Literary Birthday – 4 June – Val McDermid

Happy Birthday, Val McDermid, born 4 June 1955.

12 Quotes On Writing

  1. I had always wanted to write, ever since I realised that real people actually produced all those books in the library.
  2. There is still a funny notion that women should not write violent fiction, and yet women more often than not are the victims of sexual violence.
  3. When writing you can’t wait for inspiration to hit, you need to write yourself out of a block.
  4. The development of the psychological thriller, the whydunit, has been one of the most interesting aspects of recent crime fiction. It’s given the genre a new dimension, freshness, and richness, that is fascinating to explore as a writer.
  5. F. Tennyson Jesse, the writer, journalist and critic, propounded the theory that there are only six motives for murder, which doesn′t give enormous scope for variation. It′s characterisation that makes novels individual and interesting, whether they′re crime novels or not.
  6. I’m a ferocious outliner. I can’t begin a book unless I know where it’s going and how it gets there. I refine the story in my head over and over again before I’m ready to start, trying out all the possibilities I can imagine and discarding the ones that don’t work for me. Before I start, I write quite a detailed synopsis and more or less stick to it. Along the way, I often come up with alternative methods of achieving something, but they don’t take me far off course.
  7. One should play fair with the reader, and give them the opportunity to figure it out for themselves. But in my experience, most crime fiction readers aren′t just in it for the puzzle – they′re interested in the unfolding of the story.
  8. I discovered… that writing could be a job you were paid for. From then on, I never wanted to do anything else. I remember walking the dog on the beach and making up Famous Five stories in my head.
  9. The book always starts in the same way, though. I’ll hear or read something that gets me thinking, ‘what if?’
  10. Just do it: hammer through your first draft until the end.
  11. Don’t mess around making your first chapter perfect, because you’ll have to rewrite it anyway.
  12. Carve out a regular ‘writing time’ and don’t make excuses. If you can’t commit to your own writing, why should anyone else commit to it?

Val McDermid is a Scottish crime writer. She is the author of 30 books which have sold more than 10 million copies. McDermid has won several awards, including an LA Times book prize and the CWA Dagger. The TV series Wire in the Blood was based on her novel, The Wire in the Blood.

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 4th June 2013