Writing Crime Fiction: Making Crime Pay – Janet Laurence

[Second edition reprinted by Aber Publishing in 2011, first published in 2007 by Studymates.]

WritingCrimeFiction Without doubt, crime fiction is popular and commercially successful.  Many enjoy reading it and many harbour ambitions to write it.  If you are starting out, it’s worth taking a look at this guidance from Janet Laurence which covers the necessary basic building blocks from the writing to the selling of your completed manuscript.  Writing Crime Fiction’s chapters include areas such as plotting, settings, characterisation and motivation, dialogue, narrative style, whether or not to use outlines, specialist knowledge, research, pace, opening hooks and denouements.  Carefully, Laurence illustrates her points with examples from her own work and from those of other crime authors, as well as dropping in quotes of guidance and observation from UK names that you will recognise.  She also sets exercises to get the juices flowing.  So if you can’t afford Faber Academy or the new Guardian Masterclasses, fear not.  You can bounce around some ideas using this book and learn a few things along the way.  To her credit, Laurence also makes it very clear that this is a business and any writer with hopes of being published needs to be aware of what that means.

But there’s more.  You can also assess the business by looking at the content of the book from another angle where this book was first published a mere four years ago.  Those names I mentioned are the first key.  Ask yourself where they are today?  Are the big names still big names and if not, why not?  If yes, what is responsible for their career trajectory?  If not, who has replaced them?  What makes success and what makes enduring success?  Secondly, which names were at early stages of their careers and where are they now?  Investigate that also. 

Making the writing pay is more than just the writing, so to get the bigger picture take a look at this book.

Available on Amazon here.

Janet Laurence has written two series of crime novels: the Darina Lisle culinary mysteries and three Canaletto mysteries. She has run a number of writing workshops, including ones for the Arvon Foundation and the Cheltenham Spring Festival. She has also been a Visiting Fellow/Writer in Residence three times at Jane Franklin Hall College, part of the University of Tasmania.


6 thoughts on “Writing Crime Fiction: Making Crime Pay – Janet Laurence

  1. Debbie

    A book with UK information, rather than US?Might have to check that one out.
    From a research angle, I find working for the police helps – I can always find a policeman to talk to!

  2. Tim

    I’m not sure that being completely accurate is necessary, after all most people don’t have much to do with real life crime.
    There are cases where it might even be counterproductive. For example, in Scotland there is a jury of 15 in criminal trials. However what do his Ian Rankin’s American or even English readers think when his books refer to a 15 person jury?

  3. Dorte H

    I like the idea of a handbook written by someone who as actually published more than ten books herself!
    I went to a free online course two years ago, and many of us learnt a lot because we gave each other feedback, but the teachers were not very inspiring. A couple of us whispered in the corners that that was because they had NOT had much commercial success, meaning they had to make a living by teaching 😉


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