Writing Crime Writing Crime Writing Crime

Writing Crime

Want to write a crime novel? Take that first step on the road to publication with the help of an award-winning crime writer


Starting out

What do these levels mean?




12 weeks
  • Start Date
  • Time
  • Thursdays, 19:00–21:00

Places available



£200 / month for 2 months and a £395.00 deposit


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Learn to craft a killer hook

Crime fiction is now the most popular genre in the world of fiction. This comprehensive course will offer students an opportunity to get to the heart of what you need to know to be writing crime. The course – divided into twelve two-hour sessions – will examine the genre in detail with lessons on character, plot, dialogue, structure, perspective, pace, editing, research, setting and visits from guest writers and experts to give you a clear insight into the steps you have to take to become a published writer.

It will include the opportunity for peer-to-peer feedback on your own work, writing exercises to improve your skills and a close examination of several successful crime novels to help you understand exactly what it takes to produce a best-selling thriller. At the conclusion of the course, the tutor will also provide a critique of the first 5000 words of your novel-in-progress if required.

All students will also leave the course with a working knowledge of the industry and its commercial trends.

Is this the right course for me?

This twelve-week course is designed for students who are already writing and are keen to take their skills to the next level. Beginners ready to throw themselves into their crime novel are also more than welcome. You'll have a specific interest in crime fiction, with some idea or ideas – however rough! – for a novel.


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Trevor Wood

Trevor Wood’s first novel, The Man on the Street, set in his home city of Newcastle, won the Crime Writers’ Association’s John Creasey New Blood Dagger for best debut and the Crimefest...

More About This Tutor
Trevor Wood

    This course takes place on Thursday evenings at The Common Room by Newcastle Station (see below for details), from 19.00 until 21.00.

Course Programme

Session 1

Thursday 26 September, 19:00–21:00

Crime fiction and its core element...

Session 2

3 October, 19:00–21:00

Let's start at the very beginning...

Session 3

10 October, 19:00–21:00


See remaining sessions

Course Programme

Writing Crime

Session 1

Thursday 26 September, 19:00–21:00

Crime fiction and its core elements

How do you define a crime book? Exploring the genres: Police procedural, psychological thriller, domestic noir, cosy, social realism, comic. Where do you fit in? Do you need to fit in?

Suggested reading: The Silent Daughter by Emma Christie

Session 2

3 October, 19:00–21:00

Let's start at the very beginning.

How do you generate story ideas? Then when you've got some, how do you choose which one to write? Will it be the start of a series or a standalone? Does it matter to begin with? Where and how do you start the story? How important are the opening lines/chapters. To prologue or not?

Suggested reading: No Country for Girls by Emma Styles

Session 3

10 October, 19:00–21:00


How to make your crime fiction as authentic as possible. This session covers research techniques including forensics and police procedure.

Former police detective turned crime writer Graham Bartlett will join the class to explain how to make your writing authentic. As a former Brighton Police Commander, Graham is an advisor to many leading crime writers, including Peter James and Elly Griffiths.

Session 4

17 October, 19:00–21:00

Points of view

Whose story is this and how will you tell it? A look at point of view and perspective. How many narrators will you have? Just your main character or will you give others a voice? What difference does it make? What are the drawbacks and benefits of choosing first/second/third-person or even an omniscient narrator? Does it matter whether you use past or present tense and how do you decide which works best?

Suggested reading: Notes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka

Session 5

24 October, 19:00–21:00

The darkest hour comes before the dawn

“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”
― W. Somerset Maugham

How do you write a novel? How important is structure? What are the three acts? What is an inciting incident and where should you put it? Does the midpoint have to be in the middle? And what are story beats? Where should you put your twists? Are there any rules or are they just suggestions? What does all this mean and does any of it matter?

