Developing a Story From an Idea with Liz Fielding

Author Liz Fielding talks about Developing a story from an idea. She has a new book out this month, Murder Among the Roses

Liz Fieding 

Liz Fielding met her husband when they were both working in Zambia and were keen members of the Lusaka Theatre Club. He was playing John de Stogumber in St Joan, and she was the pageboy to the Earl of Warwick. He swore it was the purple tights that got him.
Years spent in Africa and the Middle East provided the background to many of Liz's romances. Her first, An Image of You, was set in Kenya, in a place where they had spent many happy weekends on safari. It was plucked from the slush pile because the feisty feminist heroine made her editor laugh. Emotion touched with humour has been the hallmark of her work ever since.
After writing 70 books for Harlequin Mills and Boon, Liz has now turned to crime, signing with Joffe Books for three "Maybridge Mysteries", the first of which, Murder Among the Roses, is published on 18th April.

 Liz Fielding on the web:

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Developing a Story From an Idea with Liz Fielding 

It's one of the most common questions an author is asked. "Where do you get your ideas from?"

The answer is always the same. Ideas are everywhere. In every headline, news broadcast and glimpse of a house through the trees.

The problem is that an idea is not a story. It's just a stepping stone onto the page. 

I had a big idea many years ago after watching a documentary, Forgotten Lives, about women who were locked up for "moral delinquency". These were girls from poor backgrounds with very little education and possibly learning difficulties who were, in the main, the victims of men who'd taken advantage of them. Many of them spent half a lifetime in mental institutions.

So I had the idea for a cozy crime novel. I even wrote a few thousand words that I was pretty pleased with, but it wasn't going to be a fit for the books I was contracted to write, I had deadlines, so I put it to one side.

Every so often I'd take it out and look at it. I still liked it, but I had a contract with a publisher who wouldn't be interested in that book, and deadlines.

And then came lockdown.

I'd delivered the last book on my contract and, since the idea was still burning a hole in my brain, I decided it was time to throw some fuel on the fire and gave myself six months to see if I could write it.

Murder Among the Roses was still only an idea, but I'm an into-the-mist writer so I thought, no problem. I'll write as far as the headlights reach. It's always worked before....

That works when your story is focussed on two people falling in love, usually against their better judgement. (If there wasn't a problem, there wouldn't be a story.) Even if I didn't know how I was going to get there, I knew the destination. I usually had that scene in my head.

This new book was different. It wasn't going to be a short romance. This was about some terrible things that had happened in the past and a murder. And I realised, quite soon, that by the end of chapter two I was in serious need of more characters. Preferably with motives for killing the victim.

This was a whole new experience. When writing short romance, you don't have room for lots of characters. It's tightly focussed, with just enough interesting (and three dimensional) characters to provide the world.

This was a much longer book and I needed a lot of characters. And names. I was grabbing names out of the air, just so that I could keep writing. Here are a couple of really useful #writingtips. 

Before you start writing, create a list of names suitable for the ages and education of the characters you think you're going to need.

Before you start writing, create a spreadsheet and add the name, and at least a few details, about each character as they appear.

If you do that, you won't end up, as I did, with three minor characters called Steve and a Dolly, Polly and Olly...

Back to the flying into the mist thing. When I was writing romance I often didn't know exactly what the problem was until quite near the end, but as long as I was delivering on the romance and giving them a black moment or two, the characters would finally take pity on me and let me into their secrets.

In crime, you don't have to know who did it when you set out. It actually helps if you don't – if you don't know, you can't inadvertently give it away - but you do have to have a number of suspects, all with a good reason for wanting the victim dead.

I'd like to be able to say that I have that one nailed, but I'm still working on it, although I'm just about to embark on the third Maybridge Mysteries and I do have a list of suspects. (I still need to make that list of useful names.)

I was still finding my way on the first book and quickly discovered that once you have suspects, you have to give them a real motive for killing the victim.

But the real fun of writing crime (with some romance and a lot of emotion – don't panic, this a Liz Fielding with bodies) is that when I set out I don't know the destination. I'm on the same journey as my amateur detective heroine and we uncover the murderer's identity together. 

Murder Amongst the Roses, the first Maybridge Mysteries cozy crime, is published on 18 April 2023 by Joffe Books.


In the peaceful Cotswolds village of Maybridge, you wouldn’t expect to find a dead body in the rose garden. And certainly not two.

Abby is horrified to discover the bones of a baby buried under a rose bush. It’s in the garden of her soon-to-be ex-husband Howard’s family home.

She immediately calls the police. But she can’t get hold of Howard. He’s off on a jolly with the woman he’s got pregnant.

And then, just two days later, Abby finds Howard himself.
Lying dead in the very same rose garden.
Throat slashed with her own garden spade.

Now Abby is the prime suspect . . .

Fans of Faith Martin, Jane Adams, Frances Evesham, M.C. Beaton, Clare Chase or Jeanne M. Dams will love this addictive cozy mystery!

Brilliant gardener and the busy mum of three, Abby Finch’s dreams of winning gold at Chelsea Flower Show were put on hold by an unplanned pregnancy and marriage. But she wouldn’t have it any other way. These days she’s kept on her toes looking by her beloved family, running her own business and dealing with her imminent divorce. In an effort to keep things cordial, she’s allowed her ex to bully her into restoring the garden of his family home. Thankfully she’s surrounded herself with a great group of friends to lean on.

Pretty Maybridge is a charming village set in the sheep-dotted Cotswolds hills, with a long history stretching back to Tudor times. It’s the type of place where everyone knows each other, but there's a wonderful bookshop on the corner of the bridge, a popular riverside café and a bustling market at Christmastime. And with Bristol nearby and a big supermarket round the corner.

Buy on:

Amazon Kindle            Amazon UK           Amazon Aust

Watch the trailer for a teaser of the story...


  1. Yeah, not convenient to get a mystery idea when you're a romance writer (and you have deadlines). I'm glad the mystery finally got written.

    1. Thanks so much, Liz. It took a while, but I got there in the end and the journey was very much worth it.

    2. Congrats on the book!

  2. The book sounds good. Nice to meet Liz.

  3. Thank you, Christine. Good to meet you, too. The book is available at the launch price of 99c, so worth a sample download to see if you think it might be for you. Or free on KU. :)

  4. What a fascinating post and over 70 books. Kudos to you. Love that cover.

    1. Thanks so much, Sandra and for the cover love. I have my nails painted that exact blue!

  5. Oh, fantastic news on your success. And thank you for the tips. Happy writing!

  6. So interesting.. thanks for sharing.

  7. Knowing the destination, the end of a story, always helps me to develope the story.

  8. Hello, Liz! Best of luck with your latest book.

  9. Great advice and I love that cover! Best of luck to Liz! :)

  10. Thank you for visiting the blog and for the good wishes. I'm glad you found it useful.

  11. Great advice and your books looks great. Love the cover.

  12. Awesome tips. Thanks for sharing!

  13. You're right about finding ideas all over the place. The trick is turning them into a good story. Thanks for sharing your tips. I like your book trailer. Not fancy, but it gets the point across nicely.

  14. LOL, Sherry. You've hit the nail on the head there! And not just a trick - jolly hard work. :) Right now I have all the ideas, but I have six months and anywhere between 65,000 and 80,000 words to turn them into a story.


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