Crime writers share their top tips for new writers

92cc0389-d304-447b-a00a-380abfeff794

Noirwich17-logo-thumb-20012764212-22221.jpg Noirwich Crime Writing Festival

Top writers share their crime writing advice

Top tips for newbie crime writers

Stella Duffy, author of London Lies Beneath

  • Pace is useful, plot is useful, character is useful, STORY is the point. What’s the guts of what you’re trying to say? (nb – you might not know this until after the first draft – then re-work it once you know. And then re-work it again ...)

Laura Wilson, author of The Other Woman

In the words of Samuel Beckett: ‘Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.’

Laura Wilson, crime writer


Imran Mahmood, author of You Don’t Know Me

  • Have a plot
  • Finish that first draft
  • Write every day if you can
  • Think before you write


Karen Maitland, author of The Plague Charmer

  • Let your characters drive the plot, not the other way around.
  • The shadow on the wall is generally more frightening than meeting the murderer face to face, so keep the villain in the shadows for as long as you can.
  • If your story doesn’t seem exciting ask yourself what’s at stake? What do the different characters stand to win or lose, if they succeed or fail. Try raising the stakes rather than the number of murders.

Stav Sherez, author of The Intrusions

Read verything you can, both within the genre, and outside of it. Be aware what's being done by others. Try to do something new and startling.


Mel McGrath, author of Give Me the Child

  • All writing is rewriting
  • Write from the heart
  • Commit to your story


Nick Quantrill, author of The Dead Can’t Talk

  • Finish what you start. You can’t edit a blank page. Make your own luck, don’t wait for it to come to you.


Lone Theils, author of Fatal Crossing

  • Writing is hard work. Editing even worse. The horrible truth is that once you finish editing you cannot stand your own book for a while, because few novels really bear being read 16 times.


Leye Adenle, author of Easy Motion Tourist

  • Write what you like to read.


Felicia Yap, author of Yesterday

  • Be curious and try to keep your curiosity alive. Keep asking new questions about the world you inhabit, about the people who surround you.
  • Travel as widely as you can, embrace new faces and places. Inspiration is often an alchemic response to the unfamiliar and unexpected.
  • Apply the same amount of creativity to the submission process as you would to the writing of your book. Writing is just a tiny part of being creative.