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How do I Become a Crime Writer?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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Crime fiction is a novel or short story that typically revolves around a murder that the main character ends up solving. Since the typical template or pattern of these stories is that the killer isn't revealed until the story's end, crime fiction is also called mystery or, in slang terms, a "who dunnit." If you hope to become a crime writer, your dreams have a good chance of becoming reality if you take time to learn the genre and write every day. The other step you should take is to read all the crime short stories and novels you can. If you're not passionate about the crime-mystery genre, it's best not to become a crime writer, but rather to write in the subject area that interests you most.

If you're interested in crime, but would rather become a true-crime author, you'll need to have excellent research and interview skills. Collecting newspaper clippings, court transcripts and information about the murder or other criminal case will give you material on which to base your book. You'll need to interview people as close to the victim as possible; many crime victim's families are more than willing to give information to true-crime authors.

To help you in organizing your true-crime book, read the works of top authors in the field such as Ann Rule and Vincent Bugliosi. You should still strive for your own distinct style. When you approach an agent or publisher, you'll want to have something unique to offer. If you want to become a crime writer in the the true-crime genre, you'll have to present accurate, compelling text on a true event in your own reader-friendly style.

The main challenge in writing crime fiction is to dispense clues to the reader at the same time as your main character, or protagonist, without allowing the mystery to be solved by either until you want it to be. This quality is crucial if you want to become a crime writer of page-turning fiction stories. You should read many different works of crime fiction while analyzing how the authors create suspense and build clues. Keeping notes about what you think works and what doesn't in detective fiction techniques, while writing your own original material every day, can help you become a crime writer with an appealing style.

To get your crime fiction or true-crime published, you have three basic options. You could choose to get an agent that deals in the crime genre and has connections to publishing houses. Alternatively, you could approach crime publishers yourself by researching the best ones for your work; find out how they want to be queried, or approached with new works, and be sure to follow each guideline. The third option is to research self-publishing options; remember you may have to promote your self-published book yourself. Whatever publishing choice you make, you must start writing your second book right after the first if you want to become a crime writer with longevity in the genre.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Scrbblchick — On Feb 10, 2014

I'd say one of the best training grounds for an aspiring crime writer is to be the police beat writer for a local newspaper. That will provide experience nothing else can give, short of attending law school.

A police beat reporter sees all kinds of people and reports on all kinds of crimes. He or she may also report on the cases when and if they go to trial. Being inside a courtroom and seeing what the jury sees, and hearing how the judges and attorneys conduct the trial, is invaluable experience for giving one's work the ring of authenticity. It can also help a writer sharpen and improve his or her basic writing skills.

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