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On The Table Read Magazine, “the best creativity magazine in the UK“, author Nigel Dyer shares what inspired him to write his crime thriller novel, Wigs, Lies And Alibis.

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Nigel Dyer on The Table Read Magazine

Written by Nigel Dyer

So many times I have heard ‘everyone has a book in them somewhere’. Probably true but pretty difficult to know if, when and how to start.

I’ve been fairly privileged having written several business books and a lifetime working in marketing, but writing a novel was a completely different kettle of fish. It’s the difference between being asked to write on a subject that you know intimately and dreaming up something that might get published if YOU can find a publisher.

Start Writing

Start with the writing – no I started with the idea.  My inspiration came from several films over the years (Went the Day Well – a war time propaganda film, The Eagle has Landed – a Michael Caine mega-movie and The Anderson Tapes with Sean Connery.  All three had a similar core theme which struck me as a probable realistic crime scenario in today’s world.

Then came the creative stage of how would that work, followed by amassing a myriad of thoughts regarding a plot, characters and even the make-up of those characters and how they would play their part.  Plus, some plausible names – sometimes people you know!  You can always change names in the end if your choice could cause any embarrassment! Incidentally, an awful lot of people like finding their name in a book (many famous authors charge for a particular name to appear, maybe for charity.  It’s called product placement!

And, jot down things you remember, places you know, interesting things you hear or see and things and expressions you read. If it is a crime novel, then read the reports in newspapers and others of the same genre. Ask experts – I know a forensic pathologist so the medical stuff is at least plausible.

Making The Story Interesting

Look for hooks. Suddenly, probably due to a retentive memory and imagination I created a parallel plot. That’s where I go back in the script to put in a piece of information or descriptors that suddenly becomes relevant as my characters do something or say something later in the book – right up to the last chapter in my case.  So, two weeks before submitting the script, I amended the first couple of chapters to introduce a ‘hook’.

For some, I understand, the ending, with maybe twists and turns needs to be part of the plan With me my final chapters changed hugely right at the end of the writing journey as new, plausible ideas came to me/my notice. When I started I had only a vague idea how the end would play out!

I like the idea of detail to make the character’s action fit with reality and surroundings and simple things like flight times from A to B. With Google et al it is very easy to check facts, geography and dates. To my mind it is irritating when a book contains detail that can’t be right.  For example, one famous million seller American author has a character catching a ferry from Gravesend to Weymouth. No such thing, ever!   One of my reviewers even commented about my attention to detail improving their sense of enjoyment. You interrupt the flow of the reader if a fact is incorrect or impossible.

Writers Block

Writing a novel is not a quick process – several years for me with a myriad of re-writes. Then there’s the oft-quoted ‘writers block’. I read ‘The truth about the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker which put that into context for me and was helpful in realising the difference between ‘block’ and laziness.  A creative frame of mind was necessary for me – only writing when ‘in the mood’.  But others prefer a disciplined approach to writing – ‘chacun a son gout’. And having those around you offering encouragement helps a lot too.

I don’t keep re-reading work done until there is an obvious reason or a time to reassess the route of the plot. Keep going. Get those ideas down in print and let the computer help you with amends as and when, including grammar and presentation. Think of your audience: a Kray brothers type of character uses different language and, probably, grammar than an Oxford professor.

From Finish To Publication

For new writers like me rejection is almost an automatic process. Even John Grisham had a dozen or so rejections. But if you don’t submit work you’ll never know.

But, WOW, when a publisher says that they want to publish YOUR book that is a time for a wow factor in your life. Enjoy the moment!

Anyone who has been in an industry or business or trade that requires deadlines to be met – forget it! You will be in the hands of the publisher, proof readers, grammarians, designers, production people and, not the least, publicists. From acceptance as an author by a publisher to seeing the fruits of your labours may take a year. Being published from November through January sounds a good opportunity for obvious reasons but too many others target that period so where you can control timing do so.

When, hopefully, it appears on Amazon or wherever it’s a time for champagne but there’s still plenty to do. Other book on-line suppliers are more reticent unless you are famous, so your frustration needs to be managed.

And then there’s the other stuff which an author needs. Once you know you do have a book in you and you are going to write it, buy the Writers’ & Artists’ Year Book. It is full of stuff you need to know. (Tax, retail channels, agents, publishers, different types of publishing, TV and cinema et al.)

Advice For Other Authors

And one piece of advice from an accredited author friend is to seek reviews from anyone you know who has read your missive.  Most people haven’t written a review ever, so if you don’t ask you don’t get. And good reviews excite potential readers to buy and others to look at you for a sequel or whatever.

And, don’t rely just on the publisher to promote your book.  There’s a lot YOU can do by promoting yourself and your book to organisations like The Table Read.

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