Monday 26 December 2022

The Trials Of A Crime Writer: Finding The Right Crime


I've been reading crime novels since I was a little kid. I don't mean adult crime, but what passed for children's and young adult before they were really a proper category. I grew up with a mum who liked listening to audiobooks and loved reading crime novels. She was the reason I got into some of the authors that I did, and I'll be honest, she ignited this love of crime in me, and no I don't mean that I was a little tearaway that wanted to commit crimes of any kind!

When I sat down to pen the words of my d├ębut, Blackout, I had some idea of what genre it would be, but also at nineteen, I didn't really know enough about genres to be sure of where it would fall. I knew it was crime somewhat, but not in the true genre specific tropes. It was actually more a thriller, and I loved writing it. I loved finding the twists I could use and the way it all came together was perfect for me. It had all the hallmarks of stories I love, teens, medical issues, betrayal, weirdness, and finally a nice twist and showdown with a killer. I won't give spoilers, even though the book has been out for over a decade now (almost two in fact) but I will say that it always has a special place in my heart because it opened up the door for me to branch out into proper crime stories as well as other genres and the like.

Now, over twenty years later, I sit down and plan out books and always try and have the crime match the story. A book I'm working on right now is pure crime and mystery, and I'm loving getting to tell the story and weave things into the plot that make it all the more hard for the characters, and the reader, to guess where things are going to go. This book will be the first in a new series for me, and I've already worked out what the second book's crime will be, and I'm excited to be back in the saddle and dealing with these kinds of sceneries.

That said, there is something about trying to find the right crime for that story. If you're trying to go for light hearted, there's really no point in throwing in a dead body here and there. If you want something dark and dismal, then talking about someone stealing a backpack isn't going to work, unless said backpack holds something very very important. You have to match the crime to the story and the plot, and the feel of what you want to have at the end of it all.

Crime novels are generally classed as dark fiction, but they don't have to be. You can always slip in a crime/mystery sub-plot into a light hearted genre and you don't have to go with nitty, gritty crime to be able to do so. I love thinking up crimes when it comes to the books I write. You know that I love the job I do, and working with the stories I do, and you also know that I have penned a lot of drafts, and now have twenty books out, all of which have some semblance of a mystery sub-plot, even if it might not be obvious from the chosen genre. It's in my blood to write crime and mystery and when I got the ideas for my two newest projects, I loved that I was going to back to where I started with one, and focusing solely on the crime plot rather than anything else.

Part of being a crime writer is knowing what to put where and when. You need to know your characters, your setting, you need to know whether things are going and where they will make sense to happen. I say that as if I'm no ardent planner and I'm really not, but you need to be aware, even if it's only in your head, of where you're heading so that you hit the right beats on the way through your draft. Yes, everything can be fixed in revisions, but sometimes it becomes such a headache that you lose interest, and this can be avoided by having some clues as to where you need to go and end up.

Overall, choosing the right crime is half the fun, and I wish you the best of luck in doing so!

Any questions? Lemme know in the comments!

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