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The perfect system for planning, researching, plotting and writing a crime novel

Pauline RowsonAll writers have different ways of working and finding the ‘perfect system’ for planning, researching, plotting, structuring and writing a novel is often a matter of trial and error until something clicks. That’s how it was for me anyway.

Before I struck on my 'perfect system' I tried all sorts of ways of compiling my research, plot lines, and character outlines, from using note books to wall maps, from card indexes to ring binders. None of them worked. The ring binders looked nice and neat, all properly indexed, but because of my civil service training my mind told me that something in a file, was 'filed away,' and therefore actioned, finished with and a novel is a work in progress.

Notebooks worked for a while but I got tired of flicking through various pages trying to find the precise piece of information I needed, when I needed it. And they weren't much use for containing the research pulled off the Internet, and from other sources. Wall maps were soon a no,no. They looked messy and very rapidly got covered with notes pinned all over them. So what next?

I'm not really sure how I evolved my current system of working but gradually it came together so that now all my plot lines and character outlines are executed in pencil on recycled bits of paper.  Each plot line and character details are held together by a separate Treasury Tag. The individual characters have their names flagged up at the top in a coloured sticker, so that I can grab the right character in an instant (well almost). 

The research from various sources is then tacked on to that character or plot line, and all this resides on my desk until the novel is written. 

DI Andy Horton and Art Marvik MysteriesClose by is a two tier table and on the lower tier are in trays all labelled.  There are two trays with details of the latest DI Andy Horton crime novel, number fourteen in the series, which I have written and am hoping to have published in 2018; two trays on the latest Art Marvik mystery, number four in the series, which I hope to have published early 2019, and another tray labelled ideas and characters.

I am currently working on a crime novel set in 1950 Britain which features a thoughtful Scotland Yard detective and this is what currently resides on my desk.

Along with all this information is a tray that contains, maps, tide timetables, charts, police procedural notes and forensic research notes. I also have two ring binders full of forensic information and that on autopsies.

And as to the actual writing tool? That is straight on to the computer for me.

Lethal Waves, Inspector Andy Horton (13) published in the UK and USA in hardcover and as an ebook

Lethal Waves, an Andy Horton Marine Mystery by Pauline RowsonLethal Waves, featuring the flawed and rugged detective, Andy Horton was published by Severn House in 2017. Andy Horton is tasked to solve another complex crime, set against the backdrop of the sea on the South Coast of England.

'Nothing in this police procedural is as it first appears. The Harley Davidson–riding, boat-dwelling Horton is a fascinating man to get to know, and his thoughtful approach to detection is a pleasure to read.' Publishers Weekly

'This heart-breaking story of ambition, greed, jealousy, and revenge makes a good choice for fans of no-nonsense British procedurals.' Booklist

DI Andy Horton’s meal with his old friend, Inspector John Guilbert of the States of Guernsey Police, is cut short when a woman is found dead in her cabin on the ferry from Portsmouth to Guernsey. There doesn’t appear to be any suspicious circumstances. It's not Horton's case. But as soon as Horton returns to Portsmouth he's called in to investigate the death of a vagrant found lying partially covered under a rotting houseboat. This time, it’s clearly murder. Troubled by the many unanswered questions surrounding both deaths, Horton must call upon all his skills and intuition to solve a complex case, uncovering dark secrets that have led to such lethal waves of destruction.

The new Art Marvik Mystery Lost Voyage

Lost Voyage a marine based mystery by Pauline RowsonLost Voyage, the third in the marine mystery series featuring former Royal Marine Commando, Art Marvik, an undercover investigator for the UK's National Intelligence Marine Squad (NIMS) was published in 2017 by Severn House in hardcover and as an ebook

'Plenty of action, I didn't want to put the book down. A good read for mystery/ thriller fans.' Net Galley

Lost Voyage is set against the backdrop of the Severn Sisters cliffs, Beachy Head and the coastal towns of Newhaven and Eastbourne on the south coast of England.

Marvik is surprised to receive an unexpected summons to meet Helen Shannon, a woman he helped on his first mission. When a body is discovered in her flat, Marvik is convinced that Helen is being framed for murder, but why and by whom? Before he has a chance to follow it up, Marvik is called in to investigate the disappearance of a salvage vessel, the Mary Jo, which went missing in 2003. As Marvik delves into the past, it becomes clear that he faces a desperate battle to keep Helen and others safe from a ruthless assassin – one who will stop at nothing in order to protect the secret of the Mary Jo’s last voyage from ever being exposed.

Where to buy Pauline Rowson's books

Pauline Rowson's books are available from all good booksellers in paperback, hardback, as an ebook, on Amazon Kindle, on Kobo and as unabridged audio books. They can also be loaned from libraries in the UK, Commonwealth and the USA.

Buy Pauline Rowson's books Amazon USA

Buy Pauline Rowson's books Amazon UK

Buy from your UK local bookshop

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DECEMBER 27TH, 2017 @ 6:13:07 GMT

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