The Writer’s Bag of Tricks

Genre and Trope and Stuff

Crime Fiction

This week I’d thought we’d focus on crime fiction. In case you are not familiar, crime fiction is that genre category that fictionalises crime on some level. If you are thinking about writing crime fiction here are some stats to help with your decision. We will discuss techniques on a later post.

Miscellaneous goodies:

  • In 2014 crime fiction sales were just under $728 million
  • Crime fiction equated to about 24% of adult fiction book sales
  • As of July 2015, crime fiction was the most-read genre at a whopping 47%
  • Crime fiction readers are mostly women
  • 53% of female readers had read a crime fiction book within the last year.
  • 39% of male readers had read a crime fiction book within the last year.
  • 28% of crime fiction readers are 65+
  • 19% of crime fiction readers are 55-64 years of age
  • 16% of crime fiction readers are 45-54 years of age
  • 18% of crime fiction readers are 30-44 years of age
  • 14% of crime fiction readers are 18-29 years of age
  • 4% of crime fiction readers are under 18

What makes it crime fiction?

The plot of the story is propelled by a significant crime which motivates the characters. The instigating crimes usually include murder, or stolen objects, or kidnapping. Usually the hero who solves the crime is the protagonist, and usually the hero is a detective or lay detective of some sort. The hero does not have to be likeable (as in romance) but does have to be interesting and intelligent.

The suspects of the crime story create the suspense, and there are usually multiple suspects to create interest. The majority of the suspects will be red herrings (false leads) which are used to misdirect the reader. The criminal should be be equally matched with the protagonist, should be intelligent, and might be sneaky. The criminal must be introduced early in the story.

Crime fiction is generally realistic, with a believable plot.

Crime fiction subgenres include:

  • Mystery
  • Spy/Espionage
  • Thriller/Suspense

More on crime fiction next week.

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