KILLER WOMEN WEEKEND 2017
28th & 29th October, Browns, St Martin's Lane, London
I was thrilled to spend this Saturday and Sunday at the Killer Women Weekend! For those of you who have not heard of Killer Women, they are a group of 21 female crime writers who work together to put on exciting, innovative crime fiction events around the country, for men and women.
This is the second event from the Killer Women team I have been to and I thoroughly enjoyed every single moment! There were 6 Masterclasses each day where panels of 4 authors discussed a variety of different subjects about publishing and writing crime. There were also 4 workshops led by authors tackling various aspects of crime writing. You could also book a one to one session with various authors who could answer questions about specific legal situations or police procedure for budding crime writers. The generosity of the authors was incredible and it was an inspirational weekend.
Here's few highlights from DAY ONE!
HOW PUBLISHING WORKS
Amanda Jennings, Tammy Cohen, Will Francis, Sophie Orme
It's always a little hard to concentrate when two authors that you happen to be in love with are sitting a few feet away from you, but that's the beauty (and excitement) of the Killer Women events - it's informal, very welcoming and very friendly! I still spent most of the day completely starstruck, but I did manage to fill an entire notebook with top tips!
So the first panel included two authors, one literary agent and one editor.
Here's a few top tips about the road to publication:
- One way to choose an agent is to read the acknowledgements in the back of your favourite authors' books - or of an author who you think has a similar stye / subject to you and approach their agent.
- Choose an agent who is going to be interested in the type of novel you have written and make sure you tell them why you have chosen them in particular. Show that you are familiar with their client list. Make sure you adhere to their submission guidelines in terms of what they need and how they need it
- Your book will go through several edits. Once taken on by an editor there will be a structural edit (the big picture - plot, pace, characters) then a line edit (just as it sounds - detailed look at dialogue, chapter endings, consistent voice..) a copy edit (grammar, fact checking) and then a proof read once the manuscript has been type set......phew!! This can take around 9 months.
- Make sure you manage your expectations - advances can vary enormously but are rarely 6 figures!
Alison Joseph, Antonia Hodgson, Kate Griffin, William Ryan
In this panel the authors talked about why they had chosen the era they had in which to set their stories and why they were so intrigued by that moment in history or what had inspired them to write historical crime.
They also talked about how writing historical crime can sometimes allow an exploration of the 'grey areas', morality and issues that are still relevant to contemporary society. Another tip was that the biggest challenge is trying not to get lost in research! Although fascinating, it's easy to do too much or try to use everything when writing the story.
I haven't read a lot of historical crime fiction, but I left this panel desperate to read all of the authors books! One of the great things about weekends like this is that you discover new authors and are introduced to books that you might not have picked up before. I was delighted to hear William Ryan speak having recently read The Constant Soldier which I found a very powerful read.
Vaseem Khan, Katherine Quarmby, Matthew Blakstad, Imran Mahmood
This was a fascinating panel that wandered through so many different topics, insights, ideas and debates it would be impossible to give a fair write up! It started by considering the impact changing technology was having not only on the way authors write and readers read, but also on how crimes are committed and how they are solved.
There was also a discussion of genre, tropes in crime fiction, the impact of politics and events in the media on story lines or as inspiration for crime fiction novels and whether the rules were changing for crime writers.
Some key points were:
- the rules of crime fiction are more elastic now
- embrace the changes in technology and society
- despite changes in society and technology, we are still fascinated about why people do what they do
- write the story you want to write and feel passionately about
- even an easy read is a hard write
- write every day & write well!
Lisa Cutts, Sharon Bolton, Kate London, Stav Sherez
This was a really fun panel and it was fascinating to hear from two authors who also work in the police force. Sharon Bolton asked some brilliant questions, I especially liked when she took four statements about the essential qualities of a good character in crime fiction and asked the authors to think of a character in one of their books who fitted the description.
They also talked about how they planned a novel (or didn't!), how new technology can provide lots of new material and ideas but also complicates the ability to 'get away with murder' and the rise of the 'unlikable' protagonist. Each of the authors had different approaches to creating characters, stories, research and planning which led to a lively and humorous panel discussion!
One of the most awesome things about this weekend event was being able to listen to so many different authors, who write across the whole range of the crime fiction genre, talk about such a broad range of issues about writing and publishing crime fiction. But the absolute highlight has got to be the chance to learn more about the actual craft of writing from these masterful and highly talented Killer Women! So I was thrilled to attend Julia Crouch's workshop on plotting. I wrote 6 pages of notes for this session so I'm afraid I can't share everything here but Julia was full of very concise, clear and practical advice!
Julia described her first draft as draft 0; the one that no one ever saw and was like a 'scramble through the woods'. Your first draft should just be a messy run through a forest where you have to put your head down and get to the other side any way you can. Drafts 1, 2 and however many more it takes, are when you go back and look at each twig, examine the leaves, clear the path more carefully.
We looked at the 7 Basic Plots and Julia talked about the importance of conflict as being essential to creating any kind of plot. A story is what happened, the plot is why it happened.
She went on to look at plot structure in more detail with some simple acronyms that would help anyone who is writing check they had the key ingredients in their plot. It was fascinating to see how Julia planned her own plots -she shared a photo of her pinboard with its post it notes and also shared a simple grid that she also uses to ensure each scene has the key ingredients to keep the reader turning the pages.
And a huge thanks to Julia Crouch for the envelope with a practical exercise on plotting that we got to take home. I'm looking forward to having a go!
So what were the three key take away pieces of advice from the day?
Write the story you want to write, write a story you love and feel passionate about and write it well!
Keep the key idea, the key question that you started your story with, at the forefront of your mind when writing every single scene.
Thanks to all the fabulous authors, literary agents, editors and killer women who made Saturday such a fantastic day!
Look out for my next blog post about Sunday's panels ....
For more recommendations and reviews follow me on Twitter @KatherineSunde3 or via my blog bibliomaniacuk.blogspot.co.uk or website bibliomaniacuk.co.uk