Tips on Writing Crime Fiction

Tips on Writing Crime Fiction

Plot – Key to Everything

The plot comes before everything else. Each plot point must be plausible and must keep the action moving.

Keep track of who has done what and when to avoid continuity errors. Keep notes on what characters perform what actions.

Speculate on the emotional journey of all main characters concerned from the beginning to story resolution.



Backstory when given too much can bog the story down.

Use the backstory to reveal the motives of the characters.


The Detective

The detective is the main character and needs to be introduced early.

The detective should solve the case using only rational and scientific methods.

The detective should not commit the crime.

Avoid stereotypical detectives.

Give the hero faults.


The Culprit

The culprit (antagonist, villain) also needs to be introduced as a viable suspect early in the story.

The reader must be able to believe the villain’s motivation, and he/she must be capable of the crime physically and emotionally.

Reveal the culprit late into the story. If the readers knows who did it too early, there is no reason to continue reading the story.

Avoid stereotypical villains.

Make the villain human, not purely evil. Revealing human aspects can make him more disturbing.

Some criminals do things because of economic or family situations, without being really bad people.


The Crime

The crime should be introduced within the first three chapters. The ensuing questions about the crime are what hooks the reader.

The crime should be violent enough to keep the reader’s interest, preferably a murder.

The crime should be believable, something that could actually happen.


The Clues

All clues should be revealed to the reader as the detective finds them. Don’t try to fool the reader.


Solving the Crime

Dialogue is critical for crime writing. It is crucial to show good communication in getting information from people.

Show how non-verbal body cues are read in the investigation.



Get all the essentials of the crime, the setting, and the people right.

Understand how an investigation works.

Understand how a forensic investigation proceeds.



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Crime Fiction: The Truth About Police Investigation with Joe Giacalone: