About this course
Crafting Crime is the ultimate crime novel writing course for independent study.
Crafting Crime allows you to study and develop your skills as a crime writer in your own time over six months. There are no classroom or interactive sessions. Nor is there any need to submit your work for others to read, or read work from other course participants. We simply offer you a wealth of knowledge and expertise from a master crime writer, supplemented by helpful advice from leading crime writers from around the world.
The modules are presented in a series of detailed pdfs and in podcast Q&A between Martin Edwards and Dea Parkin, recorded at historic Gladstone’s Library, home of the UK’s crime-writing archive.
You are welcome to revisit the modules as many times as you like over six months. Please note that all course materials are protected by copyright and may not be shared with anyone else.
Practical tips from crime writers such as Elly Griffiths, Michael Robotham and many other leading crime novelists from the UK, US, Australia, South Africa, China, Japan, India, Iceland and China are included in the modules. We aim to give you a fuller understanding of how to satisfy readers throughout the world. There’s advice from literary agents too.
The course is aimed primarily at participants with some experience of writing who want to produce a full-length novel. However, beginner writers will also find it very useful. Our aim is that if you have some skill and follow the advice, you should be able to write a publishable crime novel. That’s not to say it will be published, of course, or read if you choose to self-publish; we can’t guarantee that. However, our aim is not only to get you into good writing habits and think carefully about your work, but also to prepare you for the ups and downs of the writing life.
‘What I’m looking for in a crime novel is something that feels fresh and pushes the boundaries of the genre. As a reader, I want to be engaged and transported by the narrative and the characters. As a crime and thriller reader, I’m always looking for the clues to work out ‘whodunnit’ or ‘whydunnit’ and I like to be challenged. What puts me off is when the denouement feels contrived, the characters two-dimensional, the dialogue unbelievable, or the plotting is lazy.
As a publisher, if I’m asking a reader to pay however much for a book, then I want to ensure that it’s the best book of its kind that it can be and that they’ll enjoy it.’
– Katherine Armstrong, Deputy Publishing Director (Adult Fiction), Simon & Schuster
The course is aimed primarily at participants with some experience of writing who want to produce a full-length novel. However, beginner writers will also find it very useful. Our aim is that if you have some skill and follow the advice, you should be able to write a publishable crime novel. That’s not to say it will be published, of course, or read if you choose to self-publish; we can’t guarantee that. However, our aim is not only to get you into good writing habits and think carefully about your work, but will also prepare you for the ups and downs of the writing life. These are the 12 modules:
Where Are We Going? – Starting the Journey
"When you’re starting out, try not to be hidebound by categories or labels. Experimenting with the possibilities of the genre is part of its appeal."
Where Do You Find Your Ideas? – Finding Inspiration
"If events you’ve read about in the news awaken your deepest fears, why not turn them into thrilling fiction, and exercise control over what happens next? Writing crime fiction can be therapeutic and empowering."
Who Are You? – Crafting Characters
"Encourage readers to believe that your people live and breathe outside the confines of the story. Memorable characters don’t exist solely in a particular scene. They were alive before the story began and they will live (at least in some cases!) after it ends."
Where Are You Taking Us? – Place and Period
"When making your choices about where and when to locate your book, it’s better not to think of setting as an optional extra, mere interesting ‘background’, but rather as integral to your story."
What’s Going On? – Plot
"Writers may feel nervous or inhibited about plotting because it’s perceived as difficult to do well. Plotting is a literary skill like any other, and you can learn and develop it."
What Happens Next? – Page-turning Stories
"Creating suspense is important. So how do you do it? One key way is to trade in uncertainty."
Who’s Talking? – Viewpoint and Voice
"Using multiple narrators allows for pleasing contrast, if you achieve compelling variations in tone of voice, while differing interpretations of events will help to increase the sense of mystery and develop the plot."
How Do You Make It Work? – Structure
"How a story is built up is crucial to its overall effect. What is more, creating a well-structured novel should be as pleasing an experience for the crime writer as reading the book is for the crime fan."
Are We Nearly There Yet? – Enriching the Novel
"Foreshadowing is an important component of most well-crafted novels. It’s a means of building a sense of anticipation and dramatic tension, hinting at what is yet to come…"
Is This Your Life? – Writing for a Living
"This course aims to encourage you to cultivate a professional attitude and approach to your writing, even if you haven’t yet been paid for a single piece of your prose."
Do You Think You’ve Finished? – Now the Work Starts
"One of the most common issues I find when editing novels is that writers haven’t worked out when to dramatise and when to report."
Do You Write Under Your Own Name? – The Author’s World
"A key theme of this course is how important it is to keep writing. The more you write, the more quickly your skills will develop."