Unexpected Developments…

Another quick one…

A few days, I entered by short story, ‘Dressed to Deceive’ into the Inkitt Fated Paradox competition. To start with, I did it just to see what sort of feedback I could get from writers and readers who I’ve had no prior connection with and, as such, I submitted a short story that I was expecting to get completely trashed by reviewers and wouldn’t do well at all…

To my surprise, this is really not the case. ‘Dressed to Deceive’ has received a flurry of five-star reviews in the past few days and a fair share of likes, which just goes to show that sometimes the work you think is less important can have just as much impact on the world as the stuff you poured your heart and soul into.

However, it has left me with a bit of a conundrum. Having entered the story with no illusions as to how well it may or may not do, I now find myself in the position where I actually want to win the competition. I’ve found the morale boost from expecting nothing and getting far more than I imagined absolutely intoxicating. It’s actually comparable to the first time I ever won a bet on a horse and the races and instantly realised how people can become addicted to gambling…

I’m not saying I’m addicted to writing competitions, but I certainly think I will be taking more punts like this in the future for no other reason than I feel better about my writing at this moment, having seen my story become quite successful in a short period of time, than the last few months where I have been diligently plugging away at the edit of my novella.

It just goes to show, no matter how important your main project is, you should always market your smaller projects to keep your morale up and your ego nicely massaged…

On that note, if you have a few minutes, please check out my story using the link below and like it using the little heart counter. Let’s see if I can take this story all the way….

http://www.inkitt.com/stories/15731

Thanks all!

For more reviews, news and stories from Nick, subscribe to his newsletter at

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Dressed to Deceive – help a writer out

A very quick one for those of you waiting patiently to get to grips with some of my work.

My short story, Dressed to Deceive, is now available to read on Inkitt – for free! Please take some time to read it and like it – I’m afraid you’ll have to sign up to Inkitt to like it but you would be doing me a major service.

http://www.inkitt.com/stories/15731

Set in 1888, Dressed to Deceive follows the strange tale of Michael Kidney who, after a disastrous confrontation with his former lover, finds himself in the sights of one of the most wanted men in Britain…

Jack the Ripper.

Based on factual evidence about the murder of Liz Stride and the hunt for Jack, as well as addressing some of the theories about the infamous double event murder, Dressed to Deceive will turn your whole perception of Jack the Ripper on its head.

Are you ready to doubt everything you thought you knew?

Happy reading…

Three Reasons to write a Prequel Novella for a Novel you haven’t finished!

This is something I’ve had a lot lately. Slowly but surely word is getting out that my debut novel, Obsession, has been put on hold in favour of a prequel novella called The Bluebell Informant. And, as with all things in this life, people have been asking me what exactly is the benefit of me working so hard on a novella when I have already completed several drafts of Obsession.

Well today I’m going to address these questions and explain why writing a prequel novella was the best thing I could possibly do for my novel.

Back Story

 As we all know, a novel without a decent grounding in character backstory is rapidly going to crash and burn. When I’m reviewing other people’s books, you can always tell the writers who haven’t fully thought through a character’s backstory; their actions don’t make sense, the backstory changes mid-way through the novel – schoolboy errors basically.

Now, whilst I knew precisely what world I wanted to set Obsession in and I knew where roughly what had happened to my main character in the past to make her the way she is, I wouldn’t have been able to sit down and draw a timeline of the key events. Everything in her backstory was a vague slurry of ideas in my head but it hadn’t fully formed into a cohesive storyline.

The Bluebell Informant is really the beginning of the story that is picked up half way through by Obsession. By writing the prequel novella I was able to properly formulate my character’s backstory into something that I can now recite as though it were a chapter of my own life.

Explains the Novel

 The other tremendous advantage of writing a prequel novella is that it properly irons out the wrinkles for the later book. When I was writing Obsession, I had some key points that I knew had to be covered, but the journey between these points sometimes veered towards the unsteady and implausible ground of uncertainty.

As a reader, I expect a prequel to explain something that happens in the original novel. That’s not to say that the novel itself shouldn’t be able to stand it’s ground without the prequel to back it up, but having a prequel gives an audience a deeper insight that they may well have suspected was true but never knew for sure.

