Online course

Writing Crime Fiction: Next Steps - fully booked!

18 weeks

This course is fully booked for the Autumn term. Please email to join the waiting list.

Your next chapter starts here…

  • Take your crime writing to the next level

  • Become the crime writer you want to be!

  • Get 1-2-1 tutor feedback

  • Build on your existing skills

  • Refine your writing routine

  • Access our courses from anywhere in the world.

Join Nicola Upson, CWA Dagger shortlisted author of the Expert in Murder series, for an 18-week in-depth online creative writing course. This intermediate course builds on the expertise acquired at an introductory level and will lead you through the elements of writing a crime fiction novel.

In this course you will read deeply from a wide variety of crime fiction texts, you will take place in a series of live zoom sessions and a 1-1 tutorial, and you will broaden the possibilities of your crime fiction writing. By the end of the course, you will have up to 9,500 words of a crime fiction novel.

Classes are capped at 15 places to ensure a high-quality experience.

What the course covers

Module 1 – Firm Foundations
This module will give you the foundations you’ll need for the rest of the course. You’ll look at your favourite crime novel with analytical eyes, you’ll explore where ideas come from, and you’ll have a go at writing a few different story openings in contrasting styles. For your assignment, you’re asked to submit up to 1,000 words of the opening of a crime story – either your current work in progress or inspired by one of the exercises.

Module 2 – A Sense Of Place
In this module, you will explore the importance of place and the role of setting in crime fiction. You’ll look at iconic crime fiction locations and the way they impacted on the story, you’ll discover the functionality of setting as a writer, and you’ll create a sensory description of setting. For your assignment, you’ll bring all of this together in a 1,500-word crime scene.

Module 3 – Who Do You Think They Are?
This module focuses on writing character. You’ll go out and observe people in the real world, you’ll examine the delicate line between heroes and villains, and explore motive and credibility in crime fiction. Your assignment this week will be to introduce your main character to your reader, bringing together everything you’ve learned from this module.

Module 4 – Finding Your Way
In this module, you’ll look at some of the key techniques of all fiction: plot, point of view, and conflict. You’ll also look at techniques specific to crime fiction, including tension and pace, menace and suspense, and the way you manage time. For your assignment, you’ll pull all these together to write an engaging section of narrative.

Module 5 – How Far Will You Go?
This module tackles the difficult elements of crime fiction: murder, violence, and gore. You will find your comfort zone and explore why you read and write things you might find difficult. You’ll look at different perspectives, you’ll find the body in your narrative and you’ll also look at different types of crime fiction that aren’t centred around death. Rather than an assignment, you’ll submit a piece of work you’ve been struggling with or want feedback on and have a 1-1 tutorial with your tutor.

Module 6 – The Sense of an Ending
This module will be split between the creative aspects of bringing your story to a close, and some practical aspects of making your work as good as it can be and taking the first steps towards publication. You’ll discuss the perfect final chapter, you’ll tie up loose ends, and you’ll read your work aloud as an editing tool. You’ll also submit questions to an agent to find out about the next stage if you’re looking to publish your writing. Your final assignment will be the first draft of an ending of your work.

By the end of the course you will have

  • Written almost 10k words of a crime novel
  • Discover the importance of locations in crime fiction
  • Explored the use of tension and pace
  • Discussed murder and violence in crime fiction
  • Heard from a literary agent
  • Understood the foundations of crime fiction writing.

Writing Crime Fiction: Next Steps course = £945


How to apply

This is an intermediate-level course. To apply, we ask that you submit:

1. A 500-word sample of your work

2. A one-paragraph introduction to yourself.

Email to apply. Please format your email’s subject line: ‘[your name] application for Crime Fiction’. Applications are assessed and places are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. Application deadline Midday GMT Wednesday 7th September.

Committing to an 18-week course is a big decision for any writer. If you have any questions at all please do get in touch at

Designed in partnership with the School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing at UEA


UEA University of East Anglia


Format: How the course works

  • Web-based
    • Our Next Steps Creative Writing Online courses take place entirely over the internet. All you need is a computer and an internet connection.
  • Duration
    • 18 weeks
  • Course format
    • The majority of the course is delivered in text form, making it easy to progress through the course chapter-by-chapter. 
    • Your knowledge will be developed through writing exercises and the analysis of samples of writing.
  • Modules
    • The course is divided into fortnightly modules, each of which introduces an aspect of the craft of writing. 
    • Every two weeks you will submit an assignment to your tutor, who will then respond with constructive feedback and advice. Outside of those assignment deadlines you can progress through the lessons and exercises at your own pace.
  • 1-2-1 feedback
    • You will have 1-2-1 feedback from your tutor and fellow students.
  • Discussions
    • Forum-based student discussions are included throughout the course, providing an opportunity for students to interact with each other and the course tutor. To get the most out of the course, we recommend taking part in as many discussions as possible.

Got questions?

If you have any questions, you can get in touch by emailing Vicki at

C Christina Morillo from PexelsCourse schedule

This course runs for 18 weeks and is split into several modules, which each last two weeks. Modules consist of multiple chapters and your progress is tracked throughout, making it easy to pick up where you left off.

Although a module is open for two weeks, you are not expected to dedicate that entire time to the course! Our online courses are designed to fit around a busy lifestyle and each chapter is conveniently bite-sized so that you can always be making progress. On average we expect most students to spend between 3-5 hours per week on a course (this time will be a mixture of reading, community discussions, exercises and assignments). This will vary from student to student and some modules may be more intensive than others.

Each module includes smaller exercises and a main assignment. How much time you spend on these is flexible and will depend on your own writing style and process.

September 2022  term schedule

  • Module 1: Monday 19th September – Sunday 9th October
  • Zoom session: Tuesday 20th September, 7-8pm
  • Module 2: Monday 10th October – Sunday 30th October
  • Module 3: Monday 31st October – Sunday 20th November
  • Zoom session: Monday 21st November, 7-8pm
  • 1-1 Tutorials: bookable slots w/c Monday 21st November
  • Module 4: Monday 21st November – Sunday 11th December
  • Module 5: Monday 12th December – Sunday 15th January (includes a 2-week break over Christmas)
  • Module 6: Monday 16th January – Sunday 5th February
  • 1-1 Tutorials: bookable slots w/c Monday 13th February

What people think of our courses



“I’ve taken away a much greater confidence in my creative work, an ability to be much more flexible but also decisive with my writing ideas and have learned many new writing techniques and ways of working.”



“I have learned a huge amount on this course. I feel I have leaped ahead in my knowledge of writing and what I am capable of writing at the moment.”



“My output has improved a thousand-fold in both content and quality.”



“The course had a therapeutic effect. I gained a sense of freedom from getting lost in the characterisations and dramas of my stories.”



“The course exceeded my expectations in every aspect with how well-structured it was, the exercises and the feedback. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”

Motivation and focus

Motivation and focus

“Having someone read and feedback on my writing gave me focus and motivation.”

Who is this course for?

This course is ideal for people who have done some training or beginners courses who want to:

  • Take your writing to the next level
  • Build your confidence
  • Develop your writing routine
  • Receive tutor feedback on your writing
  • Discuss your writing with peers

Writing Crime Fiction: Next Steps course = £945


Writing Crime Fiction: Next Steps not the right course for you? Browse our other courses

About the tutors


Nicola Upson

Nicola is a British novelist, known for a series of crime novels featuring a fictional version of Josephine Tey as the heroine and detective.

Listen to our podcast with Nicola in which she discusses writing the ‘Josephine Tey’ series and advice for writing historical crime fiction.

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