course

How to write crime fiction: the complete six-week course

Online course

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Always wanted to write a crime novel? Learn from some of the best in the business including Paula Hawkins, Dorothy Koomsom and Andrew Wilson in this structured online course, giving practical and inspirational 'how to' advice to help you write your own work of crime fiction.

From hard-boiled to cosy crime, to high-stakes literary suspense, and every shade in between, crime fiction is an enormously popular genre.  Across six consecutive Friday afternoons, you will be taught the craft of crime writing by some of the most experienced writers and tutors who have made the form their own. Each week will be led by a different tutor enabling you to gain the full range of insights and understanding into the creative and publishing process for this highly popular genre.

You will be guided through plotting and writing suspense fiction (the title of a How To book by Patricia Highsmith) by writer Jill Dawson, whose own novel The Crime Writer takes Highsmith as its protagonist, contemplating murder. You will learn how a writer as popular and enduring as Agatha Christie thrilled her readers, with suggestions for ways to adapt her tricks and techniques, led by biographer and novelist Andrew Wilson, himself the author of several novels featuring Christie as a central character. You will hear how best-seller Dorothy Koomson keeps her readers guessing and how Christobel Kent creates atmosphere and suspense, Jim Kelly does the research for historical crime fiction or how Paula Hawkins, author of the smash-hit The Girl on a Train, writes her best-selling, suspense-filled fiction.  The speakers will cover everything from how they do their research to plotting or characterisation, and of course, how to get an agent. In all cases you will have the very special opportunity to put your questions directly to the writers themselves. You will also be part of an exclusive writing community, able to share ideas with each other via a dedicated class page.

Early booking is advised, places are limited.

About your tutors:

Dorothy Koomson is an award-winning, globally bestselling author whose 17 books have been translated into more than 30 languages. A TV adaptation based on her book, The Ice Cream Girls was shown on ITV1 in 2013. Her podcast, The Happy Author, aims to demystify the publishing industry for writers and readers. After briefly living in Australia, Dorothy now lives in Brighton. Her latest book, I Know What You’ve Done, is published by Headline. 

Paula Hawkins was born and brought up in Zimbabwe, and moved to the UK in 1989. She worked as a journalist for fifteen years before she turned her hand to fiction, writing four romantic comedies under a pseudonym. In 2015, she published her first thriller, The Girl on the Train, which was subsequently made into a film starring Emily Blunt. She has since published two further crime novels: Into the Water (2017) and A Slow Fire Burning (2021). 
 
Andrew Wilson is a novelist, biographer and journalist. He is the author of four novels in a crime series featuring Agatha Christie, all published by Simon & Schuster in the UK and US – A Talent for Murder (2017), A Different Kind of Evil (2018), Death in a Desert Land (2019), and I Saw Him Die (2020). He has written biographies of Patricia Highsmith, Sylvia Plath, Alexander McQueen. He is a creative writing mentor on the Gold Dust scheme, a tutor on the Faber Academy crime writing course, and a judge for this year’s Costa Prize. He also writes psychological suspense under the name E.V. Adamson. 
 
Jill Dawson is the award-winning author of eleven novels, including several which take as their subject true crimes: The Language of Birds tells the story of the nanny murdered in the Lord Lucan household in 1974, and Fred and Edie the case of Edith Thompson, hanged for murder in 1923. Lucky Bunny is the true story of a top woman thief (renamed in the novel Queenie Dove), friend of the Krays and the Great Train Robbers.  In The Crime Writer, she positions Patricia Highsmith as the central character, asking the question: what does it take to commit a murder? She is director of Gold Dust Mentoring which pairs established writers with new ones, and has taught a number of writing courses for The Times and The Sunday Times. 
 
Christobel Kent has written 17 novels, including a six-part detective series set in Florence and featuring Sandro Cellini, and the Sunday Times bestseller, psychological thriller The Loving Husband.  Her novel What We Did was nominated for a Gold Dagger in 2019.  Her latest novel is The Widower. 
 
Jim Kelly is an author and journalist and has written seventeen crime novels. His first series began with The Water Clock, featuring fictional journalist Philip Dryden, based in Cambridge, and he won the Crime Writers Association Dagger in the Library award in 2006 for the Dryden books. In 2010 he won the New Angle prize for literature for Death Watch, the second in the Shaw and Valentine series. His latest book is The Night Raids
 
The course will be accessed via Zoom and you will be encouraged to have your camera on and required to have your microphone on at certain times. Numbers are limited. Recordings of the classes will be available to view afterwards.
 
Course dates: Every Friday, February 11 - March 18, 2.00-4.00pm
Price: £525 - places are limited.
 
To book tickets, click on 'book online' in the information box. Please note, you will need to be logged in to see the booking button.
 
If you have any questions relating to this course, or any others, please email: courses@thetimes.co.uk 
 
Jim Kelly image credit: Jan Malmstrom
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