Sunday 7 February 2010

A New Floating Admiral?

Round robin detective novels fascinate me. I’ve mentioned before the round robin books produced by the Detection Club, such as The Scoop, Behind The Screen, Ask a Policeman and most notably The Floating Admiral. These were stories written by a group of writers, with one person kicking off the book with an opening chapter, and then others developing the story in turn.

I’ve now fulfilled an ambition by participating in a round robin book of this kind. It’s not complete at present, though, and subject to confidentiality, so I can’t say too much about it – but it’s not a product of the Detection Club this time.

A question that is often asked is whether such books are planned in advance. Certainly, the project in which I’ve participated has not involved pre-planning – everyone has made it up as they have gone along! I was asked to contribute the sixth of ten projected chapters and I found it a very enjoyable experience. The fact that I have in the past finished The Lazarus Widow, which Bill Knox began, stood me in good stead.

Will the project see the light of day? I really hope so, and all being well it will happen, because a number of much more eminent writers than me are involved. But one thing is for sure. I really don’t envy the person who has to write the final chapter and bring all the strands of the story together!


Anonymous said...

Martin - This does sound really interesting!! I've co-written nonfiction, but not fiction before. It would be, I think, very interesting to do so. I look forward to learning more about the book when you're free to share, and to reading the book when it's available.

Ann Elle Altman said...

A lot of people don't like these sorts of novel - both to read and to write. My opinion? I haven't read enough of them to make a decision. I suppose it would be an interesting concept to take part in. I think for me though, I might be frustrated if the story does not go as I planned it in my mind.


Deb said...

I'll have to pull out my beat-up paperback of The Floating Admiral and give it another look-see. I seem to remember thinking it was a clever concept, but the story didn't stay with me at all (I remember nothing about it, except that I read it). The most interesting thing about the book was a section at the end where each of the participating writers explained how their version of the story would play out.

Dorte H said...

What an interesting project! I hope it will be a great experience for you and your co-writers.

Only a year ago I would have claimed I could not write anything together with anyone else, but I think I have told you before that I am in fact writing a police procedural together with an online friend. I have never met her, but I really enjoy working with her. Our writing styles are not too different, and I think we are quite good at encouraging each other.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Sounds fun...and challenging! Glad you're enjoying the process.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Martin Edwards said...

It certainly is a nice type of project to work on, though I suspect, Deb, that your reaction is like most people's. The chances of a round robin story being a masterpiece are slim, though it's interesting to see how different writers work with the material created by their colleagues. An intriguing insight into craft, perhaps, rather than a template for literary excellence!

kathy d. said...

This is interesting and has potential to be good. The only round-robin mystery I read was not good.

As I recall, I thought the writing in three chapters was excellent and they stood out from the others which weren't.

But it has a lot of promise as a style.

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Kathy. The more I think about these round robin books, the more I think that much of their appeal hinges on the insight they give (usually) into the craft of writing as practised by different people, working for once together.