Research for Crime Fiction

You know when you have a little idea sitting in the back of your brain that just won’t go away? And it builds up so much detail and energy that it demands to be shared? And then, when you finally say it out loud (or by email), suddenly there’s this rapid dominoes effect and the idea is actually happening, a real thing, out in the world?!

I had one of those last year. I dreamed up a workshop for writers to explore ideas and information to create cracking crime stories. To my surprise and utter delight, the workshop was a hit.

This year, I had another idea to take the workshop in a new direction. I approached the Queensland Police Museum to see if they would host it. After all, what better place to learn about juicy resources for crime writers!

picture of a display from Queensland Police Museum
QPM: crime story ideas

I have just spoken to the curator of the Queensland Police Museum, the awesome Lisa Jones, to organise final details for next Saturday. Lisa has confirmed that for the ‘hands on’ part of my workshop, in addition to our tour of the museum, we will also have a BACKSTAGE PASS to all the good stuff behind the scenes at QPM.

From an overview of crime fiction subgenres and how they set your research agenda, through finding useful resources, to letting your muse loose in a room full of artefacts – there’s nothing like devoting a whole day to thinking, writing, touching, breathing ideas for your stories.

If you’d like to come along and join the fun, you can book online here, or call Queensland Writers Centre on 07 3842 9922.

  • Research for Crime Fiction workshop
  • Saturday 16 June 2012, 10:30am to 4:30pm
  • Info: Any crime fiction author will tell you the secret to compelling crime is in the details. Learn how to access primary and secondary research resources to find great ideas for your crime writing, and to flesh them into gripping stories. Meg Vann will show you how to best locate and engage crime experts for advice, and at what point in your project to consult them. You will explore creative writing techniques and structures to prompts and strengthen your use of research, and develop a research action plan for your own crime story premise.

Lecherer, moi?

It has been a whirlwind year of teaching for this crime fic tragic!

So far, I have devised and conducted a full day workshop on research for crime fiction, including  hands-on session with the heritage collection at the John Oxley Library. I have tutored a four-week course on creative writing at QWC, and am about to tutor a similar course for the AWM Online Learning Centre.. I am also tutoring in the Genre Fiction course at The University of Queensland.

And to top it off, last night I gave a lecture on research for crime fiction to hundreds of students at UQ!

I love working with students of creative writing – everyone has a fresh take to offer, and it is a privilege to walk alongside writers for awhile as they develop skills and confidence.

And of course, my first love is teaching crime fic research and development. I cover the historical development of the genre and its many sub- and sub-sub- and hybrid genres. I share heaps of visual, textual and personal research sources, like the Howdunit series for writers, and the websites for the Australian Federal Police, and the Queensland Police Museum. And I look at research in action, discussing character, context and conflict in excerpts from fantastic writers like Katherine Howell, Leigh Redhead, and Shamini Flint.

Book of Poisons for Writers book cover
Awesome Gruesomes!

A wise friend told me years ago that people usually find success by doing what they are passionate about – I didn’t believe her at the time, because allowing myself to pursue my dreams of crime writing seemed so impossibly unachievable.

So I encourage everyone to dedicate some time this weekend to doing what you love – you never know where it will lead!