Crime Writing with Peter Doyle.

Over the weekend I attended a Crime Writing Workshop with award winning crime writer Peter Doyle.  He is the author of four books, including Crooks Like Us and City of Shadows: Sydney Police Photographs 1912-1948.  These books were based on extensive research in the forensic photography archive at the Justice and Police Museum in Sydney.

During the workshop, we got to view actual crime scene photos and were given a writing exercise based on a photograph of our choice.  It was great to hear so many different takes on these pictures, which highlighted the great potential for story ideas.  Peter also suggested another source for photographs included Picture Australia, which is part of the National Library of Australia.

Here is a snippet of my take on one particular photograph that aroused my curiosity:-

He walks into the bedroom, seeing the blood upon the sheets.  Large pools soak into both sides of the double bed as if two bodies had once lain there propped up against the pillows.  The light hanging from above ironically reveals the image of a cherub.  He begins to wonder if this is a simple domestic or something more sinister.

Admittedly, we only had about 15 minutes to write it, but it was fun.  Here are some more helpful tips from Peter on crime writing:-

  • Hook the reader in fast and slowly reel them in.
  • Keep it lean and keep it mean.
  • Remove adjectives – it kills visualisation.
  • Visit places like war memorials and cemeteries to find names – you get to see names you don’t really see anymore.
  • Australians haven’t written much about our own past in regards to everyday criminals and everyday people, so there is plenty of stories out there waiting to be told.

My thanks to Peter Doyle and Central West Libraries for a fun, informative workshop which left us all with plenty of scope for story ideas.

Image copyright Justice and Police Museum, Sydney.

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