I am really stoked at how active the WRITERSDETECTIVE Q&A forum on Facebook has been lately. The Q&A Forum is a year round venue for you to post questions, not just during NaNoWriMo. I have corrected the pinned post at the top of the forum that suggested it was only for NaNoWriMo. Terri Swann, one of my earliest and dearest supporters of writersdetective.com, created this awesome spreadsheet of resources for crime writers. Much of the list is compiled from links mentioned in previous APB emails and Terri added some of her own research resources as well. It's awesome having all of these research links in one place and grouped by category. Thank you, Terri!!!!
- STORY: Homicide rates are up
The FBI's 2016 Uniform Crime Report shows homicide rates are up. To view the entire UCR report data, click here. Since this is a hot political topic, check out the four things you should take into account with regard to those statistics. Also included in this link is the NIJ's white paper "Assessing and Responding to the Recent Homicide Rise in the United States."
- CHARACTER: Cathy Lanier
As you likely well know, writers strive to create unforgettable character arcs for their protagonists. Check out this real-life example: Cathy Lanier was a teen-mother and 9th-grade high school dropout. How did she become the Chief of Security for the National Football League? It may have something to do with rising through the ranks of Washington D.C.'s Metro Police Department to become the Chief of Police. ...and you thought your protagonist was a bad-ass!
- CRAFT: Writing an entire book on your phone? REALLY?
I found Kevin Tumlinson's article at Draft2Digital.com on becoming a mobile writer quite thought provoking. Despite my comfort in composing emails and sending emoji laced text messages from my phone, I never even considered using my phone or tablet to actually write-write.
I need a place to sit down. I need a real keyboard (because the 9th-Grade typing class I didn't sign up for miraculously taught me how to touch-type.) I need my writing space. I need...hold on a sec...I need to stop limiting myself to when and where I write!!!!
I discovered that I really needed to rethink my writing routine. As a Detective, I became an accidental professional writer. I have been paid a lot of money over the years to write hundreds-of-thousands of words, albeit in the form of police reports and search warrants. As a result, I unwittingly boxed myself into a writing comfort zone, especially since typing on a cellphone wasn't possible when I started as a Detective. I have been surprisingly won over.
I hope you will at least check out Kevin's article and reconsider your phone or tablet as a tool for lumping some of that literary clay on to the potter's wheel of a first or second draft. I have been using Evernote and the iOS Scrivener app to get words into manuscript wherever the muse whispers. I've also found it a sly way to sneak some writing in if the boss from the day-job is around. ;)
- WRITING: The struggle is real!
So what is this aforementioned manuscript? I will get to that in just a minute. This week in the Facebook group, I posed the question:
What are the biggest demons or stumbling blocks you face when writing crime fiction?
[Even though this post is from December 10, 2017, I still want your answer! The post is pinned in the Facebook Group, so please join and give me your answers!]
The overwhelming response in the group (and in private responses) has been "not knowing enough." Many of the other more specific answers could be considered subsets of that same issue.
I asked this question because I am using it to create a non-fiction book designed specifically to help you.
I get it. Stories have structure rules that writers are expected to follow. Writing about crime adds a whole other set of rules onto that same story. It is tough, especially when you feel like you are out of your element! I want to help fix that.
This isn't the first time I've tried to create a book or online course to help writers with the cop stuff. In previous attempts at each, I always felt like whatever I created was little more than an encyclopedia or almanac of random police facts...so I scrapped them.
This time, however, I think I have figured out a much better format. I have moved beyond that initial Writer's Euphoria phase of excitement about a new project, to the point where I see just how daunting writing this book is becoming. Yet, my concept and tentative outline seems to be holding up against the formidable Story Grid Foolscap...so I am cautiously enthused. My goal is to publish the best writer's guide to police procedure and criminal investigation out there, so this will not be a quick or easy project.
Which brings me to the most important aspect of making this book useful to you: I want your input! If you are interested in providing input into what should be included in my book, click here to be added to a separate mailing list. This will prevent me from irritating the rest of the APB mailing list with my emails about the book.