Crime fiction, as a genre, can be explained as a story in which crime is central to the plot. Both crime fiction and true crime genres share this element.
Elements of crime fiction – The Protagonist
Other key elements include a detective, the killer, or a victim of the crime as the protagonist. But, typically, in crime fiction, the story is centered around a detective. Think Columbo, Sherlock Holmes, Poirot, Miss Marple, Kojak, Magnum, and the list goes on where popular detectives return again and again to solve crimes. Still, where there aren’t more books or television shows planned to showcase a detective, the protagonist can be a suspect or other character. Even TV shows like You make it clear the protagonist can be the killer. So have fun with it.
Elements of crime fiction – The Suspects
Suspects are an essential element when writing crime fiction. Creating interesting characters who keep the audience guessing is a great way to build a crime story while keeping the reader’s interest. Suspects can range from a family member to a friend or business partner, a spouse, or even a complete stranger. How you build your suspects is an important part of building the mystery.
Elements of crime fiction – The Antagonist
The adversary is obviously an important aspect of writing your crime fiction. Villains can be as likable as the hero. Muddying the waters is a perfect place to start building your mystery. Why make it obvious who is who? That’s the joy of the whodunit. Make it difficult to crack the mystery behind whodunit.
Elements of crime fiction – The Setting
Choosing a real location and researching the area makes a crime fiction story ring a little truer. Using real places feels more intense and helps drive the story. Street names and locals within a city give readers a sense of connecting with the story and the characters in your crime fiction.
Elements of crime fiction – The Crime
There is a multitude of crimes that you can build your crime fiction around, but let’s be honest, murder is the number one crime fiction being written and read and watched on TV and in movies. Nothing is more shocking than murder. The Golden Rule is your best bet at creating a crime fiction story your audience will find themselves glued to.
In the end, we all want to solve the crime. We want to know whodunit and whydunit. We’re driven to understand the psychology behind the killing and who made that choice to kill.
In my latest crime fiction novel – Killing Karma, my crime is murder. A serial killer is murdering people in Detroit for no obvious reason. With little to go on, Detective Harlow soon finds himself teetering on the edge of what he perceives as reality.