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‘Ice-pick-sharp, packed with intrigue, action and spine-chilling suspense. Devour will keep you gripped from the very first page’ Kathryn Fox

Larkin's Latest

Welcome to my blog, Larkin’s Latest. News on thriller authors and great books to read, the writing process and festivals, incredible people I interview and exciting story locations, courses I run, and things that make me laugh!

The rise of the thriller heroine

March 9, 2010

Writing a novel is one thing. Turning it into a movie script is another thing entirely. Today I met with a script writer who is interested in turning The Genesis Flaw into a movie. All very exciting, especially as the novel doesn’t go on sale for another few months. And it’s strange how the writing community is so inter-connected. This particular script writer heard about The Genesis Flaw though a mention on The Writers’ Studio’s website. It was at The Writers’ Studio that I first became inspired to write thrillers.

In this meeting, we discussed how rare, still, are female central characters in thrillers. I’ve noticed that over the last ten years, as more female crime writers have emerged, some magnificent female detective and forensic characters have appeared. How wonderful is Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpatta character? And some amazing, feisty leading females have powered across the pages of thrillers like John Grisham’s The Pelican Brief. But female characters in thrillers still often play the supporting role, such as Dan Brown’s recent mysteries. Steig Larsson’s trilogy breaks the mould here: what a complex, unexpected and intriguing heroine is Lisbeth Salander!

Creating a female protagonists isn’t easy. She has to be tough and resilient enough to survive all the horrors thrown at her. She must be courageous and steadfast, and able to draw on talents that equip her to win the final “battle”. But there is a fine line between creating a female character who endures more than we could, and not making her appear a heartless bitch who rides rough-shod over others to achieve her goal. Making her sympathetic and showing her vulnerabilities, I believe, is essential. If you understand what drives her to place herself in such danger, then, as a reader, you empathise and want to go along for the ride. In the case of Serena Swift, her motivation to action is not only the death of her father but the guilt she carries around that she not only missed his death but never went after those she believed responsible.

I’d be interested to here from you on what you think makes a good female central character?

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10 Rules for Writing Fiction?

February 20, 2010

I’ve been flicking through this article in the UK’s The Guardian newspaper, in which various famous authors give you their ten rules for writing fiction. Here’s the link to Part 1:

Some of Elmore Leonard’s comments really resonated with me, but I like to remind myself that rules are there to be broken, and sometimes by breaking them you can achieve something very impactful. But I try to do it sparingly.

I very much agree with the comment on never opening a novel with the weather (Rule 1). “It was a dark and stormy night” has been done to death. Because of my genre, I’m focused on the action but I do find that the environment around the action can reinforce the mood of the scene.

And I totally agree with his Rule 10 about deleting anything you would skip if you were the reader. But it’s always easier to notice unnecessary narrative in other people’s work, and much harder to spot in your own. As a reader I love a fast-paced plot and I cannot bear to wade through long-winded descriptions of people or place. Drives me nuts, so I skip.

Leonard’s Rule 4 – never use an adverb to modify the verb “said” – is a real poke in the eye for author’s like Dan Brown, who loves his characters reproaching angrily or whispering creepily. I’m of the opinion that adverbs need to be used very carefully, and yes, they are tempting. Dan Brown’s novels are so dramatic that I find his use of adverbs work well and theyr eflect his unique style as an author.

Do adverbs annoy you or do they help you visualise a character’s mood?

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