September 6th, 2012

Almost six months after we began, I’m happy to announce the publication of a book I wish I’d had when I started to write, MAKING STORY: TWENTY-ONE WRITERS ON HOW THEY PLOT.

The title tells you most of what you need to know. Twenty-one crime writers join together to spill the dirty little secrets of how they plot their books.  (Writers of any kind of fiction will find the book useful.)

Reading the essays was pretty dazzling for me.  With God only knows how many books behind me (counting those published under other names and those that, perhaps mercifully, weren’t published at all), I still learned something from every single piece in the book.  There may be only three basic ways to plot a book — plotting, pantsing, or a combination of the two — but there’s a nearly infinite number of variations on those themes.

The writers who tell all in the book have, among them, written more than 100 novels and won virtually every prize in crime fiction.  Here’s who they are: Michael Stanley, Kelli Stanley, Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Jeffrey Siger, Zoe Sharp, Stephen Jay Schwartz, Mike Orenduff, Debbi Mack, Wendy Hornsby, Gar Anthony Haywood, Leighton Gage, Jeremy Duns, Bill Crider, Meredith Cole, Jeffrey Cohen, Rebecca Cantrell, Rachel Brady, Lisa Brackmann, Cara Black,  Brett Battles, and me (I?).

The form of the book is interesting, I think.  Each writer’s essay is followed by an excerpt from a recent book so readers can go straight from the process to the product. At the end of the book is a round-table discussion in which most of the writers weigh in on questions that were asked by the book’s beta readers.   It’s impossible, literally, for me to imagine any writer reading the entire book without coming away with ideas and insights on how we transform material into stories.

And I want to give a particular shout-out to Everett Kaser, who proofed this until his eyes fell out, and to Hitch, Barb, Leonard, and all the other folks at who turned the word files into such an elegant ebook.

Oh, yeah.  At this point it’s Kindle only, although other editions will follow of this one sparks any interest.  It’s only $3.99, and you can find it at

I’m proud to have been a part of it.  And we’re envisioning an ongoing TWENTY-ONE WRITERS PROJECT that will put out books on various aspects of writing.  Next up, I think is creating characters.


11 Responses to “THE PLOT THICKENS”

  1. Gary Says:

    Thanks, Tim. (And thanks, Everett!)

    I’m DEFINLY gonna download this one.

  2. Dying is Easy, Comedy is Hard « Debbi Mack: My Life on the Mid-List Says:

    […] And here are Tim’s thoughts about that. […]

  3. EverettK Says:

    Great book, Tim (and all the other GREAT writers included)!!! I was impressed after reading the book the first time, and was still picking up things about plotting that I’d missed previously on my third (or fourth?) pass. A VERY cool book that any writer (beginning or not) should enjoy. As for non-writers (ie, readers) it’s ALSO a great book, as I got introduced to a LOT of new (to me) writers that I’d not read before, and reading their essays and excerpts from their books was a wonderful way to ‘sample’ some new writers!

    I’m looking forward to the next book in the series! What’s the hold-up, Tim???

  4. Fay Moore Says:

    Thanks for introducing us to this book. I am going to post about it on my writer’s blog. Hope it translates to some sales for you.

  5. Sylvia Says:

    Just picked up my copy and very much looking forward to reading it!

  6. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Hi, everybody. First, I want to say how much I regret having let this blog slide — so few posts, and then not even having the courtesy to respond from time to time. I haven’t even got an excuse; just working too much, I suppose, and distracted with the demands of life.

    Fay, thank you so much for plugging the book and for liking it. I hope it continues to be useful to you. Sylvia, I hope you enjoy it — I’m serious when I say it’s the book I wish I’d had when I started writing.

    Gary, let me know what you think — I’m actually quite eager, despite the way I’ve allowed this blog to tarnish.

    And Everett, my man, we really could NOT have done it without you! You were indispensable — after all 21 of us looked at it, you still found a bunch of howlers.

    Thanks to all. I’m going to liven this up, starting immediately.

  7. Suzanna Says:

    Sounds good, Tim. Love this blog and have missed it.

  8. Gary Says:

    Well, Tim, let me start by saying that when I found out how eminent the editor of this book was, I decided to pay an extra $2 just to get it.


  9. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Gary, I’m sorry — I have no idea how Amazon prices these things out of the USA. I’ve had people tell me they paid $5.99 for the Juniors, too. Hope you like it, though.

    Sanna, now all I need to do is follow through.

  10. Gary Says:

    C’mon – just kidding. It’s a great book!

    Brett Battles has made me rethink pantsing (although in your intro I didn’t notice any signs of redemption!); Cara Black is making me love butcher paper, instead of plot notes scattered randomly through Word files; Lisa Brackmann has reconverted me to loving pantsing again; Rachel Brady has swung me from butcher paper to back to plot notes in Word files…

    And so on. It’s a stimulating, thought-provoking book. Thanks so much for all the hard work to produce a resource that lots of people are going to use. (If they’ve got any brains!)

  11. continuer à lire Says:

    il est trop magnifique ce blog merci beaucoup avez vous d’autre article de ce genre merci en tout les cas a bientot :))

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