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Digital Subscriptions > Writing Magazine > April 2016 > CRIME UNMASKED


Think you haven’t written a crime novel? Take a closer look, suggests Claire McGowan

Are you writing a crime novel? Are you absolutely sure about this? You might be surprised by the truth.

Often, when I’m teaching workshops, I’ll suggest to a student that their novel idea could work well as crime. This may cause surprise, worry, and even, yes, disdain. I’ll admit it – I had a similar reaction when I sold my first novel, The Fall. Being slightly clueless about the genre, I thought I had written women’s fiction, which happened to have a murder in it. I do believe there are many women’s fiction elements in that book, but what I didn’t realise was that in today’s market it’s very common for books to be sold as crime when they definitely didn’t start out that way. Especially if, like mine, the entire plot centres around a murder (I really was clueless). Why is that? Put bluntly, it’s because crime sells. There’s a huge readership out there, so publishers like to tap into it where they can. If you take a look in a bookshop, you’ll notice how many covers are starting to resemble those of crime fiction, even when they’re not.

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FREE 2016 Competition supplement: Win £400,388 in over 250 writing competitions • The bigger prize: Why comps are good for you , win or lose • Beat the Brontës: Explore Charlotte's style and try your hand in our special competition • How to: Craft credible historical fiction Use humour in your writing Learn from the short story masters • Star interview with TV scriptwriter Sally Wainwright, Bafta-winning author of Happy Valley

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