A commonly asked question, both at real crime scenes and at those from the world of fiction, is this: how long has the victim been dead? A variety of tools is available to investigators who are looking to answer that very question. However, sometimes the methods described by fiction authors fall short of reality. Let’s take a look at some ways we can get to the truth on this matter. Keep in mind that many of these methods are affected by temperature. The warmer the air, the faster all of these processes of decomposition will become.
One simple manner is by examining cell phones and other technology used for communication. This is a method I just used in the past week on a real case. A one-car, one-occupant accident occurred on a rural road, killing the driver. However, the wreckage wasn’t discovered for some time, so we had no idea how long the person had been deceased. We can download data from the Airbag Control Module (a.k.a. the “black box”), and while this will certainly tell us about the crash, the data doesn’t include a date and time stamp.
Instead, I checked her cell phone. By looking at her outgoing calls and text messages, along with her access to social media such as Facebook, I was able to determine that she was still alive at 1 a.m. She was found at around 3:00 a.m., so the time of death is down to a two-hour window. Not bad. If this had been a homicide, we’d have a great starting point for checking the alibis of potential suspects.
by Write Well, Write To Sellon February 17th, 2014 at 8:41 PM
Reposted with permission.
Last week I talked about head-hopping in terms of POV. As a refresher, head hopping refers to slipping out of the viewpoint of whichever character is narrating a scene and slipping into the viewpoint of another character in the scene, one whose thoughts and feelings the starting POV character cannot know.
I also discussed how this differs from the omniscient POV. In that POV, an external narrator is telling the story and is therefore able to enter into the heads of various characters because he knows what those characters are thinking and feeling.
A variant of head-hopping is the POV slip. This happens when the author inadvertently slips out of the POV character’s head to reveal something the character cannot be experiencing directly. Often this will be some reaction on the character’s own face (such as blushing) that he can’t see unless he’s looking in a mirror. However, the character can know what blushing feels like (warmth in the face or neck), so the author can (and should) express it this way.
on February 10th, 2014 at 8:55 PM
In two previous posts here (July 9, 2012 and July 23, 2012), I talked a little about point of view (POV), specifically first person and how to choose the best POV for the story.
Point of view is a lengthy and complex subject in writing, in part because there are so many possible POVs one can write in. Every story is told from the perspective of one or more narrators. Whoever is narrating the story at a particular time is termed the POV character. Moreover, a story does not have to be restricted to a single POV. Many novels are written using multiple POVs, although most short stories are restricted to just one, although this is not a requirement for short stories.
In an effort to simply this topic, let’s for the moment consider two broad POVs: omniscient and limited omniscient.
LIMITED OMNISCIENT POV is called limited because the narrator’s knowledge of the story is limited to the knowledge, thoughts, and feelings of ONE character. This narrator’s knowledge of other characters is based solely on what he/she knows of the other characters, but that knowledge cannot involve the thoughts or unexpressed feelings of any other characters (because the narrator cannot be inside the heads of those other characters–only in his/her own head.