Ian Rankin

Yesterday evening I joined a huge audience at the Charles Luney Auditorium at St Margaret’s College to listen to Ian Rankin talk about his writing. It was well worth the ticket price.

He talked about his early writing, how he started out, and how he writes his novels. This is what I took from what he said. He didn’t present the following as advice in his talk, but this is what he does, and I think it is probably good advice anyway (from my own biased perspective anyway):

  1. Write what you know, and draw from the vivid memories that are in your head.
  2. Create your own universe.
  3. Don’t plan until well into the story.
  4. Avoid writing about topics you don’t know much about, if doing so would make you look foolish. Rankin would not write about court proceedings for this reason, because he doesn’t have a legal background.
  5. Start with an issue, and follow it. This seems a good idea for crime fiction, but also for writing science-fiction.




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