Simon Beckett: writing tips

crime writing tips

Simon Beckett, author of the Dr David Hunter crime series, shares his top writing tips.

Find an approach that works for you

When you’re starting out it’s easy to think that there’s a right and wrong way of writing a novel. There isn’t. Some writers work best in a morning, some late at night, and while some can write 1000 words a day others might only manage a few hundred. Everyone is different, so find a style and method that suits you.

Do the research

This is very important, especially for crime fiction. When you’re writing about something factual, such as forensics, it’s worth the effort to make it as authentic as possible. This helps make the story more realistic and encourages readers to believe in the world you’re creating.

Finish the first draft before editing

It’s very tempting to start changing or polishing existing chapters instead of forging ahead with new ones. Don’t do it – the chances are the story will change again before you get to the end, so you’ll have to redo it all anyway. Once you have a completed first draft you’ll have a better idea of exactly what needs to be done. Which brings me to the next point…

Don’t shirk the rewrites

I’ve met people who think the work is done once the first draft is finished. That might be true for a very few writers, but most of us don’t get everything right first time. There’s always room for improvement.

Keep writing

Accept that there will be set-backs and disappointments and try not to let them knock you off-course. They probably will for a time, but the people who make it into print are the ones who keep trying.

Buy The Restless Dead by Simon Beckett
The Restless Dead by Simon Beckett

Simon Beckett has worked as a freelance journalist, writing for national newspapers and colour supplements. He is the author of five crime thrillers featuring his forensic anthropologist hero, Dr David Hunter: The Chemistry of Death, Written in Bone, Whispers of the Dead, The Calling of the Grave and The Restless Dead. His other novels are Stone Bruises and Where There’s Smoke.

Join the discussion

Your email address will not be published.

Please note: Moderation is enabled and may delay your comment being posted. There is no need to resubmit your comment. By posting a comment you are agreeing to the website Terms of Use.

1 Comment

  1. David Holman says

    Some good advice there Simon, especially about first drafts.
    I try and write 350 words per day but sometimes I really am flying and end up writing a few chapters for my Cold War thrillers.
    Many thanks
    David