Writing Crime Fiction

Event information

Where: Online

Date: Online courses starting 15 April and 30 September 2024

Cost: £495 / £198 (bursary places available)

Type: Online Writing Course

Book full price place now

Commit to writing the perfect crime

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.

Duration: 5 weeks 
Skill level: Intermediate
Frequency: Weekly
Sessions: 4

Bursary places for North of Tyne residents

Our funding from North of Tyne Combined Authority allows us to offer 60% off course prices for residents of Newcastle upon Tyne, North Tyneside and Northumberland.

Apply for a bursary place

Vaseem Khan, course tutor (April)

Vaseem Khan is the author of two award-winning crime series set in India, the Baby Ganesh Agency series set in modern Mumbai, and the Malabar House historical crime novels set in 1950s Bombay.

His first book, The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra, was selected by the Sunday Times as one of the 40 best crime novels published 2015-2020, and is translated into 17 languages. The second in the series won the Shamus Award in the US. In 2018, he was awarded the Eastern Eye Arts, Culture and Theatre Award for Literature. In 2021, Midnight at Malabar House won the Crime Writers Association Historical Dagger, the world’s premier award for historical crime fiction.

When he isn’t writing, he works at the Department of Security and Crime Science at University College London. Vaseem was born in England, but spent a decade working in India. Vaseem also co-hosts the popular crime fiction podcast, The Red Hot Chilli Writers. In 2023, Vaseem was elected the first non-white Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association (the CWA), the oldest and largest association of crime writers in the UK.

Vaseem will be the course tutor for the cohort starting on 15 April.


Marnie Riches, course tutor (September)

Marnie Riches grew up on a rough estate in north Manchester. Exchanging the spires of nearby Strangeways prison for those of Cambridge University, she gained a Masters in German & Dutch.

Her best-selling, award-winning George McKenzie crime thrillers, tackling the subject of trans-national trafficking, were inspired by her own time spent in The Netherlands. Marnie is also the author of Born Bad and The Cover-Up – the critically acclaimed books in her Manchester gangland series – as well as Tightrope and Backlash, which feature beleaguered PI, Bev Saunders and computer-whizz sidekick, Doc, who bring to light the criminal misdemeanours of the Northwest’s great and good.

Marnie will be the course tutor for the cohort starting on 30 September.

“The new character I’ve discovered on the course brings an extra dimension that was lacking in my novel. I can’t wait to push on with it now! I’ve really enjoyed the course and found it very productive.”

​- Jo, Course alumni

Full course information

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for beginners or authors who want to explore a new crime story.

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


What will I learn?

This course allows you to:

  • Clearly identify different crime subgenres
  • 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


What are the sessions?

Session 1 – What’s the crime?
Delve deeper into crime fiction and its subgenres 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.

Session 4 – How will it play out?
In this session, 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). This session will be spread over two weeks to give you time to write your story. At the end of the course, your tutor will provide feedback on your writing.

Live Q&A with a featured crime author from the North of England.


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

You will need to put in around 5-7 hours each week. The deadline for posting your final assignment each week is the end of Saturday. The deadline for giving feedback to others is the end of Sunday. Other than that, you can work through the course materials each week at your own pace.

What time will I need to log on?

There’s no need to log in at a set time to take part – sessions open to a timetable and you have until the end of each session to work through the materials in the online classroom.

So you can read the tutor notes and listen to the podcasts, watch the videos, analyse extracts, react to prompts and work through mini-exercises at any time of day or night that’s best for you. You can also contribute to discussions on our forums 24/7, so the online classroom feels like a rich and lively shared experience.

Most people on the course fit learning around their work and caring responsibilities, which is why we teach in this non-synchronous way. It also suits those studying in another language, and offers advantages in terms of accessibility and different learning styles. We ask that you submit your final exercise in each session by the deadline, then read and critique the work of some of your peers.

If there are live Zoom sessions in your course, your moderator will let you know the timing. If you can’t make it, you can send in questions in advance and catch up with the recording afterwards. Past sessions and any recordings remain available throughout the course – and in the alumni area afterwards – so you can revisit any of the learning, revise exercises and chart your progress at any point.

What happens after the course?

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.

Bursary information

If you are a writer based in North of Tyne, you may be eligible for a bursary discount through New Writing North.

You can submit your application through this site.

This course is open to writers all over the globe. If you are based anywhere else in the world, you can buy now here.

How it Works


We give you the theory in the form of videos, podcasts, written lectures and reading extracts.


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.

Review and Improve

You use what you learned from the feedback and discussions to review your work and improve it.