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

Pauline Rowson with DI Andy Horton Dead PassageAll 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.

Murky marine mysteries DI Andy Horton novelsClose by is a two tier table and the lower tier contains a number of trays all labelled. There are trays with details of the DI Andy Horton crime novel, number fifteen in the series, of the Art Marvik mystery thriller, number four in the series, and of my crime novel set in 1950 Britain which features a thoughtful Scotland Yard detective, Inspector Ryga, the first in the series which is to be published in 2019.

There is also a tray labelled ideas and characters and an outline of my second 1940 set murder mystery play. The first is called Murder at the Pelican Club, the latest performance of which is from 22-24 November 2018 by the Winterbourne Players in Bristol.

Along with all this information there 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.

DI Andy Horton novel, Dead Passage, in paperback, e book and Kindle

Dead Passage an Inspector Andy Horton crime novel"Andy Horton is an especially good series hero, a likeable fellow with plenty of street smarts and the requisite personal baggage… Procedural fans who haven’t already read Rowson should be encouraged to do so in the strongest possible terms." Booklist USA

"A detective novel in the tradition of Rankin and Harvey." Mystery People Magazine

A mysterious telephone call sends Horton on a complex and twisted investigation into the death of a local politician twelve years ago and uncovers a trail of lies, secrets and revenge with roots deep in the past. 

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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OCTOBER 19TH, 2018 @ 6:13:07 BST

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