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How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths [Kindle Edition]

Colleen Collins , Shaun Kaufman
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $6.99
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Book Description

Note from authors: As our investigations business only operates within the United States, this book is more helpful to those writing U.S. private eye characters. However, there are other topics that are universally applied and useful worldwide, such as the history of the PIs, equipping a PI business, finding people, conducting trash hits, handling surveillances, how a fictional PI might work with a crime scene, homicide or DNA gathering and analysis, culling tips from our answers to writers' questions, and the Gumshoe Glossary.

"I was surprised how much I learned and how much fun this book is. It's a 'what's going on in the field' that's like a pre-write fact checker...It can stand alone as an insider's guide to the world - the real world - of the private detective."
~David Y.B. Kaufmann

"If [this book] had been around when I was fiction editor for THE THRILLING DETECTIVE WEB SITE, my job would have been much easier."
~Gerald So, editor, writer, book reviewer, moderator DetecToday

****BOOK BLURB*****

The private eye genre has come a long way, baby, with new subgenres — from teenage PIs to vampire gumshoes to geriatric sleuths — attracting new readers every year. Unfortunately, most writers are not aware of the state-of-the-art developments that shape today’s professional private investigator, which sometimes leave writers floundering with impossible and antiquated devices, characters and methods in stories. Which is why we wrote How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths, whose material we culled from our combined 14 years as private investigators, and also from our teaching online classes and conducting workshops at writers’ conferences about writing private investigators. How to Write a Dick isn’t about how to write a novel, but what you need to know to write an authentic, compelling 21st-century sleuth character or story.


“Forget Google and Bing. When you need to research PI work, go to the experts, Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman: they live it, they teach it, they write it. How to Write a Dick is the best work of its kind I’ve ever come across because it covers the whole spectrum in an entertaining style that will appeal to layman and lawmen alike. This will be the industry standard for years to come.”
—Reed Farrel Coleman, three-time Shamus Award winner for Best PI Novel of the Year and author of Hurt Machine

“If you want authenticity in creating a fictional private investigator for your stories, then this is a must-have reference book. Its authors, Colleen and Shaun, are living breathing PIs with years of actual experience in the PI game.” —R.T. Lawton, 25 years on the street as a federal special agent and author of 4 series in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine

Product Details

  • File Size: 464 KB
  • Print Length: 246 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: WIN, Inc. (June 30, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00595K1UK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #400,345 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great title, great book August 5, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
I was clueless about PIs but I had a plot that wouldn't leave me alone without a detective character. The title of this one made it a no-brainer to check out, and it looked promising so I bought it. It was really helpful to me. I'm pretty paranoid about writing about professions I don't know anything about, but I feel pretty good about getting the details right this time. Great resource.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive and Easy to Understand June 5, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is an amazing book and I'm very happy that I got it. The authors cover so much ground about a PI's life and work, I'd find it hard to get a more thorough overview. Since this book is geared towards writers, I think the authors provided just the right amount of detail regarding specific PI work.

It's also a very enjoyable read. I highly recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful Resource April 22, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Interesting and useful. Keep this little manual handy, it does what it sets out to do with style and enjoyable anecdotes.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Resource! October 25, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was surprised how much I learned and how much fun this book is. It's a "what's going on in the field" that's like a pre-write fact checker. It also has prompts to help the writer integrate accurate information into his or her own work. It can stand alone as an insider's guide to the world - the real world - of the private detective. But it does more than that. It helps the writer with that all important verisimilitude - and does so in a way that entertains and inspires. (No, we're not related - I have two "N's"!)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Intro to PI Work November 8, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent resource for writers who want to get up to speed quickly on the art and science of private investigation--or for anyone else who's simply curious about what PIs do and how they do it. Kaufman and Collins, who run Highlands Investigations in Denver, introduce the various areas of work that investigators are hired for, from child custody disputes to financial fraud, explain work methods ranging from internet research to sorting through trash, and banish myths (unlike fictional sleuths, real-life PIs rarely carry guns). As a writer, I especially liked their lists of personality and character traits best suited to each type of PI work.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and Informative July 25, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
I'm an experienced writer, but I'm new to mystery and suspense. How to Write a Dick is exactly the kind of reference I need -- full of great information presented in an easy to understand format. The book has all the insider details a writer needs to make her story authentic. Collins and Kaufman make the book very entertaining with just the right touch of humor. It's a great book for anyone who wants to know more about what goes on in the life of a private investigator.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Going on my Keeper Shelf July 4, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
This is a book that's going to go on my keeper shelf. Informative, helpful and easy to read. I'm so glad I heard about it!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars How to Write a Dick rating
It's all covered in this quick read. Being a PI myself I could identify with the information and learned a lot at the same time. Read more
Published 18 days ago by The Writer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Information
I wanted to write a book about a private detective, but I'm a computer geek. I found this book and loved it. The style is breezy yet informative. Read more
Published 1 month ago by E. R. Marrow
4.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly Interesting
This book was fantastic! It's a (I think) really comprehensive look into the lives of real life Private Investigators, the challenges they face and the real legal issues of what... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Graham Downs
5.0 out of 5 stars Great How-to Book
As a writer myself, I believe hooking the reader is all in the details. This book breaks it down into important segments, allowing you to create a memorable and believable... Read more
Published 10 months ago by TravelGal
3.0 out of 5 stars It's a Dick
The book was okay but simply brings together the US experience so would work well in the US. But the rest of us 6.9 billion people will have to try to adapt. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Graham Parks
5.0 out of 5 stars Reference with writers in mind
HOW TO WRITE A DICK is an accessible, up-to-date guide to the realities of P.I. work uniquely tuned in to what fiction writers want/need to know. Read more
Published on January 8, 2012 by Gerald So
5.0 out of 5 stars Great How To Book
I can find all kinds of books that tell me how to craft a story or write a mystery, but none that helped me write my pet detective heroine. Read more
Published on November 8, 2011 by Zoe
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More About the Author

Colleen Collins is an award-winning author who's written several dozen novels for Harlequin and Dorchester. She has also indie-published a mystery novel (THE ZEN MAN) and several nonfiction books on private investigations. Her most recent nonfiction book is SECRETS OF A REAL-LIFE FEMALE PRIVATE EYE, and her current novel release is SLEEPLESS IN LAS VEGAS.

Her books have placed first in the Colorado Gold, Romancing the Rockies, and Top of the Peak contests, and placed in the finals for the Holt Medallion, Coeur de Bois Readers Choice, Award of Excellence, More than Magic, and Romance Writers of America RITA contests. The Zen Man was a semifinalist in the Best Indie Books 2012.

Colleen graduated with honors from the University of California Santa Barbara and completed graduate work in telecommunications. She has worked as a film production assistant, improv comic, telecommunications manager, technical writer/editor, speech writer, and private investigator. All these experiences play into her writing.

She's a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Private Eye Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

Colleen's blog:

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