Our December Young Writers group found five participants grappling with the elements of crime fiction. Following in the footsteps of Arthur Conan-Doyle and Agatha Christie, we set out a framework for them to follow, which would lead to compelling crime fiction.

We devised the workshop at the request of one participant, but everybody present really embraced the theme.

To begin with, we invited our writers to play a quick game of World’s Greatest Expert, the aim of this was to get them thinking. It’s a simple idea – start with the phrase ‘I hear you’re the world’s greatest expert in [subject]…’ and watch them riff on the topic. We had experts on computers, stocks and shares, and tea amongst other things.

A discussion followed about crime fiction and mystery novels that we have enjoyed, then the writers got down to work. We offered them a range of settings, from a theme park to a lighthouse, a bookshop and many places in between. Some even chose to challenge themselves further and set their stories within a different era.

With a setting in mind, it was time to decide what the hook would be. We purposefully set these exercises quite quickly, so that the writers would have a framework for their narratives and begin to enjoy the process.

Our writers based their detectives and villains on a selection of images that we provided, and once these central elements were in place, they seemed to be confident in what we were asking them to do. Some even began developing clues and red herrings long before we introduced that element of the task.

We discussed whether the death of the villain or the sleuth could ever play a role in a satisfying ending, and ultimately decided that as long as it makes sense to the world of the story, anything is possible.

We had planned to ask our writers to construct a blurb for their stories, which they would then share with us. The story development proved so engaging that we ran out of time for that, but we still got the opportunity to hear an outline from each participant.

There were so many stories told on Saturday that I can’t wait to read! One participant said that they’d had their idea for a while, but not had the discipline to sit down and write it.

‘I know it’s one of the hardest genres, so that’s partly why I suggested it.’

We are already looking forward to the first Zoom workshop of 2022, which will take place on the 22nd of January from 10:00am-12:00pm. Information on how to book can be found here.