…this is how this ol’ Scots Jurassic Author builds his crime thrillers…#TBSU…

…aficionados of the scribbling fraternity and sorority will be well-acquainted with the terms ‘pantser’ and ‘plotter’… are yeez the type of quill-scraper who lays down in minute detail everything that yer masterpiece will contain before yeez dive into yer writing? (plotter)… or are yeez the ‘fly-by-the-seat-of-yer-knickers’ kind of scrivener? (‘pantser’)… there’s no right or wrong way… each has its merit… and truth be known, whatever makes yeez most comfortable to produce yer tomes is the way to go… I consider myself more of a hybrid these days… I’ve got a bit of, or probably more like, a lot of, both features in my approach, which I’ll proceed to share with yeez now… pay attention at the back there, coz I’ll ask yeez questions afterward… I write crime thrillers, hopefully with enuff pace and ‘stuff-going-on’ to hold my readers’ interest until at least page six… the following schematic I’ve devised will give yeez an idea of some of the nonsense that bounces amongst what’s left of my little grey cells, but bear with me as I walk yeez through it:


…yes, Mabel, I know, I know , I know, it looks like Uncle Herbert’s pools coupon…. but there’s method in the madness, thus :

1..the top grid shows yeez a horizontal span which enumerates the chapters… the vertical span is a list of yer main characters… the idea is to track on this how often, and at what regularity these characters appear in yer novel… this lets yer readers subliminally trace them also, and they don’t forget who ‘Mister XYZ’ is, having seen him in chapter 2, then not again until chapter 36, for example…  it helps me too, in threading interweaving elements of the plot through the book, keeping the literary plates all spinning at the same time… yeez can even ‘bundle’ some of the characters together… for example characters 5,6 and 7 could all be police detectives… numbers 1 and 2 can be lovers… 8, 9 and 10 the baddies…and so on… keeps yer ‘clusters’ tight…

2. …the bottom grid represents a wee trick I learned about the way the great Ian Fleming wrote his James Bond books…he used to write in pencil, in longhand, and at every tenth page of the manuscript, he marked a pencilled ‘X’… this meant that at that point in the writing, or thereabout, ‘sum’thing’ had to be ‘happening’… an explosion, a shooting, a love scene, a car crash, whatever… what this does is lend ‘pace’ to the novel, a technique useful in more than just crime thrillers… of course, yeez don’t have to stick rigidly to the ‘pencil X’ trick, but it’s a great boon in keeping yer rhythm going (and also a neat way of overcoming any writers block)…

…does this planning negatively impact my desire to adopt the ‘pantser’ style for the actual story-telling narrative?… not a bit of it… I still start each element of my masterpieces with a completely blank sheet, and an open mind… that way, I think it keeps the twists and turns fresher… and yeez are well aware of how the characters themselves can hijack yer train of thought and dictate how the plot moves along…

…hope that’s of some help… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!


wall copy 2


Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

16 responses to “…this is how this ol’ Scots Jurassic Author builds his crime thrillers…#TBSU…

  1. Reblogged this on olbigjim and commented:
    Master Gallacher reveals his method for producing his exciting crime thrillers! Sit up and give attention and you’ll learn something here.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fascinating Seumas – and there’s me and millions like me who read a book and don’t realise just how cleverly put together it has been done. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog….. An Author Promotions Enterprise! and commented:
    PAY ATTENTION CLASS – a MASTER of the Dark Art of Writing is going to give you a few clues on how to defeat your greatest enemy – Reader Disinterest 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Very impressive Seumas! I think you should run a few countries I can think of…


  5. laurie27wsmith

    The trouble is Seumas some of my characters would stick a gun in my face to get their point across. I pants my way through it with a little help from ‘my friends.’ 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m seeing a lot of cases of two characters only appearing together in one chapter. I don’t write mysteries, but I’m guessing this is a common tool to keep the characters (and the readers) guessing. Keep crucial bits of info from coming together.

    Liked by 1 person

    • …yes…as I say, whatever works for the author… it’s a mechanism to ensure the flow of narrative keeps all the separate characters and events in the mind of the reader… some may say it’s taking, for example, the primary story and weaving another one or two tracks alongside it concurrently … cheers 🙂


  7. Love it. I don’t have the pencil x but I definitely have a subliminal page threshold beyond which I cannot go without putting in some kind of action. 😉



    Liked by 1 person

  8. I like this kind of stuff! I used a spreadsheet, but only to track chapter length with word counts (about 5000 to 6250 each, roughly 30-40 minutes’ reading). I’ll have to use Uncle’s pools coupon and go back over the old beast with a nit comb, to find out what my characters’ appearance patterns look like. Maybe even color-code them (I don’t think leg-banding or radio collars will work). I’ll check my Fleming Intervals, too. Thanks, Seumas!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: I Can Hear the Ocean Roar | Christine Plouvier, Novelist

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