Write a killer to win a thriller

Crime writers use a killer opening line to bait a trap for their fictional detective’s real quarry: the reader.

Now you can have a go at setting up a mystery in one sentence which will be judged by a top murder mystery author at Buxton International Festival Crime Writers’ Lunch – and win a signed thriller.

Hooking readers’ interest in the first line with enough danger and suspense to make them read on is the sign of a successful writer, and the Lunch on November 26 will hear how killer queen Val McDermid, who created Wire in the Blood, and Peak District writer Sarah Ward have used the technique to huge success.

Guests at the Lunch can try their own hand by submitting just one sentence to the organisers, who will pass on the best ten to the crime writers for a final judgment.

“Creating a brilliant killer opening line is a real craft,” said Festival Literary Manager Jackie Doyle. “Writers know that they have to grab the reader from the very beginning if they are going to draw them into their characters and story.”

Here are some of the best opening lines in crime fiction:

“Hale knew, before he had been in Brighton three hours, that they meant to murder him.” Graham Greene, Brighton Rock.

“This time there would be no witnesses.” Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

“It was the bright yellow tape that finally convinced me my sister was dead.” Hilary Davidson, The Damage Done.

The Crime Writers’ Lunch is part of the Festival Book Weekend, and includes a slap-up meal at The Old Hall Hotel, England’s longest continually operational hotel  – where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned before being beheaded.

The Weekend runs from November 24 to 26. It includes talks by the BBC’s Jeremy Vine, Time Team’s Tony Robinson, The Archers’ Timothy Bentinck, Lib Dem Leader Vince Cable and many more.

For more details and to book tickets for the events or the Lunch, ring 01298 72190, or go to www.buxtonfestival.co.uk/whats-on/books