Detecting Crime Fiction

[found on; by Maria Z/GD]

Sub-genres of  Crime Fiction:

“• Cozy / cosy

o Set in the 1920-1930’s of middle-class England.
o Graphic details of murder scenes are either downplayed or described humourously.
o Popular writers of this subgenre include Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers,
o ‘International cosies’ such as the African Ladies Detective series by Alexander McCall Smith, and the Vish Puri Mysteries by Tarquin Hall.


o ‘Hardboiled’ is most a reference to the detective’s nature of going through perilous situations and emerging the victor while solving a case, in comparison to other ‘half-boiled’ detectives who merely solve cases without facing much risk.
o Also refers to a boiled/tough use of graphic violence and unsentimental sex.
o Popular writers of this subgenre are Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, Walter Mosley, Nicholas Blincoe, Stella Duffy and more.


o Stories revolve around lawyers, their cases and the suspects, leading to courtroom drama.
o It is hard to run from clichés with this subgenre. Being equipped with thorough knowledge of the law may not be enough to write a killer legal crime story.
o Stories are highly-dependent on strong characters.
o Reading works like The Runaway Jury and Street Lawyer by the king of legal crime fiction, John Grisham, is a good way to observe how characters develop.

Police Procedural

o Stories of this subgenre have an inspector or detective who conducts investigations to find the perpetrator.
o These stories have highly-intricate plots supported largely by the connections between the main characters.
o Popular writers of this subgenre include Stephen Booth and Ian Rankin.
o Includes TV shows CSI (also Horror gennre) and many others.


The story is really about how two people (almost always men, often older guy/younger guy or straight guy/slightly off-kilter or comedy guy) relate in stressful situations.

The buddies are usually cops with some sort of secret shameful past, with the crime background keeping it exciting (and sellable).

Mismatched pairs are the norm, ‘about to retire’ another cliche, so try and be original. Perhaps two identical twins, separated at birth, who both sign up to become cops…

 Real life crime

Many ex criminals, some still in jail, have written up their exploits as more or less reliable memoirs. Or writers have produced gripping biograhies. Examples here include the many books about the Kray brothers in London’s East End; Razor Smith’s excellent autobiograhy ‘A few kind words and a loaded gun’.

These are made up but the truth is usually more horrible. Many great novels by Irving Welsh are in this general area, such as Trainspotting (and the sequel); Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs.

So fiction can be used to create false histories and made up real life dramas.

• Drug crime

Can be gangs, individuals, this is a hot topic and very popular, especially with TV and film. Often has a double crossing or three, stolen drugs, fake drugs, prostitution, assassins, international elements. Has to be true-to-life – which is easy as so many non-fiction books.

• Space crime

Another commercial genre, many SF novels have a large crime or whodunit angle, particularly cyberpunk, which is usually about computer hacking, brains, corporate crime, drug subcultures etc.”

For more tips on writing from, click here.

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A Bad Review Can Be Your GOLD

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“A Bad Review Can Be a Learning Experience

Writing a book is a very emotional experience.  A bad review can feel like a personal attack, making you experience anger, hurt or both.  Take a moment (or several days) to work through those feelings.  When you can breathe again, move on.

Resist the urge to casually dismiss a bad review.  Ignoring those hurtful comments might be the best solution for your mindset; however, forgetting what your critics said could seriously hinder your writing.

As you were writing your book, you probably developed a sort of tunnel vision.  Now that the writing process is over, you must remove the blinders.  Find a way to look at the piece objectively and you can turn the bad review into a learning experience.

Sift through all the “I hate this book,” sentiments.  Find the real substance of the review – characters are flat, grammar and punctuation wasn’t perfect.  Take these tips to heart the next time you pick up your pen.  Look for ways to improve your writing.

A Bad Review Can Boost Book Awareness

You’ve heard of the book Fifty Shades of Grey, right?  Why has that particular literary piece drawn your attention?  Because of all the controversy!  People are reading the book just to see what the fuss is about.  Let me tell you, this is the ultimate example of a bad review doing good things for a book.

If you were to go to Amazon right now, you would see Fifty Shades of Grey has received 15,987 reviews.  Of those, nearly 30% are one star reviews!  And guess what, nearly half are 3 stars or less!”

For more tips on writing from BookBaby click HERE.

