This work week has been a busy one, so my blog has taken the brunt of the neglect. In the little bit of downtime I've had this week, I started reading more about YOUR craft. I may know all about the realities of police work, but I'm fascinated with what you do in crafting protagonists, antagonists, mentor characters and story arcs.
As a voracious reader, I'm familiar with those concepts. More importantly, I don't have daunting task of filling that blank white page with brilliant fiction as a blinking cursor taunts you. My cases don't follow a three act arc and my characters are real life people. You amaze me with your creativity. So I am taking it upon myself to learn more about YOUR craft to better help you.
I am not a writing coach. I am not an editor, although my Command Staff often asks me to proof their press releases and memos for errors. Yet, I do write for a living.
I was lucky to grow up in a neighborhood with excellent public schools. My high school required graduating seniors to pass the University of California's 5-Point English exam prior to graduating. At the time, I had no idea what an advantage this would prove to be.
Many of the Detective stories I advise upon have protagonists that make the rank of Detective quickly. I "made Detective" at the age of 24, with a whopping two and a half years police experience. So I leaned first hand what it takes to be a fast-burner. It wasn't my arrest record. It wasn't a high profile case. It wasn't an A-type go-go-go personality or a PhD.
So how does a rookie patrol officer get noticed by Command Staff and promoted to Detective at age 24? It came down to this one simple thing: Being able to WRITE!
More than 50% of the radio calls handled by Patrol Division result in a report. Those reports are what initiate the investigations assigned to Detectives. In other words, those reports are your work product. So the first thing the Detective Bureau looks for in the applicants aspiring to join their ranks is "Does this officer write like a Detective?"
It wasn't until I began authoring search warrants and investigative follow-up reports that it dawned on me just how far my writing may go. It wasn't just my Sergeant reading my work. My report detailing a confession or my search warrant affidavit gets read by every attorney involved in the subsequent trial. My written words could potentially land upon the bench of the Supreme Court. (To my knowledge, they haven't. But that is something I keep in mind every time I am writing.). That's how high the stakes are when it comes to writing as a Detective.
I have no doubt that you, the Writer reading this, write at or above a "Detective's level." This very fact puts you that much closer to writing a convincing detective story. Never underestimate the power of strong English skills. After all, the Constitution was once just a blank piece of parchment paper.
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