HOW DO YOU PLOT THE PERFECT CRIME?

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Greetings from my European Book Tour! Alright, ‘European Book Tour’ is over-selling it somewhat, I’m actually on holiday at the mo, but they say you have to talk yourself up in the publishing game, so ‘European Book Tour’ it is (even though it’s just a week abroad to do some typing)

It’s all a bit Hemingway at the mo – I’m in Berlin for a week seeing friends and attending a wedding, and then off to Poznan next week to see more friends and another wedding. I know, how supremely continental of me. But, top of my worry list right now is my book. I’ve got a plot hole the size of north Wales, and I need to fix it or the next novel is sunk. The problem I’m having is this…

How do you plot a crime novel when you know the criminal will fail?

Think about it. Nobody will commit a crime unless they think they are going to get away with it, right? But in a crime novel, the criminals don’t get away it…the police (or whoever) unravel the crime through errors and evidence – things the criminal didn’t account for. BUT…here is the problem. The writer is both the criminal and the pursuer. So…the writer must come up with a good though flawed crime. This is harder than it sounds, because any crime you can think of that you can solve, you immediately reject knowing you’d get caught.

Crime is not a genre I ever wanted to get into. Pirates of Maryland Point was a comedy first and a ‘whodunnit’ second. But when I started out I thought all there was to comedy was tying a lot of gags together. This is wrong. You have to have a plot, and even if your books are far-fetched (Jasper Fforde, Terry Pratchett) the plots still need to tie up and drive you on.

Having been stewing on this ‘perfect/imperfect crime’ plot point for a while…I can now doff my digital cap to anyone who writes crime. It’s harder than you think. It has a formula, sure…but getting it right and not over-complicating it, or over-simplifying it – that’s a skill. And those that have it, must have synaesthesia or something, because they are prolific.

Anyway, so that’s me this week. Solving plot problems. Oh, and holding babies. A lot of my friends out here have recently become parents. I’ve held more babies in the last 48 hours than a presidential campaign hopeful.

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