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Writers Find Accountability

[found on; by  Chuck Sambuchino]

“Looking for an accountability partner? A few tips:

1. Go where other writers go. Join a professional writing organization such as SCBWI. Attend retreats and conferences. Browse book festivals. Hang out at bookstores.

2. Think beyond locally. (Donna and I live twelve hours away from each other in different states.) So, strike up conversations on social media. Join online writing groups. Comment on writing blogs….

3. Don’t get hung up on writing genre. Writers are writers. (Apologies to Donna’s husband, but even porn writers are writers.) It doesn’t matter if you write romance novels and your potential accountability partner writes rhymed picture books. What matters is how each of you approach your work, the time each of you is willing to put into your writing, your openness toward learning, and your willingness to accept criticism.

4. Put the word out that you’re looking for a writing buddy, and like everything else in this business, keep plugging away until you find one.”

For more tips on writing from , click HERE.

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Fantasy? Nah, My Neighborhood

[found on; by Chuck Wendig]


Reality is fantasy’s best friend. We, the audience, and you, the writer, all live in reality. The problems we understand are real problems. Genuine conflicts. True drama. The drama of families, of lost loves, of financial woes. Cruel neighbors and callow bullies and loved ones dead.

This is the nature of write what you know, and the fantasy writer’s version of that is, write what’s real. Which sounds like very bad advice, because last time I checked, none of us were plagued by dragons or sentient fungal cities or old gods come back to haunt us. But that’s not the point — the point is, you use the fantasy to highlight the reality.

The dragon is the callow bully. The lease on your fungal apartment is up and your financial woes puts you in tithe to the old gods who in turn make for very bad neighbors. You grab the core essence of a true problem and swaddle it in the mad glittery ribbons of fantasy — and therein you find glorious new permutations of conflict. Reality expressed in mind-boggling ways. Reach for fantasy. Find the reality.”

For more tips on writing fantasy from Chuck Wendig, click here.

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Fiction — The Highest Autobiography

[found on; by COLSON WHITEHEAD]

“Write what you know. Bellow once said, “Fiction is the higher autobiography.” In other words, fiction is payback for those who have wronged you.

When people read my books “My Gym Teacher Was an Abusive Bully” and “She Called Them Brussels Sprouts: A Survivor’s Tale,” they’re often surprised when I tell them they contain an autobiographical element.

Therein lies the art, I say. How do you make that which is your everyday into the stuff of literature? Listen to your heart. Ask your heart, Is it true? And if it is, let it be. Once the lawyers sign off, you’re good to go.”

For more excellent tips on writing from Colson Whitehead, click here.

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How to: Nonfiction Proposal

[found on; by ]

“How To Write A Non-Fiction Proposal

Most non-fiction books are sold on the basis of a book proposal, often with one or more sample chapters rather than on a completed manuscript. While every agency and editor may have a slightly different opinion on the mechanics of writing a winning non-fiction proposal, most successful proposals have the following elements in common:

  1. Overview
    This is an introduction that summarizes the book’s contents and tells why the book should be published. In essence, this is your main selling statement. Concisely address all that is the most exciting, interesting, introspective and unique about your book. Make it clear that you are the best and most qualified person to write this wonderful and very necessary piece of non-fiction, as well as make a persuasive case for your intended market.
  2. Competition
    Understand and present how your book will fit in the marketplace. Select 4-6 of your major competing titles and compare them to your own. How is your book different and unique? The point here is not to denigrate other works (which may very well be beloved by your audience), but to highlight how your book successfully fills a gap in the market. Be honest but always keep in mind that each component of the proposal is to help you SELL your book, and showing how your project is at the head of the class is an excellent way to do so. It is not advisable to state that your book is “like no other” and decline to cite any comparative titles.
  3. Market
    Who is your intended audience? Who will relate to your book and rush to buy it? In this section, illustrate how the market for this book not only exists, but is a large, robust, book-buying section of the general public. It is unrealistic to make a statement that everyone will buy your book, so be mindful of exactly who your subject will appeal to. If there are any special markets that you can tap through any of your own personal connections this would be the place to mention it. An editor needs to see how your market translates to bottom-line sales.
  4. Biography
    This is your space for telling the editor a little more about yourself, specifically about how your experiences relate to this book. For example, if you are writing a cookbook, you’ll want to tell the editor about your experience working under the tutelage of Jacques Pepin. Be sure to mention your publishing history, if applicable. Keep this section as concise and professional as possible.
  5. Publicity
    If there are built-in publicity opportunities for your project, address them here. Any ideas for marketing or promotions you may have, especially if you have personal connections or direct access to likely prospects, should be mentioned. Make sure you let the editor know if you have any previous publicity experience.
  6. Chapter Outline
    This is one of the most critical sections of your proposal. List each chapter, with chapter title and give a brief description of the material covered. The style in which you deliver the description should be informed by the type of non-fiction book you are selling. A how-to book chapter description would necessarily be quite different from a travel narrative chapter description.
  7. Projected length and date of delivery
    Estimate the number of months you expect to take writing the book from signing to contract until completion. Give either a projected manuscript page length (use the standard of 250 words per page) or word count.
  8. Sample Chapters
    Sample chapters may or may not be necessary if you have written a complete and compelling proposal. If you have a track record of previous publications, you may not need to include sample chapters. If, however, you do elect to write a sample, you should draft the chapter that “puts your best foot forward” so to speak. Write the section that is the most interesting, the most compelling and the one that you feel most passionate about.”

