What makes a good crime novel?

Ask this question of crime fiction fans and you'll get varied answers. Some like the gritty gruesome, others prefer cozy comfortable. Some enjoy a literary style crime novel, others a racy, action-packed page turner. Reading about exotic locations turns some readers on whilst others enjoy 'home spun' tales. Then there's historical or contemporary, detective or private eye, male protagonist or female... But all crime fiction fans will agree they want great, believable characters and a cracking good plot. Saying this is easy, writing and delivering it time and time again is more difficult. But then that's the challenge and the enjoyment of writing.

Creating and developing a complex main character that the reader can have empathy with is vitally important. The reader must want to trust the hero or heroine, feel his/her pain and disappointments and root for him/her throughout the novel. And it's not just the main character but the supporting cast, the villains and the walk-on roles that all need characteristics that are believable even if they are eccentric. The cast must be real to the writer and therefore they will be real to the reader.

When I first started writing fiction I wrote from the female character's point of view but often found myself wanting to switch to the male point of view. It wasn't until I started writing Tide of Death and introduced Inspector Andy Horton that I found my 'voice' as they call it in writing parlance. Once I started writing from the male point of view everything began to fall into place. I also found I preferred to write from the single person point of view, which means you follow the story through the eyes of Andy Horton in my marine mystery crime novels and through Adam Greene in my thriller, In Cold Daylight and Alex Albury in In For The Kill.

When people ask me why I write from the male character's point of view I often joke that maybe it's because I’m a closet man. But seriously, I don’t know and I don't think it matters, it's just the way I write and if people enjoy it - great!


Dolly said…
I wrote a whole story of my current WIP from my heroine's point of view. Afterwards found that I liked the subplot of my hero's story better, and rewrote the whole thing as his story, and for this story, his story, his voice is definitely the right one.

I do find myself wondering if male POV is more suited to me, but not sure yet. This post has made me think about it - perhaps I should not be insistent on having female leads just because it seemed like the obvious thing to do as a woman. Hmm...something to ponder over...oh boy, the rewriting ghosts are coming out of the closet
Pauline Rowson said…
I spent a long time writing novels from the female pov without getting them published, and it wasn't until I started Tide of Death and won a writing competition for the first three chapters that I thought bingo! It just felt so natural and the added bonus which I hadn't planned for was that my novels are now bought and well read by both male and female readers. I wouldn't have got the male audience by writing from the female pov alone though would have got them if I used multiple viewpoint which I don't,at present. I use first person male pov in my thrillers and single person male viewpoint in the Andy Horton novels. Good luck with your writing and rewriting.

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