Andrew Girle's Blog

Crime and Speculative Fiction Blooking

Posts Tagged ‘detective novel’

Still writing!

Posted by Andrew Girle on January 6, 2013

My apologies – I have not posted on here since my dismal failure at Not-No-Wri-Mo.
I was stuck at the car dealership on Wednesday, waiting for the diagnosis of a ‘funny squeak’ in my 6 month old car, so I used the five hours to stamp out 1200 words in the Fireballs’n’45’s storyline.

And came up with an idea for a t-shirt… line drawing of a fedora pulled low over a canine muzzle, with the caption “Pitt, Detective. When it’s time to see a dog about a man.”


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NaNoWriMo approacheth

Posted by Andrew Girle on October 31, 2012

I’m not signed up for NaNoWriMo, but I’m going to do my best to churn 50K words out.

Starting in eight hours.

Bedtime, here I come!

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I hate mobile phones

Posted by Andrew Girle on April 15, 2012

At least, mobiles (@Cellphones in the USofA) and what they have done to tension in crime fiction.

Our hero is stumped, she cannot connect that last piece of the puzzle, and if she doesn’t work it out in the next five minutes, the villain will escape.

Problem? Of course not. Phone a bloody friend. Arrange backup, sort out a roadblock, check with the forensic experts, whatever.

That is how it works in the real world, folks.

But the whole idea of thrillers is the THRILL, and that comes from tension. And real tension takes time to develop, it has to fester and bubble and rise like bile in the back of your throat until it stops you thinking about anything but turning the page and when you finally do you realise you haven’t been drawing breath and the resolution lets you BREATHE …

And mobile phones destroy that.


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Magic systems, built from scratch

Posted by Andrew Girle on April 6, 2012

I have hit a stumbling block: I don’t want to have a magic with wands instead of guns (there goes most peoples ideas of magic!); nor do I want to have an Earthsea magic so incomprehensible that readers need to be stoned to follow it.

I want magic that is possible enough to our understanding of the world; that stretches the imagination without dulling it.

One of my background notes for ‘Grimnoires and Gumshoes’ refers to natural magic – the patterns in a stripes of a tiger (or zebra!) create confusion in the beholder, so that bright yellow animals are effectively invisible in a dull green jungle. Where belief in the power of an object can be sufficient to imbue it with that effect – so a horse shoe over a door can ward evil, by virtue of hundreds if not thousands of years of belief.

But DAMN, fireballs are sexy.

Even just writing that has given me an idea for working ‘explosive magic’ into my world of natural magic; in the same way that rapid exothermic reactions are part of nature (explosions, for the unscientific reader). Maybe the magician merely needs enough sex appeal.

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The bug is back

Posted by Andrew Girle on March 26, 2012

For months now my two stories (magic/crime mashup going under the working title of ‘Grimnoires and Gumshoes’; and a sci fi adventure under the working title of ‘Broken Angels’) have languished.

All that changed last week.

As a result of another driver being too lazy to stop at a stop sign, my car is off the road for a while. This means I have gone back to the tedium of public transport. That has given me plenty of time to scribble notes, and over the last couple of days I have hammered, beaten and pounded a couple of thousand words into the Broken Angels universe. Serious second-writing will be required, but that is ok – the core storyline has progressed. I am getting somewhere!

And somewhere in the back of my head, I can hear the whispers of the Grimnoires and Gumshoes cast, muttering amongst themselves about being ignored. Sometime soon, their story is going to jackhammer its way out of my head and onto the screen as well.

Welcome back, bug!

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Private Eyes, Leggy Dames, Fireballs and Jazz

Posted by Andrew Girle on September 20, 2011

In between scribbling notes on my current ‘main project’ I have been doing some world building based in the Fantasy Noir genre – think “The Maltese Falcon meets Gandalf”. Or the magnificent works of Jim Butcher.

And the tagline “Private eyes, leggy dames, fireballs and Jazz” seems to sum it up. Oh, and con men, crooked politicians and tommy guns.


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Posted by Andrew Girle on October 24, 2010

Not much writing done in the last week or so – that is what you get for “wasting” your spare time finalising renovations that were started five years ago.

Anyway, I have finally added a couple of links to my blogroll (Maggie Anderson and Kev Webb) and I do suggest you click on through and have a look!

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Does a continuing character need a continuing nemesis?

Posted by Andrew Girle on September 28, 2010

Holmes had Moriarty. Kay Scarpetta had Temple Gault. All through crime fiction our favourite continuing characters have continuing nemeses.

But do they have to have them? Cannot our gumshoes walk the mean streets and face enough danger without acquiring some kind of fantastic super-enemy? Characters should be human, and humans don’t acquire enduring enemies – cartoon heroes do.

Or am I wrong?

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Story lines

Posted by Andrew Girle on September 22, 2010

I haven’t written in a few weeks, and my brain has started to swell with the fizz and pop with ideas trying to let themselves out. Character names that say everything about the character (a couple of private eyes with the names Felix Black and Sam Pennyquick…. just imagine them in a tense scene!) and one liners that just zing.

All these are going into my ideas file, because I currently have four separarate story lines on the juggle and I don’t want to be distracted by that damn butterfly again.

Ohhh look there it goes again…. quick, someone get my net.

Or maybe not.

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Thinking about tension in narrative

Posted by Andrew Girle on April 9, 2010

(this is also up on my myspace site)

I’ve been pondering why it is that in some genres tension is mistaken for lust. Blood lust. Think about the movie SAW, and the movie MAD MAX (or as they renamed it in the US, THE ROAD WARRIOR). Both have scenes where the principal character gives another character the option to cut off a limb to save their life, yet Mel Gibson does it understated and for all the graphic violence of the movie, we don’t see the gruesome foot chopping. But we can imagine it, and wince all the way to our spines at the choice offered. In SAW, the chopping is there in all its gory glory, and we flinch at the special effects, not at the anticipation of them.

Is it just me that finds tension to be a combination of anticipation and imagination? The greatest tension I ever recall in a movie was in Spielberg’s DUEL – where we never see the truck driver. RESERVOIR DOGS has the incredibly tense torture/interrogation scene involving petrol, but that did not raise the fear levels for me, rather making me nauseous.

The old cliched action movie trope of the sawmill and the 6 foot Canadian ripsaw bench and the heroine tied to the chain drive raises the tension because we can all imagine what will happen if she is not rescued, and there is the anticipation of just how the rescue is to be effected. Would it be just as effective, or even more so, if it was a hobbyists portable saw bench with a 6 inch electric saw and the victim being dragged along by a tractor sprinkler?

Now I am just getting silly.

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