Crime Writing: Write a Murder Course

The course

Learn to read a crime scene – and write the perfect murder.

This deep-dive interactive course runs over a month. On Day 1 you join police advisor Graham Bartlett at a virtual crime scene. Hour by hour the investigation unfolds, with you at the heart of the story from first 999 call to arrest, making sense of the clues and formulating responses. While gaining authentic procedural knowledge, you complete a series of writing assignments, planning and plotting the perfect murder investigation. Along the way you’ll gather invaluable practical craft techniques that inject more authenticity and drama into all your crime fiction.

Over the four weeks meet our guest CSI Kate Bendelow, to build your behind-the-scenes knowledge, and behavioural analyst Lesley McEvoy, to understand what motivates a killer and how to build the ultimate antagonist. At every stage we’ll look at ways to surprise your reader and get more professional when writing police procedure.

You’ll work in a small group of writers, guided step by step by Graham, who gives detailed feedback on your assignments each week, plus insider insight into crime scene identification, forensics, developing a cast of authentic characters, and writing gripping arrest and interview scenes.

You can enrol as a standalone, or join as part of our Crime Bundle.

Not on UK time? Everything’s hosted in our online classroom accessible 24/7 – so you can join us from anywhere in the world and watch back recordings after the live sessions.

Graham Bartlett

Meet your course director

Graham Bartlett

As well as being a bestselling crime writer, former detective Graham Bartlett advises more than 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 course is designed for people with some writing experience.

It’s suitable if you:

  • Would like to dig deep into the procedural elements to make your crime fiction more authentic
  • Don’t know how the professionals in your novel would really act and react during a homicide investigation
  • Want to check the details of a particular setting, era or plot points
  • Feel stressed by the getting the procedural detail right, and fear it’s hampering the flow of your writing
  • Wish to build drama and pace while keeping the procedure true-to-life
  • Like experimenting with writing prompts and learning new techniques
  • Enjoy the discipline of deadlines and peer feedback
  • Want to join a friendly and supportive small group of learners
  • Can dedicate 5-7 hours per week for the duration of the course.


This course allows you to:

  • Take your potential and practice as a crime novelist to the next level
  • Read a crime scene like a police officer, come up with credible lines of enquiry, and understand the sequence and timeline of a typical investigation
  • Create intriguing protagonists, avoid procedural cliché, build credible drama out of flat and often bureaucratic procedures, and practise craft techniques that keep readers at the centre of the action
  • Become more aware of the process that leads up to the identification, arrest and interview of a suspect, the professionals involved, and how they work together
  • Bring greater judgment in the selection, development and realisation of ideas
  • Further develop the professional skills writers require (eg discipline, attention to detail, ability to work to deadlines)
  • 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.

The course is divided into weekly sessions, and each week there’s a new ‘drop’ of information and assignments on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, echoing the actual timeline of a homicide investigation. 

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.

There are new lesson instalments on Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week.

Session 1: Grasp the Golden Hour – Get to know your group and the crime scene, discuss the difference between authentic crime fiction and reality, and find out whether you’re a naturally deeply procedural crime writer or if policing is more ancillary to your plotting. You’ll enter our Virtual Crime Scene and meet the crime-scene experts, with a briefing between a crime scene investigator and senior investigating officer, and learn about crime-scene management. Writing assignment: outline your lines of enquiry and the characters you’ll write about during the course. Then join a live webchat with Graham and the CSI to discuss your findings.

Session 2: Profile Your Protagonist – Graham fills you in on latest developments from the virtual crime scene, summing up what should have been achieved 24 hours in. Compare real SIOs at a crime scene with fictional protagonists, thinking about what makes a compelling protagonist for a crime story or series. Writing assignment: build a picture of your fictional lead police officer and show them at this point in the investigation, giving insight into their character.

Session 3: Dramatise the Hunt – 36 hours on from the crime, Graham updates you on progress, and what you need to take a fictional investigation story forward in time and action. We’ll look at crafting killers, reading extracts to see how different writers adopt different types of killers. Listen to an expert behavioural analyst on reading character traits from scenes and raising the stakes. We’ll also move on to the interview stage, and ways to using interview scenes to build drama. Join a live webchat with Graham and our behavioural analyst on catching suspects, ways to make your antagonists worthy adversaries, limitations on the police – and how to get round them.

Session 4: Quiet Writing Time – Using what you’ve learned over the past few weeks, you’ll write and edit 2,000 words featuring your police officer, suspect and the investigation ready to upload by the end of the course. Or work on a 2,000 piece from a work in progress. Graham offers tips and guidance as you write, and we encourage you to read and respond to your peers’ developing stories.

At the end of the course, Graham will provide one-to-one feedback on your final assignment.

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.

Taking things further
If you’d like to continue on to another Professional Writing Academy course, please get in touch for more 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 more than 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

Start your journey


Earlybird price


(Including taxes)

I loved the course and honestly feel it offered more than (just!) the insights into police procedure, which I didn’t expect. The characterisation aspects continues to be genuinely helpful and it’s improved my work a lot, so I’m most grateful. And the forensic element was even more fun then I hoped. I’ve designed training courses and university modules, so I can appreciate a well-designed course when I see one, and this handled so much information brilliantly. I’m looking out for more to do this year!

Find out about our payment plans and get in touch.

Course Alumni

Meet our writers

Mike Lisle-Williams

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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