I would try to write something as Crime-Detective Story. I'm a beginner of this genre and the first obstacle I find is the "idea" of a crime. I mean, I don't know how to model a crime to make it interesting and to make it able to involve readers. Actually, I have a small idea but I have difficulties to make it a not ordinary crime-case. Do you have any advice or technique that can help me in this strange creative process?

  • Questions seeking to start a discussion or asking what to write are off-topic here. Have placed on hold. Nov 24, 2016 at 18:20

2 Answers 2


In my experience of writing crime stories, I've found what works best for me is to have the crime solution the work backwards to the crime. This allows me to make sure all the necessary clues are in place throughout the book to let the reader solve the crime along with the person investigating.

This is also rule one in S.S. Van Dine's 20 rules for writing detective stories, published 1928 http://gaslight.mtroyal.ca/vandine.htm

Personally, I struggle to do it the other way (by starting with the crime) because then it feels to me like I'm forcing the clues to be placed and trying to avoid the dreaded https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deus_ex_machina for the detective to solve it.

  • Thank you for your answer. I feel frustrating also in a bottom-up plot strategy. I mean, I can think a crime but I find difficulties in solving it, through the creationg of clues from the end to the start. I know, this is something concerning creativity ( and probabily I don't have it) but I would find a manner to schedule an algorithm to create and solve cases.
    – Vito
    Nov 22, 2016 at 9:49

I'm actually inclined to think that knowing the solution (i.e. planting clues) before knowing the crime, and knowing the crime before the knowing the solution are both imperfect methods, since neither are really the thing that the reader is interested in.

I strongly suspect that what people like about detective stories isn't so much the answer, or the details of the crime, as it is the relationship between the clues and the answer. People like trying to guess, and they like it even better when they feel like they could have guessed (because it all makes perfect sense, in retrospect), but didn't, because the writer constructed the story so cleverly.

My advice, then, is to first work out the sort of reasoning that the character(s) will use to solve the crime. Think about the sort of logic that detectives use (in stories, at least; though probably in real life too):



Once you have this, you can begin to structure the plot. If C can be concluded from A and B, and F can be concluded from D and E, you just have to make sure F is something that the character's can work out the crime from, and A, B and D are things that they can find out over the course of the story.

I think once you have an approximate structure of this sort in place, filling in your As and Bs and so on is much easier, and the advantage of doing it this way is that the clues can easily be things that the characters are able (or even likely) to find, and don't need to seem too improbable or convenient.

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