Do You Speak ‘Crime Writer?’

speaking crime writingSo you’ve made friends with a crime writer. Or perhaps you work with one. You may even have chosen a crime writer as your partner. Well, I think that’s wonderful. Crime writers need social circles too, after all. How else are we supposed to be inspired for our next – ahem – adventure? 😉

The thing is, though, that crime writers speak a unique kind of language. If you don’t understand that language, it can be difficult to know what a crime writer really means and respond appropriately. So, ever civic-minded, I’m here to help you. Here is your very own handy

Guide to Speaking ‘Crime Writer’


‘Crime Writer’ Language


‘I’ll be right there.’

‘I’ll be there as soon as I finish this scene. And check out those sites on poisons. And…..’

‘I really ought to do some shopping.’

‘We’re out of chocolate?! How can we be out of chocolate? What?! And coffee too?’

[substitute your snack and beverage of choice]

‘Thanks for telling me that.’

[After someone tells you
how much better s/he’d have
done at writing your book]

‘You will be the victim in my next story. It will not be pretty.’

‘Don’t worry. I’ll make dinner.’

‘Where’s the menu for that Chinese place that delivers?’

‘I write crime fiction.’

‘Please ask about my books. Better yet, buy them.’

‘Oh, let’s stop and check this out.’

‘Oh, this is the perfect place to dump a body!’

‘Sure! It sounds like fun.’

‘There’ll be at least a few people there who would make great suspects.’

‘Wow! That building is cool!’

‘I wonder how hard it’d be to push someone off it.’

‘Mind if I have a look?’

‘This would make such a great weapon!!’

‘No thanks, just browsing.’

‘That guy over there! That’s my killer!’


And no worries if that writer in your life is a romance, sci-fi or other writer. These translations can be easily adjusted.

So there you have it. The perfect way to learn how to communicate effectively with the crime writer in your life. I sincerely hope this is helpful. We crime writers really are nice people. All it takes is a little understanding.

Fellow crime writers, got any additions?

Happy Weekend!


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61 responses to “Do You Speak ‘Crime Writer?’

  1. I’m not sure it’s wise or healthy for me to comment here. I am reminded, everytime I go to a crime writers/readers conference, that I am surrounding myself with a lot of people who carry on detailed conversations with the voices in their heads…

  2. You forgot the ‘silence, don’t mind me, I’m just reading quietly in the corner’ which really means ‘I’m eavesdropping on your dialogue and thinking how you are making veiled references to the murder you are plotting’.

  3. Haha! So familiar. I was in the woods walking the dog with my little man a few months ago and we were looking at good overgrown areas we could find bodies and I was taking photos with my phone! Nothing like involving all the family 🙂

    • Rebecca – 😆 Oh, that is so true! And why not start them young? Erm – would you mind posting those ‘photos? We could all use the inspiration if it’s a good ‘body dump’ site…

  4. Very funny Margot. And I’m going to add a cheeky one: ‘Tell me your honest opinion of my book – I value the truth’. Translation: ‘Tell me it’s the best thing you’ve read all year and should get an award. Lie if necessary.’

  5. “Can I buy you a coffee?” means lemme see how fast you open up

    “I can get us cookies” is your reward for just having told me something

    “Dinner sometime?” means we should get together one day to compare notes e.g. it is a work-dinner and nothing romantic!

  6. I can’t add either to your list or to the other comments, but feeling deeply contented at this evidence of kindred souls 🙂

  7. Reblogged this on Your Blog Coach and commented:
    If you have any “crime speak” to add please do so at Margo’s blog

  8. Pingback: Do You Speak ‘Crime Writer?’ | Your Blog Coach

  9. Love this – thanks Margot (and in this case, Excellent = Excellent!) 🙂

  10. What about something along the lines of ‘Would you like to go camping with us?’ Which would really mean, I need to see how people react to things that go bump in the night or what they do when they hear strange sounds in the wild.

    Margot, you always have a great way of making us think outside the box. Love the post.

  11. I wonder how many fictional victims were rude clerks and road rage drivers in real life. Out loud we say, “What a jerk” while mentally we’re saying “Oh, you are so dead.”

    • Pat – Oh, I think if those people really knew what we were thinking, they’d be a l-o-o-o-o-o-t nicer to us! I know I’ve been inspired more than once by someone who wasn’t.

  12. This was a lot of fun…Great way to begin a weekend! 🙂

  13. Great fun, Margot, and much truth in jest!

  14. ‘Thanks for telling me that.’