As a writer, the prequel does exactly the same job for me. As such, I have written The Bluebell Informant in such a way that it explains something I knew was true when writing Obsession but I didn’t explicitly add to the novel. As such, I now have a deeper understanding of the events that happen in Obsession, so much in fact that I now know exactly how to get my characters between those vital points in a way that will be thrilling for my readers.

Practice, Practice, Practice

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it a thousand times; editing is key to the success of a book. To give you the low down, I was on the third draft of Obsession when I decided to postpone in favour of The Bluebell Informant. At that point, I had spent approximately 40 hours editing it to that point and the vast majority of those edits were changes to the storyline that, by my own admission, I still hadn’t perfected by the time of writing the prequel novella.

In comparison, I am half way through the second draft of The Bluebell Informant and I have already spent an equivalent amount of time editing so far.

‘Why spend so much time editing the novella?’ I hear you ask.

Well, the answer to that question is actually irrelevant in many respects. When editing it is not the quantity of time you spend editing that is important but the quality of the work you do. In the instance of the prequel novella, I had a clear idea of what I wanted to happen in the story and, as the length is far shorter than in a novel, I ended up with a first draft that covered precisely the events that I felt needed to appear. No more, no less.

I didn’t need to waste time honing the story to make it work as I did with the novel, a process that I now know was solved quite quickly by writing a prequel novella, but instead could move on to the important stuff. Sentence structure, personalisation of individual characters, making the thing readable.

This is the sort of stuff that a lot of indie authors fall down on. More often than not, we’re so elated that we actually finished the book that we rush to get it out there and, as a result, send out shoddy work. We are so keen to get it out there and loved by our public that we spend very little time doing this delicate work. The problem is, of course, that the delicate work is by far the most important phase of story writing.

Because I’ve been able to move straight on to this delicate work, I’ve probably had more practice of it in the last month than I have had in the last year as a writer. And practice, as we all know, makes perfect.

So, In Closing, writing a prequel novella may seem like a pointless waste of time but for me it has made the task of redrafting my novel so much easier. I’m planning on releasing The Bluebell Informant sometime in the near future but, in many ways, its value is far greater than any commercial gain or increase readership that may result from it.

The prequel novella has given me more focus than I could have asked for. It’s solved many of the problems I have with the novel itself, expanded my character’s backstory and given me valuable experience that I can use to edit my later work.

Not to mention, I had a great time writing it.

If you want to see the work in progress, subscribe to my newsletter at http://nick-tingley.wix.com/author#!subscribe/c1fr5

before the end of the month to see a sneak peek of The Bluebell Informant as well as more reviews, news and stories from me.

What authors and readers alike can take from the latest revelations in Game of Thrones

If you’re not a Game of Thrones fan (either the books or the series), you may have found yourself somewhat confused by the tirade of anger and aggression that has been sweeping across social media in the last week. With comments ranging from, ‘They are just killing people to shock now’ to ‘That’s it I am never watching Game of Thrones ever again’, everyone seems to have something to say about it.

Now I’m not going to go in to details of the who, what and where because there are doubtlessly countless numbers of article and blogs covering this. However, I am going to make one or two little points that should hopefully bring some hope to any writer who has ever been struggling with the thought that their audience might not like their work…

1. If people are angry, it is a good thing.

As a species, human beings get angry… A LOT.

But it is very rare that we get angry about things we don’t care about. We get angry because someone broke something precious to us. We get angry because someone is misrepresenting us. We get angry because we stubbed our toes and our pride insists that we are too clever to ever do something so stupid.

We do not, however, get angry about things we don’t care about. If I were George R R Martin right now, I’d be rubbing my hands with glee. Not because I’d managed to thoroughly irritate all of my fans, or at least the ones who are willing to take the latest events of GoT at face value, but because I had created a world and characters that people were so invested in that they have collectively taken to social media to vent their frustration.

In fact, I would be more worried about the guy sat quietly in the corner saying, ‘So what? It’s only a story.’ Why? Because I haven’t managed to draw that guy in to my story. He doesn’t feel emotionally involved which means, as a writer, I have failed, if only on an individual level.

So, point number 1, don’t be afraid to make your audience angry.

