An important part of crime writing is creating villains. The golden rule is to make them credible; you have to make them real and not some clichéd villain lifted from the movies.

The best thing is for them to have appeared earlier in the story so that the reader knows them. Ideally, though, unless you are deliberately pointing the finger at hardened criminals, you want the reader to know them but not well enough to recognise their true villainous nature. Their unmasking needs to come as a surprise.

The key thing is to give your villains a good reason to commit the crime – and that usually comes down to secrets, secrets, always secrets.

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