When you get an idea for a crime novel, you may think about the crime first. You may ask yourself questions, such as who is responsible, who is the victim, and who will be affected by the crime. These are normal questions and should be answered as part of your novel, as readers want answers to these troublesome questions. If a crime is committed in your novel and you do not provide the answer, you could be lacking a serious connection with your readers. The reason is that readers are looking for someone to blame, and if you do not paint the picture of someone they can hate, you may not be building enough fear.

Think about real-life crime: there's always a perpetrator. There's always someone who the public is hunting so they can get answers. When the police end up making an arrest, the public can celebrate and breathe a sigh of relief. Sometimes, the excitement is so big that they celebrate even though the person arrested is innocent. As human beings, we need answers to things we can't comprehend. Without the answers, we experience fear. It's the same thing when writing a novel.

There has to be a negative force

There has to be a negative force because there has to be something that people can blame. It goes together with the whole "something we don't understand" theory discussed above. One can example is a break-in at a daycare.

That may not sound too scary. That's because we don't know who has broken into the daycare or why. Could it be a homeless person seeking shelter? Or maybe it was just a group of crazy teenagers. However, if you give people enough information to make it relatable, they get scared.

For example, if you explained in your novel that the person who broke into a daycare had a motive.

He wanted to hurt as many children as possible. He broke into the daycare to hide traps or pour poison on all of the teething toys for the younger children. That will send chills down any mother's spine. That's true fear. Immediately, your readers want answers to solve this mystery. That's how you get the true Malevolent figure to emerge.

Scared of the unknown

Of course, readers are scared of the unknown. But the unknown doesn't have to be something completely unforeseeable. You don't want your readers to be so confused that they don't know if they are dealing with a criminal who is a father, or an alien from out of space. The unknown figure can also become so vague that there's nothing to fear.

How do you spread fear in your crime novels?