An Introduction to Crime Writing (Beginner)

Monday 12 February
£ 475.00

Join Julia Crouch for an online creative writing course that will teach you how to write a crime novel.

Want to start writing crime fiction? Got a great crime novel in mind?


Crime fiction is the biggest-selling genre in the UK and this course will help you to incorporate its building blocks into your own writing. Join Julia Crouch for an online creative writing course that will teach you how to write a crime novel. Explore the genre’s themes and appeal; looking at creating credible worlds and characters, developing and structuring story and building page-turning, tension-filled scenes.

This course is ideal for people who have done no formal training or courses who want to learn the basic skills of structuring and writing crime fiction. Build your confidence and a writing routine with the support of your peers and individual feedback from a highly experienced tutor.

Start date

Monday 12 February 2024





12 weeks (please see course schedule below)




By the end of this course you will…


  • Explore what crime fiction consists of and why it is so popular
  • Build a bank of story ideas
  • Understand what sub-genre of crime fiction interests you, and why
  • Explore the structure of crime fiction and how to build a plot
  • Learn the building blocks of good writing
  • Discover how to create believable characters
  • Develop an understanding of point of view
  • Explore the importance of setting
  • Learn about creating suspense.
Online course

Why study with National Centre for Writing?

National Centre for Writing has been supporting writers to develop their craft for over 25 years. Our online tutored courses are developed in partnership with University of East Anglia, home to the prestigious School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing, which boasts award-winning alumni including Kazuo Ishiguro, Ian McEwan and Anne Enright. Our course tutors are all published writers, many of whom have studied or taught at UEA themselves.


While there are many online courses available to you across the world, ours are unique in offering:

  • One-to-one feedback on up to six assignments, directly from your course tutor
  • A tailored learning experience with 15 students maximum
  • Flexibility to progress through the course anywhere, any time
  • Support and structure to develop a writing routine
  • Skills and knowledge to improve the craft of writing
  • Confidence in your ability as a writer
  • Opportunity to join our NCW Alumni, an international network of like-minded writers and translators.

The course was well-prepared and designed and the tutor’s input and feedback was excellent. I was so impressed with this course that I have enrolled for another with you starting this month.

Mary-Jane Harbottle

Course programme

Module one – The Starting Point
What is the appeal of crime fiction? In this module, you will look at some thoughts on this and develop your own point of view in group discussion. On the craft side, you will generate material using news stories, developing a writer’s magpie instinct, and start to use a writing notebook. For your assignment, you’ll showcase the skills you’ve learned to submit up to 500 words for personal feedback.

Module two – The Elements of a Crime Story
In this module, you’ll read short crime fiction stories that showcase some of the important elements of crime fiction, and in group discussion, you’ll identify these. Through exercises, you will start to learn how to use them to approach story structure, and for your assignment, you’ll submit a story about disruption of up to 500 words.

Module three – Endearing Monsters
This module investigates the role of character in crime fiction and the thorny issues around likeable/identifiable characters. The exercises here will be about developing living, breathing characters, and your assignment will ask you to write one scene from three different points of view.

Module four – Genre and Detail
In this module, you will look at the various sub-genres of crime fiction, their identifying characteristics and how these translate into story detail. The exercises in this module are about finding the devil in the detail – from research to sensory detail, to the difference between telling and showing. Your assignment will be the beginning of your final piece of work.

Module five – Crime Story Structure
This module focuses on the plot dynamics of crime fiction. You’ll look at plotting methods and the whole plot/pantser issue. The practical exercises here are about nailing one of the stories you’ve been developing and making a wide range of structural decisions, and your assignment will be the first draft of your 2000-word final assignment.

Module six – Ethics and Edits
This module, will look at some of the ethical issues facing authors of contemporary crime fiction. You will also explore methods to hone your work and make it better. Finally, you will look at critical assessment and the task of self-editing. Your final assignment will be a completed short story of up to 2000 words.

Live sessions

There will be two live sessions for this course, which will take place over Zoom.

Timings for these live sessions will be confirmed shortly.

Julia Crouch

Julia is the author of six internationally published crime novels: Cuckoo, Every Vow You Break, Tarnished, The Long Fall, Her Husband’s Lover and The New Mother. She also writes (and reads, given the opportunity) slightly chilling, off-beat short stories, which have been published in various collections.

Unable to find a sub-genre of crime writing that neatly described her work, she came up with the term Domestic Noir, which is now widely accepted as the label for one of the most popular crime genres today.

Julia has been a Visiting Fellow on the UEA MA Creative Writing Crime Fiction and teaches online for Faber Academy and the National Centre for Writing. She co-runs the Brighton Crime Wave, a bi-monthly crime fiction night.

I enjoyed the way the course was set up. Two weeks is the right length of time for each module; even working full time it was manageable and it encouraged me to be focused and disciplined in writing.

Shona Lowe

How do courses work?

We have partnered with digital learning platform Teachable to host our self-paced courses. The platform is accessible across a range of devices, simple to use, and does not require any specialist equipment.

We want to make sure that you get the most out of our tutored online courses and feel confident that you’re choosing the right course. Each course contains a mixture of teaching content, reading to prompt discussion, writing exercises for you to hone your skills, and group and one-to-one feedback.

Click to read more about how they are structured and what equipment you may need.

Find out more

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If you still have questions, get in touch with the learning team by email [email protected] or phone (+44) 01603 877177 between our working hours of 9am – 5pm BST, Monday to Friday. We’re here to help!

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