Crime Fiction’s Crucial Elements That Make Up A Good Story

by | Jan 27, 2023 | Crime Fiction, Thriller, Uncategorized | 0 comments

The greatest crime fiction novels live on to this day – Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene and Murder on the Orient Express by the great Agatha Christie. How did these authors make such timeless classics? How is it possible to write such compelling crime fiction novels?

Outstanding crime fiction can be summed up by establishing a crime scene, laying out clues, and finding out what went wrong until the culprit is finally found. The literary devices that make up a crime fiction novel allow readers into an interactive experience that leaves anyone at the edge of their seats. Mystery novels have a particular element of surprise that propels the plot and lets readers into the story’s thrilling world.

The crime fiction genre is one of the fascinating books to write about, and it is an endless playground for a writer. They get to go beyond their comfort zone and relate to each character on, sometimes, a sinister level. Authors also had the opportunity to explore human nature, play mind games with the readers, and create various groups of suspense from all the anticipation buildup.

If you’re into this genre, a good recommendation would be “Ox in the Culvert,” a crime storybook by Gerald Brence. Crime fiction depicts a main character who’s out to solve a crime and is either a legitimate detective or an individual who is good at investigating. The typical structure of crime fiction might be attributed to the mystery’s crime, investigation phase, and resolution. Usually, such revelations are done in extravagant ways where the main detective character describes the clues they picked up, which hints at the mastermind.

The charm of crime fiction and its mass appeal

What about crime fiction makes people invested in the lives of people who transpired in pages? Why do we want to pin clues, one after another, on something we are uncertain of? Are we ready for plot twists and turns that may or may not change the trajectory of the mystery we are reading?

People always had a particular affinity for learning about crime and the events that led to how it happened. The twisted nature of such stories never fails to bring out our inner detectives and discover how things took place. Peeking into a criminal’s psyche and why they did what they did is also something that can pique any reader’s interest. The best part is the satisfaction of putting the puzzle together and revealing the culprit, followed by the most crucial element, which is how it is executed in a way that invokes total shock.

Overall, it’s more complex to describe the mass appeal of crime novels. The distinctive social commentary, the disparity of social and criminal justice, and the penchant for order are evident, no matter how it’s done.

Unraveling the essential elements of crime fiction

Whether you’re a reader or an author, every fiction genre needs a proper structure to help build the climax and reach a decisive conclusion. Take a look at the elements that make up crime fiction:

A compelling hook – Inviting the readers into the world where the story revolves is not as easy as it sounds. How the author opens the account makes a crime fiction reader interested in following the rabbit hole. There should be enough intriguing information in the first few lines alone. Such elements help the reader illustrate a vivid picture in their head.

An established setting/atmosphere – Crime fiction novels are usually ominous, dark, and unsettling. Those emotions make readers anxious about the thought that a hidden enemy within the story will commit a heinous crime. The following settings are also suitable for planting clues and red herrings, which will be elaborated on later.

The crime scene – The nature of the crime always propels the story to move forward. There needs to be a grotesque scene where a yet-to-be-identified person is deceased. Depending on the author, the crime is unraveled in the first chapter or the subsequent ones later on. It then creates the central conflict, which requires an investigation led by the main character. As soon as the crime scene is revealed, that’s when the story commences.

The lead investigator – The main character is a detective, private investigator, secret agent, or someone close to the deceased victim. The story is typically written from their perspective, narrating everything they see, hear, feel, and do. The leading investigator is often the heart of every crime fiction novel since they’re responsible for solving the mysteries and bringing the criminal to justice.

The criminal – As an instigator of schemes in every crime fiction novel, the criminal is chased, searched, and found out. However, they’re revealed almost at the end, and sometimes, they’re the ones who put themselves to the investigator. Authors often play around with these complex characters that are as sinister as they can get. You might even find a few readers who ironically sympathize with rather than oppress them.

The narrative momentum – The primary goal is to find out who the person is, what happened to them, and who was closely involved with that person up to their untimely death, including how and why they died. You could say that the entire story is a cat-and-mouse game of tag that directs toward the climax and resolution.

Connecting hints & Red herrings – The beauty of crime fiction is the abundance of clues that can either point readers in the right direction or divert them to a symbolic dead end. It’s hard to pull off such a technique in crime fiction writing. After all, how will you jumble up clues that readers depend on to find the truth? Authors must have an organized writing process so they won’t get lost in the story they created, and everything will still make sense.

The ending – Every crime fiction reader looks forward to the big reveal – who the criminal is and how they executed the crime. This is a big moment for the main character since they’ll deduce what happened while the side characters examine if the following clues they picked up match each other. The ending must also provide a solid alibi that fixates on the killer rather than the suspects and eliminate doubts.


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