Choosing the Right Crime
As a crime writer, one of the biggest and often hardest decisions to make is quite simply choosing the crime. We need a crime which has consequences in the near future if the criminals are not caught. Serial killers claiming another victim, kidnappers killing after the ransom goes unpaid, terrorist bombs going off or even a stolen wedding ring not being returned to the bride / groom in time for the wedding.
The police or detective solving the crime must have a deadline to increase tension. The greater the consequences then the greater the tension and drama created.
Serial killers have been done so often there is little new ground to break unless you have a massively innovative idea. (If this idea involves vampires, ghosts or any other supernatural being then sadly it’s not innovative anymore.)
Of course there are terrorist plots, but they can mean a whole different style of novel than the author intended writing. Historical finds or time slip novels are great too but they more than any other style need the author to show a massive amount of information to the reader without slowing the pace down.
Kidnapping is a crime with its own built in timeline and consequences which is great, but again kidnapping has been done so often that there are few new angles to explore. Murder is fine for a whodunit, but if there is only one murder then there are no consequences to worry about and pace is replaced by a drilled down police procedural.
High concept robbery is always good for a police procedural with the whodunit element thrown in. If plans for further robberies are found then you also have a plot driver as consequences have been introduced. Although I’d prefer the detective to “have” to solve this kind crime to save his job / get paid so he can pay his mortgage and prevent his wife from leaving as I care more about characters than corporations.
Intercepting drugs shipments / human trafficking rings and so on are always fertile ground for writers as they have built in consequences and deadlines. Sex crimes tend to fall into the same bracket as serial killers, as they also have repeat offenders who escalate their spree and they generally kill their victims to cover their tracks.
Missing jewellery and lost pets are not on my reading or writing radar so I will pass no comment other than “get that fucking cat off my radar.”
So folks, what crimes do you choose to read and write?
Morgen: I’ve written a few crime short stories and three crime novels so far and they’re all fairly different although I think I have all the above, other than missing jewellery and lost pets… so far. 🙂 Thank you, Graham!
Graham Smith is married with a young son. A time served joiner he has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. For the last eleven years he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.
An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well respected review site Crimesquad.com for over three years.
He has three collections of short stories available as Kindle downloads and has featured in anthologies such as True Brit Grit and Action: Pulse Pounding Tales as well as appearing on several popular ezines.
You can find Graham via…
- Twitter – @GrahamSmith1972
- Facebook – facebook.com/Grahamsmithauthor
- Blog – grahamsmithwriter.blogspot.com
- Amazon Author Pages – amazon.co.uk/Graham-Smith/e/B006FTIBBU and amazon.com/Graham-Smith/e/B006FTIBBU
- Goodreads – goodreads.com/grahamsmith
And his books via…
- Gutshots: Ten Blows to the Abdomen – amazon.co.uk/Gutshots-Ten-Blows-Abdomen-ebook/dp/B0089YIOJS and amazon.com/Gutshots-Ten-Blows-Abdomen-ebook/dp/B0089YIOJS
- Harry Charters Chronicles – amazon.co.uk/Harry-Charters-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B007712QB6 and amazon.com/Harry-Charters-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B007712QB6
- Eleven The Hardest Way – amazon.co.uk/Eleven-The-Hardest-Way-ebook/dp/B00771BMJ8 and amazon.com/Eleven-The-Hardest-Way-ebook/dp/B00771BMJ8
- Off the Record 2: At the Movies – amazon.co.uk/Off-Record-Movies-Charity-Anthology/dp/1291093672
- True Brit Grit – amazon.co.uk/True-Brit-Grit-Anthology-ebook/dp/B007Y0FBNU
- Action: Pulse Pounding Tales – amazon.co.uk/Action-Pulse-Pounding-Tales-ebook/dp/B008082QP6
- Flashy Shorts – amazon.co.uk/Flashy-Shorts-ebook/dp/B008QQM4IQ
Graham is also running ‘Crime and Publishment’, a fantastic weekend of crime writing courses (I can say that because I was at the first one last March). 2014’s author tutors are Chris Ewan, Zoe Sharp and Michael Malone. Darren Laws of Caffeine Nights will be teaching attendees how to pitch to a publisher and will also be accepting pitches. More information on Crime and Publishment can be found at crimeandpublishment.co.uk and facebook.com/CrimePublishment.
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I welcome items for critique for the online writing groups listed below:
Morgen’s Online Non-Fiction Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Script Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group
We look forward to reading your comments.