Writing Dos and Don’ts | Killer Reads Open Submissions

Category: Featured

Lucy Dauman, who will be acquiring authors for the KillerReads list, shares her top tips for aspiring writers…

tumblr_m6vc8zasGY1qh0nclo1_500

DO write characters we can believe in. They don’t have to be nice (in fact, we often prefer it if they’re not) but they have to be engaging. If I’m reading from the perspective of a psychopath, I want to really believe I’m in their head, because there’s nothing more terrifying. I want to empathize with the victims, the detectives and, yes, even the killers. Because if I don’t, I won’t care what happens to them, and that’s one of your biggest hooks gone.

DON’T try to imitate. It’s impossible not to be influenced by other writers and I wouldn’t suggest otherwise. Some of the best crime novels in the last few years have been homages to the classics. But whatever you’re writing, always make sure the voice is your own, because that’s the only way it will feel genuine. Don’t write what you think we want to hear – be confident, distinctive and original, and it’ll pay off.

DO think of a twist if you can. It’s not essential, but I do love a great twist. No big deal – it just has to be genuinely shocking while still plausible and something no one’s done before. Easy, right? If you’re not about a killer twist, fair enough, but do make sure you’ve got a compelling premise to hook your readers in before they’ve even started.

DON’T use violence gratuitously. If you edit crime and thrillers, it stands to reason you’re going to read some pretty disturbing subject matter. That’s absolutely fine, but only if it’s relevant to the plot. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the more shocking the crime, the better the book – I am more likely to be affected by an affinity felt with your characters than by contextless acts of violence.

DO be consistent. One of an editor’s favourite axioms is ‘consistency is king’. Minor inconsistencies are to be expected and can be fixed at copyedit stage. However, huge plot holes can be seriously disruptive and are harder to fix down the line than avoiding them in the first place. Everyone approaches plotting in different ways; some writers spend ages mapping it out, others find too much planning obstructive – it’s whatever works for you. Just remember, if you get in a bind, switch off, make a cup of tea, and revisit in an hour or so.

DON’T info dump. While naturally you want your reader to understand what’s going on, try not to over-explain everything. Not only does this disrupt the pace, it also can make your readers feel patronized. We should be able to pick up on details through your characters’ actions and dialogue without needing everything spelt out for us. In short: show, don’t tell.

And, most importantly, just enjoy it! Writing is hard work but it should also be great fun. Get to know your characters and go on a journey with them, and it will it shine through in your writing.

Killer Reads are currently holding open submissions. Click here for full details.

Killer-Reads-stacked-black-HIRES

New chilling crime & thriller reads out 14 January 2016

Category: News

Ashley Bell UK cover 054997-FC50

ASHLEY BELL by Dean Koontz

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Dean Koontz comes the must-read thriller of the year, perfect for readers of dark psychological suspense and modern classics of mystery and adventure.

Bibi Blair is a fierce, funny, dauntless young woman – whose doctor says she has one year to live.

She replies, ‘We’ll see.’

Her sudden recovery is a medical miracle.

An enigmatic woman convinces Bibi that she escaped death so that she can save someone else. Someone named Ashley Bell.

But who is Ashley Bell? And what exactly does she need saving from?

Bibi’s obsession with finding Ashley sends her on the run from threats both mystical and worldly, including a rich and charismatic cult leader with terrifying ambitions.

 

DEAD SECRET by Ava McCarthy

From the author of the Harry Martinez thrillers comes a gripping psychological suspense novel. Perfect for fans of Elizabeth Haynes and Gone Girl.

Two quick shots. One for him. One for you.

After the death of her three-year-old daughter, Jodie has nothing left to live for – or almost nothing.

She has one task to fulfil before she takes her own life. And that’s to kill the man she holds responsible for her daughter’s death – her seemingly perfect husband, Ethan.

But Ethan is hiding more than just his true nature. And as more horrifying secrets from his past emerge, Jodie’s strength will be pushed to the limit…

An Imperfect Killing - Luke Delaney 080552-FC50

AN IMPERFECT KILLING by Luke Delaney

A chilling short story featuring DS Sean Corrigan from Luke Delaney, ex-Met detective and author of COLD KILLING. Perfect for fans of Mark Billingham, Peter James and Stuart MacBride.

A STAR HAS BEEN MURDERED
Sue Evans is a beautiful and successful TV presenter – that is until she’s shot dead in the car park of her Southbank studios.

IT’S CLEAR WHO THE KILLER IS
DS Sean Corrigan and the Southwark Police Department are under pressure to solve the crime fast. Luckily they don’t have far to look – turns out Sue Evans had a stalker and all the evidence points to him.

BUT THINGS AREN’T ALWAYS WHAT THEY SEEM
Corrigan is not so sure – some things just aren’t adding up. With everyone convinced it’s case closed, he must take a risk to get to the truth. But can he be sure it’ll pay off?

 

IN THE COLD DARK GROUND by Stuart MacBride

The new Logan McRae novel from the No. 1 bestselling author of THE MISSING AND THE DEAD and A SONG FOR THE DYING.

Sergeant Logan McRae is in trouble…

His missing-persons investigation has just turned up a body in the woods – naked, hands tied behind its back, and a bin bag duct-taped over its head. The Major Investigation Team charges up from Aberdeen, under the beady eye of Logan’s ex-boss Detective Chief Inspector Steel. And, as usual, she wants him to do her job for her.

But it’s not going to be easy: a new Superintendent is on her way up from the Serious Organised Crime Task Force, hell-bent on making Logan’s life miserable; Professional Standards are gunning for Steel; and Wee Hamish Mowat, head of Aberdeen’s criminal underbelly, is dying – leaving rival gangs from all over the UK eying his territory.

There’s a war brewing and Logan’s trapped right in the middle, whether he likes it or not.

 

#TartanTakeover IN THE COLD DARK GROUND by Stuart MacBride competition

Category: News

Tartan-Competition-Visual

Desperate to get your mitts on a MacBride tartan edition of IN THE COLD DARK GROUND, signed and doodled by Stuart himself? Then this is the competition for you!

To celebrate the fact that the 10th Logan McRae novel releases today, we’re going full on tartan – and to win one of these prized copies (only 30 were ever printed!), all you have to do is join us! We’ve got 3 to giveaway…

To enter, all you need to do is tweet or post on Facebook/Instagram a picture of you sporting your best tartan (or check – we understand not everyone has a kilt on standby ;)) and hashtag it #TartanTakeover. Tell us why you’re desperate to get your hands on a copy!

We’re running this for the duration of Stuart’s UK tour, so you’ve got until midnight 21-01-16 UK time to post your picture (make sure your privacy settings are set to ‘public’ otherwise we won’t see your entry!) – the more tartan, the better! Remember, this is a piece of MacBride history you’ll be winning…

10295468_1226640840684047_4435227145061803106_o 12466017_1226640844017380_4727771391635446797_o

Competition open to residents of Europe, South Africa, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Full terms and conditions: http://www.harpercollins.co.uk/campaign/legal/tartantsandcs