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Writing Bestselling True Crime and Suspense :
True-crime writing is at a crossroads. Ever since Truman Capote's In Cold Blood (published in 1966), there has been a market for deeply researched, literary true-crime hardcovers that are usually several years in the making. But because of the proliferation of tabloid television, made-for TV movies, and "insta-books," it is increasingly difficult to whet the appetite of an already saturated readership. This primer on writing true crime, by Tom Byrnes, reflects just that schism: while the book's focus is on the writing of lengthy, novelistic true crime, the editors interviewed lean decidedly toward those books written and published seemingly overnight.
Still, Writing Bestselling True Crime and Suspense is a fine introduction to the genre, with advice strewn throughout from the likes of Ann Rule (The Stranger Beside Me), Harry MacLean (In Broad Daylight), and Jack Olsen (Son: A Psychopath and His Victims). True crime takes a certain type of writer, one willing to face years of research, hundreds of interviews (some with psychopathic murderers), hours of tedious testimony, plenty of hanging around waiting for people to say something interesting, and possible death threats (but, hey, they're usually from people already on death row). And the writing itself is complicated. "No matter how bad the crime was or how bad the criminal was," says author Jaye Fletcher (A Perfect Gentleman), "describing the crime itself only takes four pages. So what do you do with the other four hundred?" If you can figure that out, you'll find, as Byrnes says, that "crime does pay--especially if you are a writer." --Jane Steinberg [via]