and fame, it’s a slippery slope.

Instead, write the story that you want to tell regardless of what is selling or what is popular. Everyone wants to be the next Stephen King or J.K Rowling but imitation does not lead to success or critical acclaim. Write what you feel strongly about, what you know and what motivates and interests you.

Treat your characters the same. Don’t make them blatant rip-offs of established household name characters like Jack Reacher or Sherlock Holmes. These type of characters may only come along in a writer’s career once if they’re lucky. Which is also why they keep appearing book after book. A well crafted character can make an author if they hit the mark but that is because they are original and appeal to the audience. There are a lot of James Bond rip-offs out there that fall flat on their face because we know what they are from the start, just a diluted and worse version of a much loved character.

You don't need to know everything

As the subheading suggests, you don't need to know every fine detail of the story before writing, unless you wish to outline that way. For instance, you may have a good idea of how to start and get into the meat of the story but not necessarily know how to end it.

Every book I have wrote thus far, I have never knew the ending to from the start, it was a conclusion that I would come to during the course of the story. It meant that I still had wiggle room as I got towards the end, I could end it however I saw fit instead of a predetermined outcome.

My novel Layla's Song is available on Amazon as paperback or Kindle!

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