2. Those who walk away.

I have seen it so much this week. I could probably name dozens of people who have declared on social media that they are never watching/reading Game of Thrones again. Ever. Now, if I was a writer in that situation, I might think I had gone too far.

But, as a casual observer, is there a single fibre of my being that doubts that those who have said that will not end up buying the book when it finally comes out or watching the next series in a year’s time? Nope.

As I said before, those people are emotionally involved. They have committed a huge amount of time into a character or storyline and are unlikely to walk away just because something happened that they don’t like. As a writer you can pull your audience to the brink as long as you let them spring back eventually. You can kill off everyone’s favourite character if you want, provided that you have a really good reason for doing it…

Point number two, if you are going to anger your audience make sure you can justify it.

Jon_Snow_died_at_t_3342341kAnd that leads me quite nicely to the real thing about Game of Thrones that I wanted to broach with you lovely readers.

If you’ve been paying attention, and once you get over the shock of the latest death in the book/series, you will very quickly realise that every death had some sort of purpose. No matter how random they seemed at the time, each death drove the story on a little bit further; each one allowed another important plot point to develop.

And once you realise that, you will eventually come to the conclusion that the last death, which had everyone so horrified, has a purpose as well.

Now I like to think I’ve been paying attention. And there is only one legitimate reason that I can think of for killing such a character at such a time…

Maybe I’ll blog my ideas at a later date. I guess it’ll depend on how many people share this… hint hint.

The Anti-Detectives of Crime and Thriller Literature

With my novella, The Bluebell Informant, in full swing I have been inspired to take a look at the types of anti-detectives that have appeared in literature over the last hundred years or so. Whilst many people’s minds immediately spring to Sherlock Holmes or Inspector Rebus, Miss Marple or Inspector Wexford, there has been a significant amount of crime and thriller fiction dedicated to the peculiar talents of the anti-detective who, through their bumbling inefficiency, complete disinterest and flawed logic somehow manage to find their way to a solution to some truly complex crimes…

Or not as the case may be.

Quinn – City of Glass (1985) – Paul Auster

As a novel, City of Glass is remarkable in the way it subverts the detective-fiction form. But it is the characterisation of the lead, Quinn, that truly gives this book its master-stroke.

Quinn is a former poet, now a writer of crime fiction, who receives a phone call from a person asking for someone else. Through this conversation, Quinn is hired to follow a former convict who is believed is planning murder and, during the course of novel, begins to take on the characteristics of his own fictional detective, Max Work.

But the finest part of Quinn’s characterisation is the ensuing paranoia that begins to set in during the course of the story. As a detective fiction writer, Quinn recognises that no sentence or word is ever wasted and, as such, begins to apply the same principles to his detective persona. As Quinn follows every lead, no matter how irrelevant, his case turns into a confused mess of ambiguity and confusion trumped only by his own paranoid delusions.

Dr John Watson –Sherlock Holmes stories – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle  

In a world inhabited by bumbling police detectives and the brilliance that is Sherlock Holmes’ consulting detective, Dr Watson is often over-looked as little more than the official biographer, a side-kick who is just along for the ride to provide clarity of narrative.

And yet, whilst all other detectives in the stories can be described, at least to some extent, as professional in nature, Watson stands as one of the very few truly amateur detectives. It is often easy to forget that Holmes himself values Watson’s detective abilities to a certain extent, a fact shown by his frequent testing of Watson’s deductive logic and his willingness to send Watson on surveillance missions. The fact that most of these tasks nearly always end with Holmes berating Watson for his incompetence places the good doctor very firmly in the realms of the anti-detective and may, perhaps, be the first literary example of such a character.

The Ghost Writer – The Ghost (2007) – Robert Harris

In Robert Harris’ political thriller, the unnamed main character is hired to take over writing the autobiography of a recently unseated British prime minister, Adam Lang. The former ghost writer had apparently committed suicide and our main character finds himself in a strict lock-down situation until the book is completed.

As he delves more into the life of the former prime minister, the main character begins to take on the persona of a detective, interviewing various witnesses to Lang’s rise to power and uncovering new evidence that brings the politician’s entire career into question.

