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Characters in Crime

Seven deadly writing tips

The Crime Writers of Canada slay us with ways to make your crime and mystery stories killer.

1. Three keys to a believable story
"You want your readers to find your story believable within the terms of its world. That means:

  • Matching plot and setting. The plot of my novel A Deadly Little List wouldn’t take shape until we moved it from big-city Edmonton to small-town Salt Spring Island.
  • Freeing characters from stereotypes. The grieving South Asian grandmother of Sitting Lady Sutra didn’t come alive until she slapped her granddaughter. 
  • Checking your facts! If you refer to yellow-crowned rather than golden-crowned sparrows, as I did, some sharp-eyed reader will notice."

Kay Stewart’s police procedurals A Deadly Little List (co-authored by husband Chris Bullock) and Sitting Lady Sutra feature RCMP Constable Danutia Dranchuk. Stewart has also published short stories, personal essays and writing textbooks. A past president of Crime Writers of Canada, she co-chaired Bloody Words 2011.

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