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!


Margot Kinberg 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/Riley Adams 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.