Suggested reading: The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

Session 6

31 October, 19:00–21:00

Getting into characters

How to develop a compelling lead character with the potential to carry a standalone or series. Creating nuanced characters instead of caricatures. Should you develop them organically or know everything about them before you start? Do we need to know what they look like?
The importance of supporting characters. Know your enemies too! How to create a memorable antagonist who stands out from the crowd, Everyone is the hero in their own story!

Suggested reading: Breakers by Doug Johnstone

Session 7

7 November, 19:00–21:00

A man walks in with a gun

How to write a page-turner. The importance of pace and how to create it. Introducing threat, jeopardy and tension. Examining chapter lengths and the links between them. How to deal with back story and avoid exposition. Switching between narrators and time frames.

Suggested reading: The Last Crossing by Brian McGilloway/The Game by Scott Kershaw

Session 8

14 November, 19:00–21:00

Right place, right time

The importance of setting both in time and place. Learn how setting and atmosphere can be as effective as an extra character. Thinking about the physical, political and cultural aspects of setting. Micro-setting - moving a scene to somewhere more interesting can be really effective. A café rather than a home, a library where they have to be quiet. The fear of a deserted meeting place.

Suggested reading: Broken Harbour by Tana French

Session 9

21 November, 19:00–21:00

It's not what you say but…

How to improve your dialogue. Does practice makes perfect? Are your characters verbose or taciturn? How does the age or social class of your characters affect your choice of words? Should you introduce dialect into your work? Slang or perfect English? Is it ok to listen in to other people's conversations?

Suggested reading: A Friend Is A Gift You Give Yourself by William Boyle

Session 10

28 November, 19:00–21:00

'We can fix it in the edit...'

"The road to hell is paved with adverbs" Stephen King

How and when should you edit? Techniques you can use to avoid mistakes, plotholes and inconsistency. Is Stephen King right? And if so, how do you hunt down your adverbs and kill them? Learn some quick fixes! And how to make sure your formatting is industry standard

Suggested reading: On Writing by Stephen King

Session 11

5 December, 19:00–21:00

Guest Author: Ann Cleeves

Ann Cleeves is the author of more than thirty-five critically acclaimed novels, and in 2017 was awarded the highest accolade in crime writing, the CWA Diamond Dagger.

She is the creator of popular detectives Vera Stanhope, Jimmy Perez and Matthew Venn, who can be found on television in ITV’s Vera, BBC One’s Shetland and ITV's The Long Call respectively. The TV series and the books they are based on have become international sensations, capturing the minds of millions worldwide.

The first Shetland novel, Raven Black, won the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger for best crime novel, and Ann was awarded the CWA Diamond Dagger in 2017. She was awarded the OBE in 2022 for services to reading and libraries.

Session 12

12 December, 19:00–21:00

The inside story

Explaining the steps on the journey to publication. The role of agents and editors and publishers and how to find the right one for you. How to write the perfect query/submission letters. The various types of publishing available, independent or mainstream, digital first, self-publishing etc. The role of the acquisitions panel.

Suggested reading: Plot by Jean Hanff Korlitz

I have felt challenged and inspired throughout and I have read more books in three months than I have in the last three years!

Student, 2023

Writing Crime

The course gave us tools and techniques to use in the future and I feel more confident about editing my draft.

Student, 2023

Writing Crime

Trevor was a great tutor who encouraged the group in their own writing and provided strong advice.

Student, 2023

Writing Crime

Trevor's passion for his subject translated in an inspiring way into the lessons and he was knowledgeable, not just about the subject but about the industry - vital to any budding writer.


The Common Room

Neville Hall

Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1SE

About the Common Room

The Common Room is a new charity, formed to lead the restoration of Neville Hall in Newcastle. Their vision is to use their unique heritage to inspire the next generation of innovators and engineers. Through education and engagement activities, they will support the region’s future economic growth and provide a range of public spaces for innovation, collaboration, events, lectures, weddings and more.
We’re delighted to host our Newcastle courses in this historic venue.

Find out more

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.