Before you go

Do you want updates to great book deals that appear for a limited time only?


Tell us what's bugging you about the website.
We're here to help.


Blog For Authors: Crime Fiction

Now that we've gone through the essential elements that make a successful crime novel, here is a checklist to keep you on the path to success:

Using Maps and Sketches for Better Writing

Sketches of key locations and interiors are a safeguard against mistakes and sometimes suggest plot developments. When you write that Fred escaped through the bathroom window at the rear of the manor house and ran to the village without meeting a soul, your reader might recall that Mrs Greenfinger's vegetable garden adjoined the path he took, and that Mr Snoop was prone to lurk by her hedge in the hope of glimpsing her frisky niece. A sketch map would remind you that Fred must detour to escape unseen.

As a writer, getting the crime scene and the procedural of the police right is obviously a priority for your novel. In this section we look at ways and means of getting the forensics right and how, police divisions within the UK and how to kill off your characters.

Here is an extract from Stone Dead where the detective investigates the scene of a murder. Note how the forensic details come into play through the narrative's progression.

DC Dave Thomas parked the car at the end of the cul-de-sac and sat for a moment with the driver's window wound down, looking for his notebook and listening to the sound of a train as it clanked its way slowly through Parson Street railway station. The air was humid and smelt of cooked breakfasts and discarded takeaways. He glanced in the rear view mirror. The street was quiet except for a couple of youths kicking a football about at the far end of the street. So engrossed were they in their game that they hardly noticed him. Both wore the uniform he had come to associate with the youth of the impoverished area: the dreadlocks, black power T-shirts, the hipster trousers and Doc Marten boots. He wound up the window, then got out and locked the car. Best to be on the safe side.

He made his way past overgrown gardens until he drew level with the front door. It lay slightly ajar. From inside he could hear a baby crying and there was a smell of burning food. He knocked loudly on the paint-peeled door and waited, but there was no reply. He pushed the door wide, stepped inside and called again, this time louder.

Your opening is your selling point for your crime novel. It needs to grab the reader's attention by presenting to him/her something unusual or tantalising! We call this THE HOOK!

No matter what the genre, including crime fiction, we need to decide when writing, who will be telling the story. This is known as the viewpoint.

It's not only a question of the artist looking into himself but also of his looking into others with the experience he has of himself . He writes with sympathy because he feels that the other man is like him.
Georges Simenon

Let's start at the beginning by asking ourselves the questions: what is crime fiction and why choose to write it? The first question is perhaps the simplest of the two.

Here is the scenario. You have read crime fiction for some years. You have watched and enjoyed crime series on TV and you think you might write a best selling crime novel — or even series! What exactly do you need to know before you start your first novel?