Writing Crime: Really Useful Links by Lucy O’Callaghan

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Lucy O'Callaghan

Lucy O’Callaghan

June is National Crime Reading Month so a perfect opportunity to discuss writing crime. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be looking at different aspects of crime writing. A good crime story is one with pace and tension. It’s a story that hooks the reader from the beginning and keeps a tight hold on them. There is a debate about whether crime fiction is character or plot-driven but whatever way you sway with that, characters and plot alone are not enough to hold your reader when it comes to crime. I have put together some articles, podcasts, and YouTube videos that cover some key techniques that are useful to use when writing crime fiction.

  1. How to Write a Crime Thriller: 7 Elements of Suspenseful Crime Fiction – 2023 – MasterClass

The page-turning genre of crime fiction stands out as one of the most popular genres of any fiction writing. The writer must balance writing a gripping plot with steady character development and vivid worldbuilding that puts readers right in the action. This article shares 7 elements of a suspenseful crime thriller, including deciding on your point of view and making sure that point of view is represented from the very first page; the set pieces are a key element that you build the rest of your narrative around. Peppering a few good crime scenes throughout your novel will keep things suspenseful for your reader; Give your reader something to fear: they want to experience the suspense of a lurking marauding cop gone rogue.

  1. How to Write a Crime Novel: 9 Tips for Writing Crime Fiction – 2023 – MasterClass

Another article from Masterclass. This one shares 9 tips for writing a crime novel, including reading the greats, writing what excites you, doing your research, beginning with the crime, and creating flawed heroes.

  1. How to Write Crime Fiction: A Beginner’s Guide – Writing Tips Oasis

This is great for beginners looking to write crime fiction. The article is divided into 3 parts: the crime itself, the plot, and how to build a crime puzzle. It discusses what crime fiction encompasses, choosing the crime, and crime fiction categories. When it comes to building a crime puzzle, it advises using unreliable narrators and foreshadowing, avoiding cliches and plot traps.

  1. Writing Crime Fiction – Suspense | Now Novel

Suspense is a critical aspect of writing crime. It arrives from conflict and you need to have a handle on the central conflict. Use a timeframe that adds urgency, and plan your red herrings so that there are several potential alternative answers. Now Novel tells us that we need to keep raising the stakes and that the stakes must be crucial to the characters. While you are constantly building suspense, the reader is trusting you to play fair so you must fulfil any promises that you make throughout the book. This means you must follow through on any major set-ups, and explain red herrings.

  1. Writing Crime Fiction: Mark Billingham’s Tips (thenovelry.com)

Mark Billingham, one of the UK’s most acclaimed and popular crime writers, shares ten top tips for writing crime fiction.

  1. Writing And Marketing Crime Fiction With Ed James (thecreativepenn.com)

Ed James, a Scottish crime author of over 20 crime and thriller novels, discusses the key elements of a good crime novel.

  1. Sophie Hannah on the recipe for a perfect crime novel – books podcast | Books | The Guardian

This podcast talks to Sophie Hannah about the recipe for the perfect crime novel, discussing impossible premises and the secrets of great crimes.


In this video, bestselling author, Sam Blake quizzes Graham Bartlett, a former homicide senior investigating officer, now a police procedural and crime advisor, Kate Bendelow, a serving CS investigator, and Dr. Emma Donnelly, a chartered Senior Clinical Forensic Psychologist, on the top three mistakes they see concerning their jobs in fiction.

Tom Bromley, a tutor from Professional Writing Academy offers advice for successful crime fiction writing.

Crime novels can be complex so you need to keep track of loose ends. Make sure the plot works and the finer threads make sense. Writing crime has the added difficulty of making sure you are correct when it comes to police procedurals so research in this area is key. At the same time, the technical work shouldn’t overwhelm a good story. I hope this week’s column has been helpful to you. As always, if there are any topics you would like me to cover then please get in touch.

(c) Lucy O’Callaghan

Instagram: lucy.ocallaghan.31.

Facebook: @LucyCOCallaghan

Twitter: @LucyCOCallaghan

About the author

Writing since she was a child, Lucy penned her first story with her father called Arthur’s Arm, at the ripe old age of eight. She has been writing ever since. Inspired by her father’s love of the written word and her mother’s encouragement through a constant supply of wonderful stationary, she wrote short stories for her young children, which they subsequently illustrated.
A self-confessed people watcher, stories that happen to real people have always fascinated her and this motivated her move to writing contemporary women’s fiction. Her writing has been described as pacy, human, moving and very real.
Lucy has been part of a local writing group for over ten years and has taken creative writing classes with Paul McVeigh, Jamie O’Connell and Curtis Brown Creative. She truly found her tribe when she joined Writer’s Ink in May 2020. Experienced in beta reading and critiquing, she is currently editing and polishing her debut novel.
Follow her on Instagram: lucy.ocallaghan.31. Facebook and Twitter: @LucyCOCallaghan

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