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Writing Tips

R.J. Harlick: Marching forward

The key to getting the job done, according to this mystery writer? Never look back.


"When I start out to write a new novel, I liken it to setting out on a long journey to a distant and unknown destination, along a route which is barely known and will change as the journey progresses. I write a scene at a time, one after the other until they fill a chapter. I always leave a scene with something hanging, which sets up the next scene. I never detour back to the earlier scenes, worried I would stop the story’s forward movement by getting sucked into the editing trap. But once the story’s end is reached, then the editing cycle begins."

Ottawa author R.J. Harlick writes the popular Meg Harris mystery series set in the wilds of West Quebec. Arctic Blue Death, the fourth in the series, was shortlisted for the 2010 Arthur Ellis Award. The fifth, A Green Place for Dying, was released in February. As the National Vice President of the Crime Writers of Canada, R.J. helped make Crime Month on Canada Writes a reality in May 2012.

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