The Killer Guide To Writing Crime Fiction
So you've decided you want to write Crime Fiction.
Crime Fiction is Plot Driven
Types of Crime Fiction.
Future Hubs and community invite
So you've decided to write Crime Fiction.
Before you go rushing off with pen and paper in hand, lets take a few moments to decide if this genre is right for you.
Firstly believe it or not, a crime features in almost every work of literature you will come across. Look for example at Shakespere, the works of Thomas Hardy, I'm thinking of Tess ot the D'Urbevilles here, Jane Austen, Dickens, the list goes on and on.
But these novels, although a crime features in them are not specifically crime novels.
So what makes a novel a work iof crime fiction?
The crime and detection of that crime are CENTRAL to the novel. Everything else is merely window dressing, subplot and red herrings designed to fool the reader into not guessing the perpetrator until the very ending of the book.
Crime Fiction is Plot Driven.
What do I mean by this?. You will read this in loads of books and the explanations they will give you are usually very complex or obscure.
Put very simply, a plot-driven novel is one where things happen.
Yes it's that simple.
Let's take the example of a bit of "cosy" crime fiction. (Don't worry, I'll explain about the term "cosy" in the next section.
A body is found in a Library. Some busybody old lady interviews everyone, comes to conclusions and solves the murder before the police do.
Simple isn't it? Yet Agatha Christie's Miss Marple is famous worlwide and has been turned into countless TV and film adaptations.
Now lets turn to "hardboiled" crime fiction writing.
Hardboiled crime fiction, as exemplified by the Raymond Chandler school of writing is usually told in the first person, that is by the lead character. The basic plot runs as follows.
Detective sits in office, someone enters, she (it's usually a woman who the detective doesn't like) usually has a problem. detective agrees to help, usually unwillingly. He then has toi investigate, usually at great risk to himself, (Hidden enemies are usually trying to kill him) until the mystery is solved.
Again, a little more complex but in escence still a simple idea. Again, Sam Spade and the Maltese Falcon are best sellers.This led to the mystery or suspense genre style of crime fiction.
Every plot starts with a premise such as the two examples above.
Lets start by looking at types of crime fiction available on the market today.
Types of Crime Fiction
Middle-Class England in the '20's and 30's. An age when the middle-classes seemed to hold sway over England. Yet they had fears and worries. Chief aming these was the fear of crime. The underclasses were percieved as a growing threat, socialism and a new world order were taking root in Russia . The middle classes needed something to assure that everything was cosy in their little sheltered world of English Villages and tea on the lawn.
Murder was never described in graphic detail and the cosy world was never really in any danger because the middle-class detective would piece together the puzzle until the final denoument when the criminal was unmasked. usually by all the suspecgts being gathered together in one place for the final unveiling. Then after all that, middle-class England could return to its middle-class ways knowing that justice had been done.
The reader could also attempt to unravel the clues as the book unfolded and this helped the reader to have a sense of security knowing that their mind was superior to that of the crimal portrayed in the book.
Often derided, the cosy form of crime fiction writing has now had somewhat of a resurgence due to writers ( and readers ) getting bored with serial killers, autopsies and too much forensic information.
Read Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers,
- The official Agatha Christie website - www.agathachristie.com
The Official Agatha Christie website. Find out all about the famous crime writer here, search her novels, play games and download a screensaver.
- The Dorothy L Sayers Society
Lord Peter Wimsey, the great upper class detective is one of the classics. I'm a real fan A must read for anyone considering a career in writing crime fiction
Hardboiled Crime Fiction
The world of Raymond Chandler.
Have you ever wondered why so many films are set in Los Angeles? It is because of Raymond Chandlers writing about the seamier side of the city. His anti-Hero Philip Marlowe is a down- at heel private detective who lives in the shadowy world of gangsters, their molls and constant danger. He is not averse to being on the other side of the law. Something that would be unheard of in an English cosy crime novel.
None of your puzzle solving here. More than just a crime novellist, Chandler crossed over into the thriller genre. Life is tough on the streets and gets tougher throughout the books.
Chandler rebelled against the customary cosy format, realising that US readers would not relate to the world of Middle Class England as typified by Agatha Christie.
his success can be judged by the fact that every one of his full-length novels was made into a film by Hollywood.
- The Raymond Chandler Web Site
The best resource on the net for Chandlers life and Works
Follows the works of detectives as they hunt for the perpetrators of crime. Usually very detailed and relying heavily on the inter relationships between officers, station gossip and the like as sub-plots to the genre.
A modern tendency is to involve some kind of serial killer or psychopath who causes mayhem usually be committing gruesome murders and the police have to stop him before he strikes again and again..
I would advise against this.
The resergance of the cosy genre, indicates that the market is once again rebelling against the accepted norms. Everyone has a serial killer in their books. Every detective has marital problems. Every chief officer is female and what is more is a lesbian. this is not a diatribe against lesbians it is just that once again, these topics have been done to death and the market is looking for something fresher.
Likewise, the autopsy. Kay Scarpetta, Patricia Cornwell's hero is a pathologist and pathology gets ever more cliche'd in the mind of the public. Treat with caution. Silent Witness is autopsy gone mad. We don't need the police to investigate, the case is solved in the morgue.
Modern Authors include Ian Rankin - inspector Rebus
Stephen Booth DC Cooper and DS Fry
Hill Street Blues is the most typical US TV show for this type of series. I love it.
- Ian Rankin - The official site for the Rebus novels and their author
This is the website for anyone looking for information about Ian Rankin, filled with news from Ian about his books and his life, as well as the latest reviews and events dates.
- Stephen Booth
Set in the hills of Derbyshire England, Cooper and Fry investigate strange murders ang occourences. I can recommend his first novel Black Dog. In fact I recommend you read them all.
- Hill Street Blues - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Info on perhaps the greatest US TV series ever made. Feel free to disagree if you will but the writing was superb. Besides I was in love with Joyce Davenport.
The Master of the genre, John Grisham writes about lawyers. It's something he knows well. if you have a grounding in the law, it may be wise to write in this sub-genre.
Again, beware of cliché. The man sentenced to death for a crine he didn't commit is hackneyed to say the least. Find a new twist to the courtroom scene and you have a winner.
Another thing to watch for is getting bogged down in legal technicalities. fine for the lawyers but boring for the reader.
Ali McBeal is the greatest example of TV courtroom drama there is. Learn from the writing and fresh approach to the classic courtroom drama.
- John Grisham Official Website
Its all here. A great looking site too. I recommend Street lawyer as one of his finest works.
Future hubs and my community.
Future hubs will continue on this theme.
The next hub I plan to write is on plotting for the crime novel as i use some pretty unorthodox techniques to achieve proper structure for what the current market is looking for.
If you are a budding crime writer, please join our ning community.
You get your own page, forums, a place to host video and photos, groups to match your own speciality or you can create your own.
Plus it's a great place to meet new friends who are of a like mind.
Just click on the link below.