The Crime Writers’ Association

Pauline Rowson writing tips

Pauline Rowson’s writing tips – persistence, patience and a keen interest in humanity

It’s often said that you should write about what you know, but I don’t agree. I’ve never committed a murder, or been a police officer, and neither am I married to one. I’ve had no previous experience or knowledge of the law, except what I’ve read in crime novels, and I’ve never been to an autopsy, yet after many trials and tribulations I finally got the job as a crime writer. I love reading crime and mystery novels and I love writing them. It’s my belief that you should write what you are enthusiastic about, but you also need some additional qualities. Here is my view on what it take to be a successful writer. Persistence is essential in order to be able to ferret out the information you require. This can be desk research via the Internet, the library and/or by speaking to individuals. It also helps to have this quality in abundance to cope with the many knock backs and rejections every budding writer receives. Patience is also required in order to be able to track down, read and analyse the reams of information you gather, a tenth of which might be useful and only a tenth of that which might finally appear in your novel. So you’ll also need to be selective. You must have a keen interest in humanity, the ability to ask probing questions and listen to the answers. You should also have absolutely no desire to speak about yourself and your novel. Keen observation skills and a good ear can both be utilised when travelling by public transport, an absolute must for an author. Observe body language, and develop a good ear for conversation. Listen to mobile phone conversations, they can provide a wealth of information on family matters and marital rifts! All writers, published or otherwise, must be readers. It is by reading others’ novels that you see how they create tension, how they move their characters around the scenes, how they write dialogue and how they create atmosphere in their descriptions. And all authors need an open enquiring mind. Once you open your mind to ideas they can come thick and fast and they can come from anywhere – that overheard conversation, that snippet of research you’ve just unearthed, a place you have visited or something you’ve seen or read. So there you have it, no previous knowledge or experience required just the desire to create, write, observe and enjoy.

Pauline Rowson is the author of the DI Andy Horton series of crime novels and the Art Marvik marine mysteries. Fatal Catch, DI Andy Horton number 12 and Dangerous Cargo, the second in the Art Marvik marine crime series, were published by Severn House in 2016.

Pauline Rowson’s website is You can also follow her on Twitter and Facebook

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