Whether you’re new to crime writing or ready to kickstart your next whodunnit, this five-week online course will equip you with the tools you need to create convincing characters and write the perfect crime.
You’ll work in a small group of dedicated writers with an expert tutor and guest appearances from acclaimed crime writers. We’ll explore different types of crime writing, from cosy crime to psychological suspense and police procedural to help you understand where your writing fits in this diverse genre, and experiment with different settings, situations, and when to reveal the mystery.
By the end of the course, you’ll have written a page-turning crime story that will keep your readers wanting more.
We partner with writing development agency New Writing North to help develop creative writing talent in the North of England with programmes to inspire and engage writers and readers.
New Writing North are offering 10 discounted bursary places, on this course across 2024 as part of the North of Tyne Cultural Skills Programme.
If you are based in the North of Tyne, access more information on the bursary here.
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 who have some writing experience and want to explore writing crime fiction.
It’s suitable if you:
Love reading crime fiction and would like to have a go at writing
Are a crime writer looking to hone your craft
Write other genres and would like to experiment with crime or thrillers
Would like to add more suspense and pace to your writing
Enjoy the discipline of deadlines and peer feedback
Can dedicate 5-7 hours per week for the duration of the course
Want to join a friendly and supportive small group of learners.
This course allows you to:
Start exploring a range of creative, practical and critical skills in the crime-fiction genre
Find inspiration for crime stories from everyday situations
Consider the writing process and development of a crime story
Develop a realistic main character profile with goals, flaws and obstacles
Experiment with different settings and environments
Practise creating tension and suspense at the perfect moments
Bring greater judgement in the selection, development and realisation of ideas
Employ greater technical proficiency in your writing
Further 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 judgement 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: What’s the crime?
Delve deeper into crime fiction and its sub-genres to discover what story you want to write and why. You’ll experiment with turning everyday occurrences into crime story ideas and producing the starting point of your story by focusing on the ‘what if’ question.
There will be an introductory group webchat with your tutor in the first week.
Session 2: Whose story is it?
Find out who your main characters are and how they find themselves in their situation. What are their goals within the story, will they succeed, or will their own flaws stop them? You’ll learn what makes convincing characters and which POV will give your story its edge.
Session 3: Where will it be set?
Bring your story world to life by experimenting with different settings and practising different techniques such as using senses and creating an atmosphere in your writing. You’ll make use of familiar environments to set a convincing scene.
Live Q&A with a featured crime author from the North of England.
Session 4 : How will it play out?
This session will be spread over two weeks to give you time to write your story. Everything will come together as you combine your crime, character and setting to plot out a story and learn how to create suspense to keep your readers on edge. Using what you’ve learnt over the course, you’ll write and edit a piece of crime fiction (up to 2,000 words). At the end of the course, your tutor will provide feedback on your writing.
If you are a writer based in North of Tyne, you may be eligible for a bursary discount through New Writing North.
This course is open to writers all over the globe. If you are based anywhere else in the world, you can buy the course now.
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 courses 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
Commission a report on your work If you’d like to receive a personalised, detailed report on your final piece of writing from your course tutor, this is available at an extra cost. You’ll receive detailed written feedback assessing your ideas and writing, plus advice on what steps to take next.
Taking things further If you’d like to continue on to another Professional Writing Academy course, please get in touch for more details.
Download our prospectusEnter your email below to download our course prospectus and find out more.
Meet your course team
Marnie Riches is an award-winning author who grew up on a rough Manchester estate. She swapped the spires of nearby Strangeways prison for those of Cambridge University, where she gained a Masters in German & Dutch. Marnie is known for her bestselling ‘Manc noir’ series and as Maggie Campbell for historical fiction about post-war Manchester (Orion). Marnie set up the inaugural Commonword/Puffin/RCW Diversity in Children’s Fiction prize.