Posts and articles on writing, publishing, working with professional editors, and more from Editorial Department president Ross Browne.

Writing Mysteries Guides, tips, and recommended reading for mystery writers

A quick word of caution to the aspiring mystery writer…

For its enduring popularity as a genre, mystery is a surprisingly tough genre to break into for new writers, and in some respects one of the hardest genres to write. This is in part due to the procedural know-how a writer must have to write convincingly about investigating crime. But it’s also because of how inherently predictable the mystery formula ultimately is and the challenge of keeping readers entertained, engaged, and surprised […]

By | 2017-12-07T20:30:01+00:00 |Mystery, RSB, The Writer’s Craft|Comments Off on Writing Mysteries Guides, tips, and recommended reading for mystery writers

What We Can Learn from Lee Child & Jack Reacher A master lesson in handling exposition in mystery/suspense

Exposition: a discourse of information. Often necessary, but also challenging to handle skillfully.

In an earlier post for mystery writers, I talked a little bit about the value of resisting the urge to lecture your readers on what you might have learned in the course of researching your story or what you might know from your own in-the-trenches experiences.  The premise behind this advice is that readers–and fans of mystery/suspense in particular–generally read in hopes of being entertained rather than educated. A […]

By | 2018-03-06T20:49:58+00:00 |Mystery, RSB, The Writer’s Craft|Comments Off on What We Can Learn from Lee Child & Jack Reacher A master lesson in handling exposition in mystery/suspense

Review of Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith A reflection on J.K. Rowling's talent as a mystery writer

“When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg. Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible–and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality. With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and […]

By | 2017-12-07T20:31:01+00:00 |Book Reviews and Analysis, RSB|Comments Off on Review of Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith A reflection on J.K. Rowling's talent as a mystery writer

Review of Hostile Witness by Rebecca Forster A reminder of why characterization still matters in mystery suspense

“When sixteen-year-old Hannah Sheraton is arrested for the murder of her stepgrandfather, the chief justice of the California Supreme court, her distraught mother turns to her old college roommate, Josie Baylor-Bates, for help. Josie, once a hot-shot criminal defense attorney, left the fast track behind for a small practice in Hermosa Beach, California. But Hannah Sheraton intrigues her and, when the girl is charged as an adult, Josie cannot turn her back. But the deeper she digs the more […]

By | 2017-12-07T20:31:15+00:00 |Book Reviews and Analysis, RSB|Comments Off on Review of Hostile Witness by Rebecca Forster A reminder of why characterization still matters in mystery suspense

Word Play by Peter Farb An enlightening study of language that's a gold mine for dialogue-conscious novelists

Word Play by Peter Farb may not have been written with novelists in mind, but it’s a smart, funny, and delightfully entertaining book about language and how we use it. And it’s chock full of good insights for writers, especially on the topic of dialogue.

One chapter I find especially interesting is on verbal dueling. The author’s position is summed up nicely in the very first paragraph with the statement: “Most speakers unconsciously duel even during seemingly casual conversation, […]

By | 2017-12-07T20:31:28+00:00 |Book Reviews and Analysis, RSB|Comments Off on Word Play by Peter Farb An enlightening study of language that's a gold mine for dialogue-conscious novelists

Characterization and the Film Adaptation of Jack Reacher

Can an inherent limitation in the medium of film compel Lee Child to take a seminal character in contemporary fiction to a whole new level?
I remember it like it was yesterday, the conflicting moment during a hotly contested game of Scrabble when I learned that there was finally going to be a movie made from a Lee Child book and that Jack Reacher would be played by Tom Cruise.

It didn’t take too long to get past my objection to the […]

By | 2018-05-03T21:17:09+00:00 |RSB, Screenwriting & Screenplay Adaptation, The Writer’s Craft|Comments Off on Characterization and the Film Adaptation of Jack Reacher