    ‘You will be the victim in my next story. It will not be pretty.’

    Priceless. Thanks Margot.

  15. Clarissa Draper

    These are wonderful. I’m pretty sure I’m on a watch-list somewhere because of what I look up on the internet. I just hope they believe I’m a writer.

  16. Brilliant, Margot! I got told off for actually saying the translation of number six out loud the other day :-/

  17. It drives Phil crazy when he sees me just sitting and staring. But how else can you solve a problem?

  18. This was a very entertaining post, Ms. Kinberg. Since I’m not a crime writer, here’s one as a crime reader:

    Crime reader: Great story, solid characters, terrific suspense, a real humdinger of a mystery—love it!

    What I mean: The dead body turns up on page 184 and it’s been on the bestseller list for three consecutive weeks! What the hell?

  19. I don’t write crime fiction but clearly read far too much as illustrated by a recent relaxing al fresco drink with friends. The conversation was about holidays and C was chatting about his forthcoming trip to Vietnam when I thoughtlessly added that the terrain would lend itself well to murder… I got a few raised eyebrows to that one!!

  20. So… when one knocks a glass of red wine of the table, do you immediately think out loud “blood splatter”? I think I read too much crime fiction ( though I know others who think the same) 🙂

  21. Great blog, Margot. Very true in particular, in my case, about the chocolate!

    • Dawn – Glad you enjoyed this one – thanks for the kind words. 🙂 And if you ask me, chocolate is a major food group, an essential part of a diet that promotes mental health. 😉

  22. Oh, I do so agree about it being an essential part of a diet! I find a little chocolate helps the thinking processes!

  23. kathy d.

    Chocolate and caffeine: How would anything be written without them? I’ve made 11 p.m. forays to the nearest grocery stores to get “my fixes” so I can write. They are two of the major food groups, I hope everyone knows.
    I do not know crime writers personally, only know a lot of crime readers.
    But I’d imagine every single news story, accident, potential murder weapon (herbs, anyone?) that pops into one’s life, any trip, natural disaster, TV show, just anything could provide food for thought for the plots.

    • Kathy – Nice to know I’m not the only one who is willing to make extra trips out for those essential nutrients. 😉 – You’ve got a good point too about news events. Very often, when a crime writer says, ‘I must catch up on this news story!,’ what s/he really means is, ‘What a perfect idea for plot!’ Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share that translation.

  24. Great post, Margot! I have to confess that when I meet someone and they’ve told me what they do, I often say… “What you do sounds fascinating! What’s the most surprising/weird [thing that’s happened… person you’ve met.. etc.] on your job?” Translation: Give me ideas for plot points, oddball characters, distractions, red herrings, motives….!

    • Ellen – Thanks for the kind words. And I know exactly what you mean about meeting interesting people. ‘Tell me about your work,’ often translates into ‘You are an absolute gold mine for my next story!’

  25. I often get caught “eyeing” someone in public. What I’m really thinking is, “How could I kill you and get away with it.” Great post! I’m so glad I’m not the only one who bases victims on real people who are rude. A tight smile while thinking, “You are going to die a horrible death as soon as I get home.”

    • Sue – I love that comment: A tight smile while thinking “You are going to die a horrible death as soon as I get home.”. That captures it beautifully. And I’ve been known to ‘people watch’ too. It’s hard to do that without calling too much attention to oneself…

  26. Col

    I think this reader uses the chocolate excuse also. It’s almost obligatory.

  27. I am not a crime fiction writer, but I clearly read too much crime fiction, because when someone ticks me off, I take perverse pleasure in creating situations where they turn up either as the murder victim, or the main accused!

    Many of those also apply for the crime fiction reader (or any other reader for that matter). When we say coming now, we mean “after finishing the chapter/ book/ etc”.

    Fantastic post

    • Thanks, Natasha! I think crime readers and crime writers probably have a lot in common in the way they think. Perhaps at some point I’ll do ‘crime reader’ translation post…

  28. Margot – Great post! And terrific comments. Here’s my cheeky contribution: “He’s my absolutest, favoritest writer.” Translation: “I steal, eh, rather borrow from him, better yet, pay homage to him, in a lot in my writing.”
    Or this one: I say to fellow author: “You write so well.” Translation: “It irritates me that you’re better than me.” BTW chocolate rules. Coffee too.

    • Bryan – Oh, your contributions are fabulous!! I love them! Thanks for sharing, and thanks for the kind words. And yes, where would we be without coffee and chocolate. Both count as important elements of a (mentally) healthy diet. 🙂

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