For Reasons Unknown - Writing/Editing
By Michael Wood
For Reasons Unknown is not the first novel I have written. However, it is the first novel I have had published. The reason for this is because the others were obviously not very good. My approach to this novel was different too. I decided I wanted to write a series rather than a standalone so before I began with the story and plot I concentrated on my main character.
I wanted my protagonist to be a strong independent woman with a mass of vulnerabilities and lacking in self-confidence. DCI Matilda Darke is at the top of her career, and, on paper, seems to have everything she’s always wanted. In her personal life she is a complete mess. She has recently lost her husband, and her career is on a downward spiral as she made a massive error in a highly publicised case she was working on while her husband was dying. Now, she is a shadow of her former self. I needed a sounding board for Matilda, someone she can turn to when she is feeling low and who will listen to her. This task befalls to her best friend Adele Kean. Adele has also been through a tough point on her life, however, she has come through it and is stronger than ever. Adele represents everything Matilda wants to be. She will get there – eventually. How? That’s a question even I don’t know the answer to.
Creating Matilda’s team was interesting and a fun exercise. I wanted a range of characters, all with their own private lives which they were dealing with silently, whereas Matilda’s private life had been brought out into the public domain. They all look up to Matilda and admire her. However, she needs them more than they need her. She just doesn’t realise it yet.
Once the characters were in place the story came next. As the title suggests, I am more interested in the psychology of a crime – the whydunit rather than the whodunit. I didn’t want to create the story in detail before I sat down to write it as I’m a very fluid writer; I like conversations to be natural and if I don’t know what the characters are going to say until I’m writing them, then the plot can go off in any direction. That is the excitement of writing. I was more than three-quarters of the way through writing For Reasons Unknown before I decided who the killer was going to be. Once I had written the first draft and chosen my killer I then went back through it all dropping red herrings along the way.
The editing process is a difficult, but important one. The writing needs to be tightened up depending on the pace of the novel and sentence structure and words chosen are looking at carefully. Researching is important too. I had to rewrite a whole chapter once I had found out what happens when someone is stabbed in the stomach, which was a shame as I enjoyed the original chapter.
I am at my happiest when I’m writing, but I also enjoy editing too, especially after the first draft is written. When the story is complete it is interesting to go back over the story and see who says what and why. Editing it just as important as writing.
I am approaching the end of the first draft of book two. It is at this point that the hard work begins. Strangely, I’m looking forward to it.
About Michael WoodMichael Wood is Sheffield born and bred and has chosen the steel city to set his crime fiction novels in. He is a former journalist and currently works as a freelance journalist and book reviewer for CrimeSquad; a website dedicated to crime fiction. His debut novel, For Reasons Unknown, was published in Autumn 2015 and the second in the series featuring DCI Matilda Darke is due for publication in late-Spring 2016.
Find Michael Wood on Twitter - @MichaelHWood
By Michael Wood
Published by Killer Reads (5 November 2015)
Two murders. Twenty years. Now the killer is back for more…
A darkly compelling debut crime novel. The start of a brilliant series, perfect for fans of Stuart MacBride, Val McDermid, and James Oswald.
DCI Matilda Darke has returned to work after a nine month absence. A shadow of her former self, she is tasked with re-opening a cold case: the terrifyingly brutal murders of Miranda and Stefan Harkness.
The only witness was their eleven-year-old son, Jonathan, who was too deeply traumatized to speak a word.
Then a dead body is discovered, and the investigation leads back to Matilda's case. Suddenly the past and present converge, and it seems a killer may have come back for more…
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