Online Course

Start Writing Crime Fiction with Nicola Upson

Monday 23 September
Online
12 weeks
£450

<< Browse all online courses

From the creators of the Noirwich Crime Writing Festival

UEA University of East Anglia

Granta logoSpecial offer: All creative writing online courses include a free 12-week digital subscription to Granta Magazine.

Fully booked!

To join the waiting list for this course, please email learning@nationalcentreforwriting.org.uk

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 Nicola Upson, author of the Josephine Tey books, to 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.

On 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.
  • Learn how to create believable characters
  • Learn how to build stories using details
  • Develop an understanding of point of view
  • Explore the importance of setting
  • Learn about creating suspense

Find out more about crime writing in our articles top tips for gripping readers and six tips for writing crime fiction.

Don’t miss course tutor Nicola Upson talking at the Noirwich Crime Writing Festival:

Designed by the University of East Anglia and the National Centre for Writing.


Course content

The course is divided into six modules. Each module consists of reading and commenting on a short story, exploring an area of crime fiction theory, three short exercises to develop a craft aspect of writing crime fiction and a longer assignment. The assignments develop from the writing exercises and build cumulatively to help you develop a finished project.

The modules are posted fortnightly. Every two weeks you will submit an assignment to your tutor, who will then respond with constructive feedback and advice.

Click here to find out more about how our courses work and whether they’re right for you!

Module One – The Starting Point

What is the appeal of crime fiction? We look at some thoughts on this and develop our own point of view in group discussion. On the craft side, we look at generating material by using news stories, developing a writer’s magpie instinct, and starting to use a notebook.

Assignment One: Generating story ideas

Module Two – The Elements of the Crime Story

Through reading and discussion, we will identify the important elements of crime fiction. Through exercises, we will start to learn how to use them to approach story structure.

Assignment Two: A suspense scene

Module Three – Endearing Monsters

We investigate 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.

Assignment Three: From character to plot

Module Four – Genre and Detail

We look at the various sub-genres of crime fiction, and their identifying characteristics and how these translate into story detail. The exercises in this class are about finding the devil in the detail – from research to sensory detail, to the differences between telling and showing

Assignment Four: A shown sequence

Week Five – Crime Story Structure

This module focuses on the plot dynamics of crime fiction. We look at plotting methods and the whole plotter/pantser issue. The practical exercises here are about nailing one of the stories you have been developing and making a wide range of structural decisions to do with plot, point of view, voice and tense. You will develop a short outline and an elevator pitch for your story.

Assignment Five: A first draft, to be posted to the forum for peer feedback

Module Six – Ethics and Edits

In the theory part of this module, we will be looking at some of the ethical issues facing authors of contemporary crime fiction. The practical element is about exploring methods to hone your work and make it better. We will also look at the area of critical assessment.

Assignment Six: Submit a completed story of 1,500-2,000 words and a critical appraisal (300 words) for your final assessment.


About your tutor

Nicola Upson

Nicola Upson was born in Suffolk and read English at Downing College, Cambridge. She has worked in theatre and as a freelance journalist, and is a regular contributor to a number of radio networks.

Her critically acclaimed crime novels featuring the author and playwright Josephine Tey have been praised as ‘historical crime fiction at its very best’ (Sunday Times) and ‘a masterstroke of literary theft’ (Independent on Sunday). Set in the 1930s, they weave original murder mysteries around a celebration of Tey’s life and work, featuring events which defined those years and bridging the Golden Age and the contemporary. The series debut, An Expert in Murder, was dramatised by BBC Scotland for Radio 4, and praised by PD James as marking ‘the arrival of a new and assured talent’; the latest, Nine Lessons, was a Publisher’s Weekly Best Mystery of 2017 and shortlisted for the 2018 CWA Historical Dagger.

Nicola’s non-fiction works include Mythologies: the Sculpture of Helaine Blumenfeld (Overlook Press). She is the recipient of an Escalator Award from the Arts Council England, and her first standalone novel, Stanley and Elsie, came out earlier this year.

Sorry for the Dead, Nicola’s eighth ‘Josephine Tey’ mystery, will be published by Faber in November. She lives with her partner in Cambridge and Cornwall.

Add to calendar
September 23, 2019 9:00 am September 23, 2019 9:00 am Europe/London Start Writing Crime Fiction with Nicola Upson Writers' Centre Norwich –

<< Browse all online courses From the creators of the Noirwich Crime Writing Festival Special offer: All creative writing online courses include a free 12-week digital subscription to Granta Magazine. Fully booked! To join the waiting list for this course, please email learning@nationalcentreforwriting.org.uk Crime fiction is the biggest-selling genre in the UK and this course will […]

Online Writers Centre Norwich