Writing Crime Writing Crime Writing Crime

Writing Crime

Plot the perfect crime in our intensive twelve week course with best-selling author Claire McGowan.



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12 weeks
  • Start Date
  • Time
  • Flexible (see Course Schedule)

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£200 / month for 2 months and a £295.00 deposit



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Plot the perfect crime...

Have you ever wanted to write a crime novel, but don’t know where to start? Do you want to learn the techniques to get going, and find the confidence to put your ideas down on paper? In this twelve-week course, you will learn all the important techniques you need to write a successful novel in the crime or thriller genre, as well as gaining help with the important choices you need to make before you start, such as choosing a story, deciding on viewpoint and structure, and building in suspense from page one.

With lectures to live-stream or watch on demand, exercises to complete from home, and reading materials on each topic, you can move through this course at a pace that suits you. There will also be the opportunity to receive direct feedback from the tutor on your work up to three times during the course.

Is this the right course for me?

Over the twelve weeks, you will look at topics including suspense, plotting, story and concept, viewpoint and character, and more. You will also learn how to keep going with your novel after the course ends and how to aim towards eventual publication.

This course is for anyone who’s in the middle of a crime novel and not sure where to go next, or just at the start, or even yet to write a word! If you choose to complete all the exercises in the course, you could come away with your first five to ten thousand words.

    The course is comprised of six sessions and lasts for twelve weeks. Each fortnight-long session will open on a Monday.

Course Programme

Session 1

25 March – 7 April

An Introduction to the Genre...

Session 2

8 April – 21 April


Session 3

22 April – 5 May


See remaining sessions

Course Programme

Writing Crime

Session 1

25 March – 7 April

An Introduction to the Genre

Week 1: Understanding the Crime Genre
Week 2: Crafting a Compelling Story

We start with a lecture introducing the topic of crime fiction and what counts as being in this genre, then move on to story theory with a focus on what concepts make a sellable story.

Zoom session: 19:00 GMT, Wednesday 27 March

Session 2

8 April – 21 April


Week 3: Setting Up Suspense
Week 4: Keep the Pages Turning

We start with a lecture on the topic of suspense, how to bake this in before you even start writing, and how to keep the reader gripped all the way to the end. We look at what suspense is, how it is created using concept and structure as well as in each line, and learn a variety of tricks, tools, and tips to add it to any manuscript. We also look at how suspense can be increased by editing out information.

Zoom session: 19:00 GMT, Wednesday 10 April

Session 3

22 April – 5 May


Week 5: Structuring Your Novel
Week 6: Plotting It Out

Structure and plot are very deeply linked (though not quite the same thing), so we’ll move onto that next, considering factors such as timelines, flashbacks, chronology, multiple viewpoints, inserts, and how these can also create suspense as well as setting up twists and reveals.

Zoom session: 19:00 GMT, Wednesday 24 April

Session 4

6 May – 19 May


Week 7: Characters We’ll Love
Week 8: Illustrating Character

Over these two weeks we’ll look at how to create beloved, rounded characters, especially if you want to write series crime fiction. We’ll also look at how to create a cast of characters, working with villains and anti-heroes, and how to reveal character through action. This module will also start to think about the character’s journey and how this connects to plot and structure.

Zoom session: 19:00 GMT, Wednesday 8 May

Session 5

20 May – 2 June


Week 9: Whose Story Is It? Picking a Viewpoint
Week 10: Working With Viewpoint

Viewpoint is a hugely important topic which is intrinsic to questions of structure and suspense. We’ll look at different types of viewpoint, examine the mechanics of this fictive illusion, and explore the concept of psychic distance. You'll learn how to control the flow of information to the reader as well as how decide which characters will get ‘page time’ and carry the narrative. We’ll read extracts from fiction that demonstrate a novel approach to viewpoint, as well as the concept of writing in voice.

Zoom session: 19:00 GMT, Wednesday 22 May

Session 6

3 June – 16 June

Next Steps

Week 11: How to Keep Writing
Week 12: Planning to Get Published

This session will look at how to carry on after the course – getting on with your book, finding motivation, carving out time to work, surviving the difficult middle, and establishing daily habits that let you build up to a whole novel. It’s a module full of practical advice, but also information about how to overcome the blocks that allow us to start things then not finish them, and will equip you with all the tools necessary to cross that finish line.

Your tutor will give feedback on the writing plans and also a section from your works in progress.

Zoom session: 19:00 GMT, Wednesday 5 June



Claire McGowan

Claire McGowan is a writer of crime and literary fiction, and has also published women's fiction as Eva Woods. She was...

More About This Tutor
Claire McGowan

Frequently Asked Questions

What level do I need to be at to take this course?

This course is described as ‘improving’ and its focus is on honing your existing crime fiction skills and adding to your knowledge of the craft. This means you don’t need to have any experience writing a novel – and you don’t need to have started yours yet – but you will need to have an idea (or several ideas) for one you’d like to write.

How much time do I need to commit to this course?

We’d usually recommend setting aside five to seven hours per week for this course. If you have more time to spare for your own writing, that’s a bonus!

Browse the Reading Room

From author interviews and writing tips to creative writing exercises and reading lists, we've got everything you need to get started – and to keep going.

For more information, message us or call 0207 927 3827