Whilst he’s not strictly speaking a detective, the main character is somewhat forced down the path as he struggles with his obligation to complete the autobiography to the best of his ability and to uncover the truth about the man he is working for. It is this struggle that plucks him out of the role of the regular writer and drops him very squarely in the role of the anti-detective, leading to some rather shocking and disastrous revelations.

Thomas Fool – The Devil’s Detective (2015) – Simon Kurt Unsworth  

In this stunning blend of crime and gothic horror, Thomas Fool plays the part of a detective in Hell. Whilst the concept of having law enforcement in hell is enough to engage most readers, it is the characterisation of Fool himself that really makes the novel a joy to read and places him firmly on my list of anti-detectives.

Apart from the obvious play on words in Fool’s name, there are many aspects of his character that make him a fine example of the anti-detective. From his lack of experience and interest to being a detective, to his haphazard method of stumbling through an investigation, Fool jumps from one bad decision to the next with some devastating results. But what makes the character so brilliant is that, whilst in reality such a detective would be suspended or struck from the force altogether, the lords of hell are more than happy to allow Fool to continue crawling through his own personal hell and, when he finally reaches the solution, you truly wonder how he ever made it there in one piece…

Richard Hannay – The Thirty Nine Steps (1915) – John Buchan  

Hannay is the quintessential anti-hero; from the very outset of the book, Hannay does little but complain about how bored he is in Britain and how he would love to return to Rhodesia. And yet, by the end of the book, Hannay is desperately trying to uncover a spy and save Britain from an embarrassing breach of security.

What brings about this drastic change is the countrywide police chase brought about by the discovery of a dead body in his apartment. Desperate to prove his innocence, Hannay adopts the persona of the anti-detective, forcing strangers to exchange clothes with him and breaking into cottages to try to clear his name and reveal the truth. But what makes his character so appealing isn’t any form of patriotic duty, but simple self-preservation making him a prime example of the anti-detective that would develop over the next hundred years.

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The Murder Bag by Tony Parsons – A Review

The Murder Bag – Tony Parsons

As some of you may be aware, I recently came back from a trip from Rome. As a person who, whilst I have no issue with flying per se, gets very bored when stuck in a metal tube for hours on end, I always feel the need to distract myself by sitting down to a good book.

On this occasion, whilst browsing through the airport selection, my eyes were drawn to The Murder Bag and, within seconds of boarding the aircraft, I dived into it.

From the outset the story seemed fairly simple; a ruthless serial killer is stalking London’s streets, cutting the throats of the rich and powerful. Only one man seems to be able to stop him, DC Max Wolfe.

Before the plane had even taxied to the end of the runway, I began to feel a slight pang of disappointment. Within the first two chapters, I already found myself at odds with the lead character who, as with so many stories of this type, was a man who everyone disagreed with but was invariably right all the time. As his character unfurled in the early chapters, he seemed to be rather like the person we all love to dislike – you know the person I mean, the person who takes credit for his own achievements but when things start to go wrong is always eager to blame someone else…

By the time the plane had reached cruising altitude, I was ready to go far as to suggest that the character was too good to be true and, therefore, woefully unbelievable. I had begun to wonder whether I had in fact picked the right novel at all.

But, as you may have guessed, the lack of anything else to do on the flight forced me to stay with it for a few chapters more… and I haven’t looked back since.

After the slightly stuttered start, where everything seems to be so obvious, Parsons takes the reader down a train ride of twists and turns whilst also making some rather apt comments about the world we live in today. If I thought from the outset that the story seemed familiar, I was pleasantly rewarded for my preconceptions when it is revealed half way through that that was precisely the point.

By the time I reached the middle of the book, any issues I had with the DC Wolfe had evaporated as Parson’s slowly peeled back the layers of his characterisation to reveal possibly one of the best detectives to have emerged in crime fiction in recent years. Parsons has elegantly crafted a character that seems so familiar to the reader that you find yourself making presumptions that leave you breathless when he finally blows the smoke away.

And, with a nice nod to one of the most notorious serial killers in British history, this story provides a thorough police procedural story with a good thriller that will leave you guessing right up to the last page.

And with a sequel released not long ago, this is the best time to add The Murder Bag to your wish list. Absorbing, intriguing and thoroughly enjoyable.

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