Writing a crime novel? Take a trip to Think Forensic

Crime novel help with Think ForensicI want to write a book.

Actually, strike that, what I really want is to finish writing a book!

I read nothing but crime fiction – cosy mysteries, murder mysteries, anything that gets my brain working to try to figure out what is happening before I reach the last few pages. I think you probably knew that already though if you’re reading this blog on my website.

My absolute favourites are the giants of crime/mystery fiction – Peter James, Harlan Coben, Robert Goddard (he’s the master in my opinion) and Lisa Gardner.

They are superstars of the crime fiction world and if they need to research something they’ve got people they can ask!

But what do you do if you want to write a detective novel but you’re not sure how a crime would be investigated. Watching TV’s Line of Duty is all very well but even I know that it doesn’t happen like that in the real world and, whilst it seems a rip-roaring story can get away with bending reality out of shape on TV, a novel, particularly a first novel, doesn’t get that sort of forgiveness from its readers.

So this weekend I took myself off to just outside of Huddersfield toThink Forensic the home of Think Forensic for their Authors’ CSI Workshop. I had been full of excitement beforehand but on the drive down and on arrival I was secretly terrified. What had I let myself in for?

As it turns out, it was amazing! It was a half day session and I could have stayed all day to pick the brains of Think Forensic’s experts, Gary, a Scenes of Crime Officer for 20 years, and Sue, a former police officer of 30 years’ service. They know their stuff and skimmed the surface for us would be crime writers, going into a little more depth when we asked.

My fellow would-be writer, Claire, has written her book and is now editing 90,000 words. She’s got her murders in place but she was there to check she’d got the details right.

I’m in the early stages of writing my book and have a murder that needs to be solved from 15 years ago and another one that will be committed when I get to the near end of my story! The beauty of the experience that Gary and Sue possess is that they can tell you what techniques would have been available 15 years ago and what is available now to help my fictional detectives crack the case. Yes, I suppose I could have Googled it but hearing it from the horse’s mouth is so much more reassuring.

I’ve got more writing to do before I can use this newly acquired knowledge but I know once I’ve got to that stage I can get in touch and ask and I’ll get a detailed answer. Not that I want to bog my novel down in technical detail but I don’t want to get it so badly wrong that the first person who picks up my book (hopefully) to read it laughs so loudly that everyone assumes they’re reading a comedy!

The Think Forensic team are planning more Authors’ CSI Workshops, including one that moves on from the basics we covered, and I’ll be there for more fascinating insights.

So for all you fellow budding crime writers out there, there is a place where you can get all the information you need on investigative techniques and I, for one, highly recommend it.

Now all I need to do is actually write and finish my book, complete with a dedication to the Think Forensic team!

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