Get Started: 5 Tips for Crime Writing Beginners

Ok, I confess! I have no idea where to begin to start writing…. aside from furiously typing ‘how to write’ and ‘how to get into crime writing’ into Pinterest and Google of course. I’ve written some common themes that have come out of these searches, including some of my own ‘nuggets’.

How do you keep the cogs turning? Please let me know, I’m going to need all the help I can get!


Start Reading!

You won’t get inspiration, learn new styles or get ideas unless you start reading. Read the subject you want to write, but also read around it. This means crime junkies who want to write their own novel need to start reading up on real crimes, forensics and possibly criminal psychology.

If you’re not sure where to start, get yourself a free account on Goodreads and begin by searching for, and rating, some of the books you’ve read lately. This will start to generate some suggestions of similar authors and genres and will list what your friends are reading too.


Buy a Notebook!

Victor Hugo once said ‘inspiration is everywhere, carry a notebook’. You’d be surprised where an idea pops up; on your lunch break, in a dream, on the loo. And you don’t want to wait until you get home to write it and draw a blank. Alternatively search for a good notebook app like Evernote, but personally I love good old fashioned stationary and some colourful pens.

Refer back to your notebook often. When you write something down, your brain still thinks about and processes that information sub-consciously. You might find you can build upon an idea when you take a break from it.

Some categories I’m currently keeping lists of: Blogs, websites, books to read, theories to read, famous crimes to research, festivals, museums, brainstorm of ideas.


Get Inspired!

Always remember why you have embarked on starting to write a novel. Personally I keep a paper diary and love writing lists, so I keep a list of the reasons I am doing this, to refer to when I have a wobbly moment. If that doesn’t work for you, there are tons of ways to get those creative juices flowing:

  • Search for some top crime, mystery and thriller films and TV shows and set to record
  • Attend a crime writing festival – these exist! (I’m going to CrimeFest in 2017)
  • The same drivers that make you happy get you inspired – clean your room, go for a walk, sing or do some yoga!


Start Writing!

Ugh. I was afraid of this. I’m starting right at the beginning and haven’t written a story probably since age 11. Apparently this is unavoidable, though the good news is just 5 minutes a day can make a huge difference to your style and fluency. Here are a couple of ideas to get you off to a good start:

  • Keep a dream journal
  • Make up back stories for strangers you see on your commute – my friend and I used to play this and you’d be amazed what you come up with
  • Start a writing challenge – if you just type this phrase into Pinterest a ton of stuff will come up. For example, write 25 different sentences that begin with the word ‘Green’.
  • Search for ‘writing prompts’ – these are quick ideas for stories ‘in a nutshell’ that you can flesh out. I recently bought 100 Crime Fiction Writing Prompts for 99p!


Get Researching!

This last tip goes hand in hand with tip number 1: get reading. As I said you should be reading a wide variety of books, but I also mean get researching tips on improving your writing; there are LOADS of blogs out there from established writers, I’ve listed a few to get you started here:


Also consider taking a course. I’m booked onto a FutureLearn course for writing fiction, which is completely FREE. There are lots of similar courses available, and that might just give you the structure you need to start the ball rolling.


If you just want to get writing but want to make money, I’d suggest taking a look at what’s trending and what’s selling. For example, go to Amazon > Books > Best Books of 2015 > Filter on ‘Crime & Thriller’. Are there any patterns of topics being covered in the bestsellers?

You could also start following these tags on Twitter: #amwriting, #WriterWednesday, #writingprompts, #writetip, #fridayreads, #followfriday (or just #ff)


Over to you

I hope this helped a little, let me know if there are any more ideas to add!

Leave me a reply!