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Crime Writing: Character and Dialogue

The course

Get under the skin of the people behind the uniform.

This one-day live online workshop will transform your crime fiction writing as you learn how to create credible characters and authentic dialogue.

Find out what makes a real police officer tick, how they actually communicate, and how they behave in their professional and private lives. You’ll learn how to craft crime fiction that weaves in police procedures seamlessly.

You’ll also be joined by expert guests for a live and interactive Q&A.

This workshop is part of our Crime Writing: Making it Real course series with Police Advisor Graham Bartlett. It runs on UK time, but everything’s hosted in an online classroom accessible 24/7 – so you can join us from anywhere in the world or watch the recordings back.

Graham Bartlett

Meet your course director

Graham Bartlett

As well as being a bestselling crime writer, former detective Graham Bartlett advises over 100 authors and TV makers including Peter James, Mark Billingham, Elly Griffiths, Anthony Horowitz and BBC Studios. He teaches on a number of Masters programmes and has been delivering hugely successful courses for many years.

In partnership with Police Advisor

We work in partnership with experienced police procedural advisor Graham Bartlett and his team of experts who help scores of writers achieve authenticity in their crime fiction, from HBO TV dramas to the genre’s best loved authors.

How it works

We give you the theory in the form of videos, podcasts, written lectures and reading extracts. In the case of our live workshops, this includes a live online seminar.

You put it into practice by completing the writing assignments.

You share your work with the small group of fellow writers and the teaching team.

Your tutor and fellow learners read your work and give professional-style feedback on your submission. Giving feedback notes helps to build your skills as an editor - a critical part of the writing process.

You reflect on the exercises with the group and share what you’ve learned.

You use what you learned from the feedback and discussions to review your work and improve it.

Things to know

This workshop is designed for crime writers of all levels working on all sub-genres. It’s suitable if you:

  • Would like to make the characters and dialogue in your writing more authentic
  • Want to know more about police procedure, behaviours and jargon
  • Would like insight from insider professionals
  • Like experimenting with writing prompts and learning new techniques
  • Enjoy the discipline of deadlines and peer feedback
  • Want to join a friendly and supportive group of up to 30 learners
  • Can dedicate 10am-4pm (UK time) to participate in the live workshop, or are happy to watch back the recordings afterwards.

This workshop allows you to:

  • Understand how the police communicate, the different roles and how they work together
  • Become familiar with who’s who at the police station and how they behave 
  • Learn about different jargon and acronyms 
  • Know the standards and discipline expected of officers
  • Learn what’s realistic in terms of conversations and humour
  • Find out how to convey the true DNA of an officer 
  • Get familiar with police station settings
  • Write more accurate and effective dialogue that adds authenticity to your writing 
  • Develop the professional skills writers require (eg discipline, attention to detail, ability to work to deadlines)
  • Increase your professionalism in working with others
  • Practise giving effective feedback to other writers and receiving critical notes
  • Build greater independence, autonomy and critical judgment as you work on a final assignment.

Each course is divided into sessions. These sessions are released one by one (weekly or fortnightly, depending on the course). 

There’s no need to log on at a set time. You can work through the learning materials whenever suits you, day or night, wherever you are in the world. Just complete the assignments and join forum discussions by the session deadline. 

Our teaching method is based on the science of active learning: you read/listen/watch, try out, share and reflect. It’s a social experience – you become part of a small group, feeding back on each other’s writing to build a supportive bunch of readers you trust. Find out more here.

Session 1: Morning session on Zoom –

  • 10am Introductions and icebreaker exercise
  • 10.30am Graham introduces the day’s themes, with practical interactive exercises throughout
  • Learn how the different roles and career paths develop
  • Find out who’s there at the police station and who’s in charge
  • Understand how the police communicate and work together
  • Learn all about jargon, acronyms, as well as the standards and discipline 
  • Discover what makes up the DNA of a police officer
  • 12.45pm Forensics Q&A
  • 1pm Lunch

Session 2: Afternoon session on Zoom –

  • 2pm Writing exercise brief and Q&A
  • 2.15pm Writing time
  • 3.15pm Q&A – turning fact into fiction
  • 4pm Close.

After the course ends, you can continue to chat and share work with your group on our forums. We’ll also upload recordings of the Zoom sessions for you to watch back. Graham will give individual feedback on your writing and answer queries in our online classroom during the week following the session.

Join our alumni community 

After your course, you can join our online alumni community – a friendly group of writers supporting each other as they continue to explore and develop their writing. There’s no cost for this. It’s easy to access via the online classroom, where you can:

  • Revisit all your course materials, including tutor notes, feedback, videos, podcasts and forum posts
  • Rejoin your classmates, and continue working together in a private space
  • Meet alumni from other courses to find beta-readers and share work on our critiquing forum
  • Network with other writers working in your genre or area of interest
  • Take part in regular ‘sit and write’ Zoom sessions, to push forward with your work-in progress
  • Join our monthly live alumni events with our expert tutors and industry guests, including agents, editors, publishers, competition and festival organisers, and prizewinning writers

Feedback on your work

At the end of the course Graham will give feedback on the procedural aspect of your final submission. If you would like more detailed or ongoing feedback on your work or consultancy for an extra fee, please email [email protected] for details.

The team

Meet your course team

Graham Bartlett

Graham Bartlett

Police Advisor

As well as being a bestselling crime writer, former detective Graham Bartlett advises over 100 authors and TV makers including Peter James, Mark Billingham, Elly Griffiths, Anthony Horowitz and BBC Studios. He teaches on a number of Masters programmes and has been delivering hugely successful courses for many years.

More about Graham Bartlett

Allison Aylward


Start your journey


Earlybird price


(Including taxes)

The tutor has been a wonderfully astute and I will happily sing his praises to anyone in need of kind but true writing advice. I am so grateful.

Find out about our payment plans and get in touch.

Course Alumni

Meet our writers


Crime Writing: Making it Real alum

So many thanks to Graham, experts Kate and Lesley, and our moderator for a superb course. I've learnt so much, had fun and managed to be pretty productive. And everyone taking the course has been stunning - talented, highly effective and generous. What a pleasure it's been.

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