Monday, 25 May 2015 18:56
on May 25th, 2015 at 7:27 PM
PROPER USE OF THE LEGAL SYSTEM IN FICTION
After an extended (and unintentional) blogging absence, I’ve returned with a series on criminal legal processes. These entries will offer some guidance to writers who wish to include criminal proceedings in their writing and to do so with a degree of accuracy.
As a disclaimer, I would like you to keep in mind that this will all be based upon Illinois criminal law. The exact terms and procedures may vary from state to state. Chicago may also be a bit different, as the Illinois Legislature has passed a number of laws that specifically exempt (or only apply to) Chicago. The federal system is a whole different beast, but I intend to touch on that as well. With all that in mind, let’s dive right in.
Monday, 27 April 2015 19:37
on April 27th, 2015 at 9:29 PM
The best good description should be as transparent to the reader as possible, meaning it should blend with the story, not stand out from it. Well-written description can be so compelling that the reader experiences rather than sees the scene. If the reader is more than lightly aware of the description, then it’s not done right.
Good description is like good art: it should have a focal point, not just be dumped on the reader. A good artist knows how to create the focal point in his work and how to wrap the rest of the piece around it. A non-artist may simply see the whole picture and miss the focal point.
So it is with writing. When describing the scene and the character, you should find the focal point of each. What stands out most? Remember that in writing the scene is being told from the viewpoint of one particular character at a time. The character’s interests and personality will color how he or she sees something. The writer should therefore describe the scene as the character, not the writer, would see it. What aspects draw the character’s attention? What parts are most important for the reader to see? This is where you learn to edit your writing.
Monday, 02 March 2015 19:59
on March 2nd, 2015 at 9:00 PM
guest post by Kellee Kranendonk
Once again, I’m pleased to have Kellee Kranendonk as a guest on our blog. This time, Kellee provides us with a simply superb post on description wherein she answers the question, How much description do you really need?
My answer is that you need however much as it takes to inform your reader and keep him/her interested in reading the descriptions without wanting to skip over any. With that, let’s hear Kellee’s excellent advice along with her excellent examples.
Tuesday, 03 February 2015 06:54
on February 2nd, 2015 at 9:01 PM
guest post by Sgt. Adam Fenner
Award winning author Adam Fenner has served in both the US Marine Corps and the Nevada National Guard. Adam is the co-author of On Two Fronts the Silver Medal winner of the Independent Book Publishers Association’s Bill Fisher Award (Nonfiction) and the “Deployment Wisdom” series. He is a student pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in Accounting at UNLV, and is currently working on a horror series called the “Horrors of War” with its first release OP #7 in March 2015, and a dark fantasy series. Adam maintains a blog at www.authoradamfenner.com.
Tuesday, 09 December 2014 07:17
on December 8th, 2014 at 9:03 PM
I know, I know. I’m doing dialog posts with astonishing slowness even for me, but I’ll get to the end of them one of these weeks… or months… or years.
This particular post in the series began with a recent blog post from Anne R. Allen (a great blog, by the way):
Specifically, it began with Anne Allen’s bogus point #3: “‘”Said’ is boring. Use more energetic tags like ‘exclaimed’, ‘growled’, and ‘ejaculated.'”
To which Anne replied:
Monday, 20 October 2014 18:44
on October 20th, 2014 at 7:50 PM
After a much-needed hiatus, I have returned to revisit the topic of fingerprints. If you recall from my earlier entries on the subject, we discussed what makes up a fingerprint, how they form, biologically speaking, on your skin, and the various methods we have for developing them. In this entry, we’ll get more into the technical side, showing how a fingerprint identification is actually made. If you’re writing a crime novel, or any novel involving fingerprints, a basic understanding of these principles will give your book a greater sense of realism.
As I mentioned in the first entry in this series, fingerprints are divided into three primary groups: loops, whorls, and arches. Each of those groups has its own subsets, but for the most part the subsets have fallen into disuse. They were important up until the last decade or two, because they helped eliminate prints from consideration. At that time, fingerprints were named based upon the type, the subset, and a numeric identification that had to do with the number of friction ridges between certain identifying features (deltas, cores, and so on). But now, with the advent of computerized fingerprint comparisons, the importance of the subsets has faded.
Monday, 18 August 2014 19:15
I was trying to decide what aspect of fingerprints I should cover as the next part of my continuing series of crime scene blogs when Rick reminded me that I had promised some information about the study of blood spatter patterns. So without further ado, let’s dive right in.
In many violent crimes where blood spatter patterns are present, there aren’t any living witnesses to the crime who can tell us about the sequence of events. It falls to the investigator to study the signs and determine exactly what happened. Much like Aragorn in Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings, a trained investigator can take a series of signs and use them to reconstruct the crime.
Sunday, 13 July 2014 12:48
on June 30th, 2014 at 8:31 PM
In the previous six installments of my police investigation series, I focused primarily on the investigation at death scenes for five of them. I covered a number of aspects of these cases, including how we determine if a death is accidental, murder, suicide, or natural. I examined ways to estimate how long it has been since the person’s death, and I covered the procedures we follow for each situation.
In a post three months ago (4/7/2014) I did “Forensic Fun with Fingerprints” (the Part 1 of this Part 2). At this point, I would like to go into more detail about the science of fingerprints and palm prints. Because it has been a while since my last post on this topic, some of what I present here will repeat part of the previous post in order to make the discussion clear, and so you don’t have to refer to the previous one to understand this one.
Monday, 23 June 2014 13:59
How can you design a character that is supposed to be smarter/more clever/more intelligent than the author?
This question came up recently on the Forum at Silver Pen. (Readers of this blog readers who are not members of Silver Pen should consider joining. It’s free and it’s a great place to learn to improve your writing.) Several people chimed in with advice.
Before we look at the answers, let’s consider what “smarter” (or more intelligent) means in this context. One commenter at Silver Pen cautioned not to get too hung up on “smart” and “clever” because these terms are somewhat relative. Two quotes from different commenters in the discussion are relevant:
Tuesday, 17 June 2014 18:53
on June 9th, 2014 at 9:34 PM
It’s been over a year since I wrote Part 4 of this series. You can see and read parts 1-4 simply by going to clicking here to go to Rick's "Dialog" category at his blog.
In this installment, I want to offer some tips on the basics of writing good dialog. Some writers struggle with dialog, while to others it comes naturally.
Why is dialog important in stories? Done well, it can be one of the best way to “show, don’t tell” because it can show the personalities of the characters, make them individuals, and help the reader to get to know them. Now, for that to happen, dialog has to step beyond the trivial and not be mundane. It’s okay for characters to greet each other, but the lines should consist of more than “Hi, Steve” or “What’s up, Martin?”