Hit the target with crime fiction and you’ll be rewarded with success in a very lucrative market.
Crime and thriller fiction fans tend to stick to their favourite genre, and in some cases will have read so many stories of cunning, woe, and carnage that it can seem as though they’re nearly impossible to impress, or perhaps even more importantly, surprise. For the most part, crime fans make for great crime writers, but even if you’re not an expert in infractions and evils, these tips can help your story take shape easily and effectively.
For humanity’s sake, it’s fair to hope that your readers are never in some of the situations your book will describe. However, in order to keep your audience engaged and involved in the story, it is important to make circumstances somehow relatable. Scenic descriptions and conjuring up emotions are the easiest ways to do this and should aim to transport the reader to a time, place, or feeling that speaks to them. And remember the golden rule of writing: Show, don’t tell.
Twist the tale
A good crime story will have a good twist and should never turn out quite the way you expected. Predictability can leave the reader feeling a bit disappointed. One method for changing things up is to pause at the end of each chapter and write out two or three ways that you would predict the story panning out. Abandon all of those ideas and write something completely different. If you can’t immediately foresee your fiction, neither can the person reading it.
Do your research AFTER writing
There are numerous quirks and loopholes in legalities and these can make for a great unexpected outcome along the way. There are also some fairly frightening things that can happen with bodies, disease, and physical contact that you’ve likely not thought of or experienced before. However, getting caught up in too much research into the weirdest and wackiest ways to die, to rob, or to bypass the law may hinder your creativity more than it nurtures it, so by all means learn the basics before your first draft, but save the complexities until afterward. Your first draft will always be amended, chopped, and changed anyway!
Make your characters complex – and balanced
Your villain should be as complex as your protagonist, and both should be detailed and interesting individuals. Draw up a back story for everyone and be sure to add in some quirks around each character, too. Who knows whose secrets? Who thinks they know someone’s secrets? Whose secrets stay secret? It all adds up and gels together to create layers. Characters don’t need to be 100% good or 100% bad. Keep them human, flawed, and with a few idiosyncrasies to make them genuine.
Crime fiction needs to keep readers turning pages and guessing. There’s no doubt that you’ll have a lot of discarded drafts, changed complexities, and amended appearances along the way. Embrace the challenge and run with it – it’ll all be worth it in the end!