5 Fabulous Tips For First-Time Crime Writers

5 Fabulous Tips For First-Time Crime Writers


In this post, we discuss the benefits of writing crime and give you five fabulous tips for first-time crime writers.

I always suggest that beginner writers try writing crime if they’re not sure where to start, because it has guidelines that force writers to plan their story. Remember that you can cross genres and write Sci-Fi Crime or Fantasy Crime.

It is also a good starting point because crime novels continue to outsell all other genres. More than 40% of all novels sold belong to this genre. (Source)

What are the plot guidelines? 

In this genre, the plot centres on a crime, usually a murder, being committed. The protagonist, usually a detective, enters the scene. This character has to track down the antagonist, and solve the crime.

As authors, we have to put lots of obstacles in his or her way, and continually raise the stakes. We then create a showdown, allow the protagonist the opportunity to apprehend the antagonist, and solve the crime.

5 Fabulous Tips For First-Time Crime Writers

  1. Create a terrifying antagonist. Make him or her three-dimensional. A good way to do this is by giving him a personal connection to the protagonist other than through the crime.
  2. Create a dangerous scenario. Put your protagonist in a terrible situation. How did that character get there? You can work backwards to discover the plot.
  3. Make it worth it. Make sure your protagonist risks something important, for example, a detective could risk his career, or risk a relationship to catch the antagonist.
  4. Make sure there are reasons. Give your protagonist a strong motive, for example, revenge, justice, survival, and isolate him from his comfort zones.
  5. Remove irrelevant scenes. Nothing – no matter how exciting it seems to you – should be left in, if it does not serve the plot. The plot must involve the reader. The easiest way to do this is to create problems that have important consequences.

More than any other genre, every scene, description, action, and conversation should advance your plot in crime writing.

Your protagonist should be three-dimensional with problems, a history, a driving passion, and a clearly-defined story goal (usually to catch the antagonist).

Your antagonist should be equal to your protagonist. He or she should be believable, dangerous, and his or her motivation should be shown.

The supporting cast, which could include a sidekick, a confidant and a love interest, should be interesting, quirky and edgy. Use them as sounding boards and mirrors for your hero. Have fun with them. You can also develop sub-plots around these characters.

Ideas Are Everywhere

If you’re looking for plot ideas for your next crime novel, read human-interest articles in the news, listen to gossip, and watch trends in sport, movies, music, and illness. Read good and bad magazines, watch a news bulletin at least twice a week, and read novels from the genre.

by Amanda Patterson
© Amanda Patterson

If you enjoyed this post, read:

  1. All About Writing Crime Fiction – Five Reasons to Write Crime
  2. 7 Deadly Rules For Creating A Villain
  3. 50 (or so) Fabulous Resources For Crime Writers

If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg or sign up for our online course.

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  1. Tilly

    Thanks so much! This is awesomeeeee.

  2. Mariana

    Woah, Really? interesting.

  3. Writers Write

    We’re glad it helped.

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