3 Things All Writers Can Learn From… Crime

The headline refers of course, to the crime genre, not what writers can learn from committing crimes themselves. Don’t do that. Anyway, here we go with the next in my “3 Things..” series (previous posts linked at the bottom of this one), and this time we’re getting all suspicious with crime and mystery.

1) How to construct a mystery

A lot of crime stories rely on mystery. A crime is committed, then someone has to figure out whodunnit (and whydunnit and sometimes howdunnit). Often more crimes are committed, and thus finding the culprit and stopping them becomes even more imperative. All books, in my opinion, benefit from a bit of mystery, no matter what their main genre is. Big or small, one or many, unanswered questions form the basis of most fiction, and crime writing can show the best way to build your mystery.

2) How to sustain a series

Crime stories seem to lend themselves to a series. There are many ways of forming crime stories and it seems a never-ending appetite to seeing what happens. Crimes are also committed in all countries and throughout history. So you could set your series wherever and whenever takes your fancy. The glue between them is usually their main character or characters. It can be tough to sustain one character through a lot of books without getting repetitive or staid. If you’re planning a series in any genre, check out crime novels to see how to develop a character across many books.

3) How to create anti-heroes

Not all crime fiction is about solving a crime. Some stories focus on the criminals whether that be in organised crime or heists. So often the protagonists are more like anti-heroes than heroes. Writing an anti-hero can be tricky. You need to get your readers commitment, if not always their sympathy. Anti-heroes are popular to write about because they can be so interesting and are never black and white. But they can be tricky too. To far either way and they risk becoming the hero or the villain.

Related reads

3 Things All Writers Can Learn From… Fantasy

3 Things All Writers Can Learn From… Romance

5 Ways To Wordsmith Your Writing


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