Time Limits


Unfolding your novel within a tight timeframe is one of the most significant methods for developing suspense. Whether your protagonist is in a one day race against time like Robert Langdon in The Da Vinci Code or has a total of 61 hours to rescue the day like Jack Reacher in the novel by Lee Child, putting your protagonist on a ticking stopwatch will likely make readers turn more pages.
Traps to be cautious of in a time-focused path to writing crime fiction, or a short story, like my last published story ‘Newton’s Second Damn Law’. One is that effective suspense requires some set-up. If you have ever been through an extended period of very high stress, you know that there comes the point where you begin to disengage from the situation to reduce stress. The same thing can happen with fiction. It’s seldom useful to sustain a constant mood of highest-level suspense for the entire duration of a novel. Giving your protagonist a short period to solve a problem is an excellent approach to building suspense but be sure to create contrasts. Downtime offers readers a chance to take their breath. It can even calm them into a false sense of security as you construct the next surprise that will leave them more interested and invested.
The other issue you must deal with is the implication of having something unfold in a short period. Your protagonist could be on the run for 48 hours, but is there time to drink, eat or sleep? If not, what effect will all this have? As I’ve said in previous blogs; be sure that you do not reach beyond your readers’ suspension of disbelief.
Providing your character with a limited amount of time to solve a problem is a great way to build suspense, but you can place constraints on your protagonist that increase tension in other ways as well:

Different limits

Writing crime fiction that transpires in a limited physical space is another efficient way to create pressure. 12 Angry Men, is set in a one room with the jury of a murder case for the whole of the 96 minute movie. Stephen King explores this in some of his novels: trapped in a car by a rabid dog, is in Cujo, a woman and her son and Gerald’s Game handcuffed to the bed is a woman. The principal characters in the Elizabeth Engstrom novel ‘Lizard Wine’ are snowbound in the car with a menacing ex-convict.
It is also possible to challenge your character in other ways, too. The protagonist of King’s The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon cannot find their way within the woods. If your protagonist is in a different country where they cannot speak the language or has run out of money, what happens? By reducing the possibilities available to your main character, you will create suspense.

Writing a Novel

1. It’s so Easy to Talk About Writing a Book, But…
When I was at University, I used to read a lot of Raymond Chandler and Tom Clancy books about Philip Marlowe and Jack Ryan. I even went to see The Hunt for Red October at the cinema. I recently read Andy Weir’s The Martian and saw the movie, but the novel can set you in reality, and the film can only show you things that the filmmakers can provide. The one-third gravity being an example. I then saw Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit at the movies and thought as that was Jack Ryan I’m sure Tom Clancy wrote a novel. He didn’t as he died before that story had begun.

I started with an undercover agent in Russia, who was about to get instructions on a case. I did not plan or outline anything. The thought just occurred to me, so I began the novel, as I was Pantsing it. I finished the opening scene and then thought, “What happens now?” There is more to creating a story that imagination can give you in one moment, and it stopped there. What followed was a year and a half of deciding which type of outline and which sub-genre of crime fiction in which to write.










Subplots That Don’t Suport The Main Arc

Don’t include novel subplots that don’t promote your main story arcs
Subplots are useful for many reasons. A good subplot:

* Breaks up the monotony of the central plotline with the primary character goals
* Gives you the possibility to introduce fascinating secondary characters who will be necessary to the action of your story going forward
* It supports and intensifies the reader’s understanding of the main character arcs

The third case is especially vital. If you pepper your tale with subplots that don’t propel the story towards its resolution in any way, this can slacken the pace. The diversion can make the narrative start to feel wandering and aimless.

An example of the type of subplot: In Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov discovers, via a letter from the mother, that the sister Dounia plans to marry a man that she does not love for financial security. This marriage despite her man seeming close-fisted and moderate in his views of the wife’s duty. Raskolnikov’s mother recommends that Dounia will marry directly to ease her brother’s finances so to help him obtain work in the long term for her intended husband.

Raskolnikov loathes the idea of the match. Auch that the subplot of Dounia’s marriage proposal in Crime and Punishment builds the sense of despair that drives Raskolnikov to kill for money. Similarly, prioritise subplots that increase narrative suspense and tension and propel your story towards approaching developments in your main characters’ arcs.

Use Signposts in Your Writing

If you want somebody to read your text, you need to make sure that you’re presenting it as smooth as possible for them to do so. If someone feels lost while I’m reading your work—if the readers have no idea what the point is or where you’re going in the novel—they’re probably going to stop reading. Also, if I can’t skim your post to find the information I’m looking for, or to figure out if I do want to read the whole thing, Then they’re not likely to read the post.

How to fix this problem:
You should plan before you begin writing, what you’re going to write in the form of a brainstorm. You could write down all the points you’re going to make or the various subheadings you’re going to cover.
Then, as you’re writing, you should make sure there is a clear signpost to your text with including:
* an introduction telling your readers what you’re going to be speaking about
* subheadings for each position you make
* words that say to your reader what’s happening (e.g., ‘firstly’, ‘last’, etc.)
* a conclusion that wraps up what you’ve talked about and why it’s essential.

The Use of i.e. and e.g. correctly

I.e. indicates that is, and, e.g. means for example.

How to fix it
Whenever you write it, reread the sentence in your head with the full version, that is where the shortened version (i.e.) is. If it doesn’t make sense, then change it.
Additional tip:
While not a universally used convention, I recommend punctuating like this:
e.g.,        i.e.,

Why? If you were writing for example in a sentence, how would you write it?
For example,        that is,

You would include commas, right? So why wouldn’t you contain commas in the shortened versions? Plus, you look like you know about grammar, and that’s always a positive.


Proofreading is at the centre of numerous—if not all—of these cases. If you want to make sure that your writing comes across as professional, then proofreading is such a necessary step.

Here’s how to fix the problem:
If you can’t support an editor to look at everything you write to guarantee that you find these sorts of simple errors, you still have several options.

You could:
* Develop your proofreading checklist that includes the words you know you get wrong often or the mistakes you make a lot.
* Get a proofreading buddy.
* Learn some proofreading tricks.
* Work with me to create your checklist. I can pinpoint the errors you make often and should watch out for, and then hop on a Skype call with you to go through them together and make sure you understand everything.

So, those are my tips for making your writing more professional by reducing simple errors. Let me know in the comments if you have been making any of these. Or, if you have noticed other mistakes that you think are unprofessional and have an easy fix, please let me know about those, so I can add those too!

Common Activities of a P.I.

The following is a list of typical things a private investigator would be doing on a general week:

  • Finding a current or past address for someone.
  • Finding a date of birth.
  • The locating of death records.
  • The location of marriage records.
  • The task of going through someone’s dustbin rubbish for information on what they use an eat, drink, and general lifestyle.
  • Determine the current value of a property.
  • Tracking a wife/husband and finding evidence of a secret affair or lover.
  • Research family history.
  • Obtaining drug record history.
  • The location of past videos or News reports.

Ideas for First Time Crime Writers

Tips For The New Crime Writer

1. Create a frightening antagonist. Make him or her three-dimensional. A valid way to do this is giving them a personal association to the protagonist other than by the crime.
2. Put your protagonist in an unfortunate position – how did the narrator get there in that situation?
3. Make sure your protagonist risks something significant to them, for example, an investigator could risk their career, or jeopardise a relationship to catch the antagonist.
4. Give your protagonist a particular motive, for instance, spite,, revenge, justice, survival, and isolate them from their comfort zones.
5. Nothing – no matter how exciting it seems to you – should be left in, every word should do a part in progressing the story. If a word or sentence does not serve the plot, delete it. The story must involve the reader. The precise way to do this is to generate problems that have significant consequences.

Improving Your Writing

Here are 19 tips that I have learned, that can improve the next piece you write.

1. Know your intended reader in a sub-genre.
2. This means more than knowing a few things like; how old they are, their average income. To know the readers means you understand their fears, frustrations, and aspirations. Writing from the reader’s perspective will dramatically change the way you write.
3. Know your purpose and goal.
4. Every time you write be it a blog post, press release, video script, or anything else, it must have only one objective. This objective is what forces you to write with crystal-clear focus.
5. Use short words.
6. To persuade, you need to be easy to understand. I hate words that are put in the text just to obfuscate the meaning, lol. Don’t show off with how many big words you know.
7. Use short sentences as these slow down the passage of time and are employed in scenes where a significant action is taking place.
8. Your thoughts can come across more clearly in small sentences.
9. Use short paragraphs.
10. If the reader turns a page and sees nothing but a grey text filled page, it will bring on a feeling of depression to read that page. Whereas if there are line breaks and paragraphs then there will be more white and the reader will be happy to read further.
11. Use active language.
12. Active language is dynamic and entertaining. Passive language is tedious. How do you know which is which? In active sentences, the subject is performing the action:
“Bob fixes cars.”
In a passive sentence, the purpose of the action becomes the subject of the sentence. For example, instead of saying, “Bob fixes cars,” It might say,
“The cars are fixed by Bob.”
Passive writing presents your idea poorly. It feels “backwards.” It’s also exceedingly difficult for many readers to understand. Write with power. Use active language.
13. Write recklessly, re-write ruthlessly.
14. When you are writing the first draft, it’s okay if it’s awful. In other words, right carelessly, taking no care about the line edits. When you have the first draft on the paper, filled with power and energy. Then you can clean up any “messes” you might’ve made in the text. Be ruthless while you re-write.
15. Have a writing routine.
16. You already have a “recipe” for the writing. You are perhaps conscious of it, although it may not be excellent, you do have a general procedure to follow when it’s time to write; it’s called an outline. The elements of that outline can include where you write, what time of day, with what tools and drinks, temperature and sounds, the software you use, such as Grammarly, Scrivener, Marked 2, Hemingway Editor, Cliche Finder, the Online Text Corrector, etc.
17. Let your writing “age with time,” and when you come back to it fresh, you may see the text more clearly.
18. After you have completed your first draft, then put it away for a week or two. Let it “age.” I know this is almost impossible as you may have been living the story and researching it morning, noon and night. On your return to it with fresh eyes, potential improvements will almost leap off the page.
19. Finish writing your first draft before getting feedback. I have written a few short stories and put the first draft, complete with grammatical errors, into a group of people who make comments.

Use these simple techniques, and I practically guarantee your writing should improve. I am currently looking at the Iambic Pentameter and will report my findings soon.

Maintaining the Suspension of Disbelief


In fiction writing, it is the primary intention of the writer to attain and maintain the suspension of disbelief. The further away from reality the manuscript goes, the more doubt enters the reader’s mind. Apparently, if the genre is Fantasy then a new world may be built, and the activities within that world must be consistent. However, if someone is on an alien planet, with different animals and life forms but has a chicken sandwich for lunch, then there arises an element of disbelief.
In the genre Crime Fiction set in the UK in present times, the greater I leave reality, the more the scepticism becomes a problem. Everything must be a realistic action within the format of life in the UK, and then the suspension of disbelief will continue without a problem. The fiction I write is just a scenario that has not occurred, but is feasible to occur. The actions people make have not occurred, but would be likely in that particular case.