Welcome a new author to ePen, Mr. Dane Cobain. Dane Cobain (Buckinghamshire, UK) is an independent poet, musician and storyteller with a passion for language and learning. Enjoy his visit, and please send him a note with any questions or comments!
How to Plan a Detective Novel
Hi, folks! My name’s Dane Cobain, and today, I’m here to talk to you about a project that I’m working on which is so new that I haven’t even finished planning it out yet. I’m talking, of course, about the detective series that I’m planning out on my breaks at work.
I’m quite excited about it, for several reasons. First of all, I think I have a pretty decent core idea, one which will let me expand on it almost indefinitely. In fact, I’ve already got ideas for the first two books of a series, and I’m getting new ideas for it faster than I can write them down.
But secondly, planning out a detective novel turns out to be a lot more complicated than almost any other type of writing that I’ve worked on, and the reason is pretty simple.
A good detective novel is interlinked throughout, so that there are enough twists and turns to keep you guessing up until the end. It’s vital that the reader doesn’t figure out who the killer is until it’s revealed at the end, by the detective.
To achieve this, I’ve been putting a lot of extra work into the planning stage, because it needs it. Usually, I’d work on character profiles for each of the major characters, including their physical descriptions and their background. But for my detective novels, the main thing to focus on is each character’s alibi and their potential motive, for each of the crimes. Because that’s another thing – it’s pretty common for a murder story to include a second murder, because that allows you to play with the audience’s expectations all over again.
I’ve planned out about half of the first book in the series, and there are already two murders and eight suspects. Not only am I yet to work on their character profiles, but also, I haven’t even ironed out their motives and alibis for each of the crimes. But I’m not worried.
See, how I look at it is that I’m currently working on the bare bones of the novel – the core story line from the start to the finish. Once I’ve planned that out, then I can go back and pick back through the manuscript, taking a look at everything that happens because that will all need to be explained – if I haven’t explained it, it can be added into the story line.
Then I’ll revisit the characters and flesh out their details, and I’ll look again at their motives and alibis for every crime. I’ll fill in a grid for every character and every crime, and then I’ll make sure that every item on that grid is referenced throughout the story.
I’ll follow that up with one final pass through the plan, and then it’ll be time to get started! Like I said with the title of my first book, a supernatural thriller, there’s No Rest for the Wicked.
Dane Cobain is a writer, poet and musician from a place you’ve probably never heard of, somewhere in England. When he’s not writing books, he’s reading and reviewing them on his book blog – SocialBookshelves.com – or working at his day job in social media marketing. Find him at Facebook.com/DaneCobainMusic or follow @DaneCobain on Twitter.