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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Genre Niche Needed

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“Finding Your Niche in a Christian Genre

In both Christian and secular publishing there are different genres. Whether you are an experienced or novice Christian writer, your story will integrate within a particular genre. Therefore, every writer must ask, what is my writing niche and where does it fall in the realms of the various genres?

Your book will be classified under a specific type of category — or genre. A niche takes what you do — your uniqueness, insight, or experience — on a topic one step further, differentiating your writing from other authors within your genre. The journey towards discovering your niche may lead your writing through various avenues but the end result will prove rewarding for you and your writing. Begin by evaluating your own experiences and interests. Then, look inward to evaluate the following writing opportunities:

  • My Writing Life: What do I want to write? Is there a common theme among my writing topics? Do I hold special knowledge or insight into a particular topic? Do I have to/need to write?
  • Nonfiction vs. Fiction: Do I prefer the exploration of ideas or specific facts? Would I rather tell stories or research facts? Am I led by imagination or do I need structure and organization? Do I prefer to create my own truth through my story and characters or present the truth from interviews and studies?
  • Audience: What targeted age group am I most comfortable with? Am I motivated to inspire or to teach? Where do I envision my book in a bookstore? Who do I envision reading an excerpt from my book to?

Defining your niche begins with knowing you. Understand your own writing and style while exploring what it is that makes you different from other Christian writers within your same genre. Recognize the unique positioning in which you can hold an exclusive advantage to. Here is where you will discover your writing voice — your story and your niche.

Once your niche has been defined, study it. Read the works of other writers in your genre and examine the similarities. Your comparison will help you lay out the varying elements of Christian-based works and better understand your position as an author.

Focus your efforts towards enhancing the niche in your book and your writing. Develop your marketing and branding strategy around your niche and create a forte to your writing. Your author blog can supplement your work with active postings regarding your book’s content, helping you to further your own insight into the topics through research.

Writing within a niche allows you to meet the needs of or appeal to a certain segment of readers. As your targeted niche audience grows, your writing profession transforms from writer to niche writer to expert, and, here is where readers, Christians and the Christian publishing industry turns to you for an outlook and inspiration.”

For more tips on writing from Westbow Press, click HERE.

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Genre? GENRE?! Don’t panic.

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“The most obvious way to pick a genre is to write what you like to read. If you mostly read romance, then write romance. Most of us read in several genres, and that can make it tricky though. Do you choose the one that seems the most marketable? The one you think is the most fun? Flip a coin?

This is ultimately a personal choice, but there are a few techniques that can help you choose:

  • Make a pros and cons list. The classic decision-making tool. Write down the good and bad reasons to write in each genre and see how it shakes out.
  • Go with your gut. After thinking about your options for a while, sit quietly for a while and listen to your intuition. Forget about marketing, or what your friends will think, what does your heart tell you to write?
  • Pick the most marketable genre. This is tricky since it’s almost impossible to guess where the market is going. That said, you may be choosing between writing in a super-niche, micro-market, and something more mainstream. If you truly feel that they are equally-weighted in every other way, then maybe go with the one you think you can sell.

As you examine potential genres pay attention to the ones that attract you, but scare you at the same time. If you’re excited to write in a certain area, but afraid that you won’t be able to do it, then seriously consider choosing that genre. Often what you fear doing is what you need most to grow as an artist.”

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