Writing, Policing, and the Collision of Two Professions

I’m honored to be one of the newest members of Murder Books. Since we just met, I wanted to tell you a little more about myself and how I got to this point in my writing career.

Micki 50
Micki Browning

I hate being a beginner. I understand it’s a rite of passage, but really, I’m not a patient woman. When I entered the police academy, I had to contend with learning a new profession—how to shoot a gun, apply statutes, arrest someone who didn’t want to go to jail, comfort a person in crisis. And me being me, I wanted to be the best. A couple of weeks into the program, though, I just wanted to survive.

Writing is startling similar to attending the police academy. One enters the profession as a cocky cadet, but quickly learns there is a crushing learning curve that will weed out anyone who lacks commitment.

Unless one counts police reports, I didn’t have any formal training as a writer, and my initial efforts reflected that. My first two books ended up in a drawer under mismatched pillowcases and a gaggle of orphaned socks.

In the academy, I was taught to never give up. So, I studied harder. Wrote more. Dreamed bigger.

Adrift, changed everything. That book captured the attention of first an agent, and then an editor at an imprint of Random House. After it was published, it earned an Agatha Award nomination for Best First Novel. Beached was published a year later and won the Florida Writers Association’s Royal Palm Literary Award for Best Mystery and Published Book of the Year.

I’ve recently taken to dissecting books. The act is an autopsy of sorts, although instead of trying to learn what killed each story, I’m seeking to learn what authorial tricks made the story compelling. I have an ulterior motive. I want you to keep reading my books.

My next novel is grittier, more complex—both in story and structure. I employ multiple viewpoints, explore deeper themes, and draw upon the lessons I learned as an officer and an author.

This second career is every bit as important to me as my first. In the police academy, I did more than survive. When I walked across the stage to receive my diploma, I walked off with the academic achievement award as well. I spent twenty-two years in law enforcement and retired as a division commander. During my tenure, I was a hostage negotiator, PIO, the commander of the evidence room, records bureau, hiring and recruitment, internal affairs, and the investigative bureau. I’ve shot a lot of rounds (on the range), had one lobbed at me (not on the range), and managed to retire without collecting too many scars.

Everyone starts as a beginner. No one has to end that way. I’m honored to be able to share some of the things I learned along the way.

10 thoughts on “Writing, Policing, and the Collision of Two Professions

  1. Great post, Micki. I am still in my “first” career, just beginning my writing experience. Nonetheless, I can relate to the collision, and sometime synergy, of the two worlds. I look forward to to reading your latest!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks Ben! For me, the synergy only developed after I had a solid foundation of craft. At the beginning, I put way too much procedural detail in my tales–which kept me out of the courtroom as a cop, but just got in the way of the story as a novelist. I suspect I’ll always struggle with that (as my latest revision proved), but it’s easier to take detail out than it is in putting it in!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As you know, police work can be hours of routine A to B punctuated by sudden moments of bladder evacuation avoidance testing. Exciting or hair standing on end moments keep the reader hooked but the story can suffer without a bit of that good old A to B. Your success shows you have found the mix that works. Good job, resume patrol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The B.E.A. testing moments do make for great fiction, but you are right, the story still needs to have structure, or it’s really just a war story told at choir practice. Like a good squad, it’s all in the mix. Thanks for commenting. Hope to see you on the streets!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post, Micki. I’m so glad you have joined us here in Murder Books. I’m always thrilled to see another brother or sister in blue transition from carrying a badge and gun for a living to writing stories about characters doing the same heroic actions we experienced during our careers. I’m looking forward to reading your books.

    Liked by 1 person

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