For more tips on writing from Bradford Literary Agency, click here.

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The New Reality of Author Platforms

[found on; by Alan Rinzler]

“It’s still about visibility, but today’s approach has changed. The New Author Platform requires a focus on developing an unobstructed back and forth between authors and their readers, with the authors — not the publishers — controlling the flow.

Now it’s the author, not a publicist, who inspires readers to buy the book. The New Author Platform allows not only well-established authors, but unknown, first-time beginners to do an end run around the conservative gate-keepers and reach readers directly.”

To find out more from Alan Rinzler about author platforms, and how to create your own, click here.

[found on]

Keep Your Story Fresh, Or Be Lost

[found on; by Matthew Dunn]

“Make Sure Your Story is Fresh in 5 Years Time.

If you choose to set your story at a point in history, then your book won’t age for obvious reasons. But, most thriller readers like their stories to be contemporary which on the one hand is great for writers because it doesn’t mean we have to do painful extra research on e.g. what clothes a man would have worn in 1934.

On the other hand, there are pitfalls. Your book can take over a year to be written and edited, many years to get an agent and a publishing deal, and another year or two to become a finished published novel. Want to write a spy novel featuring the rogue state of Iran? If so, you need to be confident that Iran is still a rogue state in at least 5 years’ time.

The Western world applauded the collapse of communism but I guarantee you there were a large number of spy writers who tore up their draft manuscripts in disgust when the USSR fragmented, because their stories were supposed to be contemporary yet featured the Cold War and the Soviet Union.”

For more tips on writing from Matthew Dunn, click here.

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Flashbacks and Foreshadowing

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“Flashbacks and foreshadowing are tools that we can use to add dimension to our writing. Flashbacks give us the ability to see into a character’s past in real time. Foreshadowing drops hints of what may happen in the future. Are either one required in order to tell an effective story? No. However, there are times when they can add depth to our characters or suspense to our plot, and trust me, we can use whatever help we can get.

Flashbacks interrupt the current action of the story to show a scene from the past. As such, we must always weigh the advantages to the disadvantages. Are the benefits we receive worth leaving our characters dangling in time while we go into the past? If so, don’t hesitate to use a flashback. If not, continue with your story line and find other ways, such as exposition, discussion, etc. to entwine the past with the present.

If you choose to use a flashback, you must tip the reader that you are leaving the present. This can be done with a transition statement such as, “John remembered the day his father died.” Then, use past perfect (“had”) two or three times to complete the clue that we are entering real time in the past. And you are in the past. Act out your scene with action and dialogue, and when you are finished, clue the reader that you are returning to the present by using past perfect once or twice, and, if necessary, another transition sentence (“But that was then and this was now, and John had to let the past stay in the past.”).”

For more tips from Inspiration For Writers, click here.

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Schedule, Not Afterthought

[found on; by Michael C. Munger]

“Write, then squeeze the other things in. Put your writing ahead of your other work. I happen to be a “morning person,” so I write early in the day. Then I spend the rest of my day teaching, having meetings, or doing paperwork. You may be a “night person” or something in between. Just make sure you get in the habit of reserving your most productive time for writing. Don’t do it as an afterthought or tell yourself you will write when you get a big block of time. Squeeze the other things in; the writing comes first.”

For more writing tips by Michael C. Munger, click here.

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