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So You Want to Write Crime Set in the UK or the USA?

Writing.ie | Guest Bloggers | Crime Scene

Louise Phillips

I am delighted to welcome Frances di Plino to crime scene today. Frances di Plino is the pen name of Lorraine Mace, children’s author, humour columnist for Writing Magazine and a competition judge for Writers’ Forum. Writing as Frances di Plino, she is the author of the crime/thriller series featuring D.I. Paolo Storey: Bad Moon Rising, Someday Never Comes, Call It Pretending and her latest release Looking for a Reason.

You will see from the guest post below that Frances di Plino (Lorraine Mace) has also a wealth of information for researching that crime novel in the USA or the UK – put on the kettle and enjoy!!!

 

Lorraine Mace, Frances di Plino

 

So You Want to Write Crime Set in the UK or the USA?

You’ve got the plot carefully constructed. You know the characters better than your own family members. The setting is more real to you than the town you grew up in. All the clues are in place. The red herrings are so artfully inserted they resemble sharks, lurking to catch the unwary. What more could you possibly need?

 

Ah, yes, it would be useful to have knowledge of how forensic teams operate in the UK or USA. An in-depth understanding of police procedures, protocol and hierarchy wouldn’t go amiss either. And if you could have a few specialists in the crime field on hand to offer advice and make sure you don’t fall into glaring errors by replicating what you see on the television from the multitude of overseas crimes shows you watch daily, that would be just grand.

 

What if you don’t have all the above? What if you don’t have any of the above? Gulp!

 

Not to worry, there’s always the internet, you think to yourself. This is true. The internet is an amazing place when it comes to research, but it can also be time consuming and send you off down dark alleys leading to dead ends. But how can you find the right sites that will give you credible information?

 

Fear not, help is at hand.

 

Let’s start with a few wonderful sites in the UK

 

Criminal Justice Writers: http://www.criminaljusticewriters.com/index.html

 

This is the first place I go when I have a question. Criminal Justice Writers is an amazing website. The brains behind it are aspiring and published authors who all work in the Criminal Justice System. They collaborate to provide free technical advice on any writing project.

 

The consultants are all experts in their field across a wide range of disciplines and professions. It is there for authors who need that extra bit of detail to enrich their writing, who simply want some writing checked over for procedural and factual accuracy or writers who are simply looking for inspiration or something a bit different to write about.

 

Even if you don’t need a one to one contact, it’s worth going on the site just to read their resource articles covering everything from Forensics to the Parole Board.

 

BAILLI (British and Irish Legal Information Institute) is another fabulous research avenue. Here you can find British and Irish case law & legislation, European Union case law, Law Commission reports, and other law-related British and Irish material. http://www.bailii.org/

 

For information on Crime, Justice and the Law for the UK, this site is invaluable: https://www.gov.uk/browse/justice

 

Want to know the hierarchy of the British police? Look no further than this site: http://www.police-information.co.uk/Docs/careerinformation/rankstructure.html. There is also a wealth of information regarding the police force structure, pay scales and other essential knowledge.

 

And now for the USA

 

The obvious starting place is the Department of Justice: http://www.justice.gov

 

Drilling down into easier to use information you might like to visit the reference desk for a page of 36 excellent links relating to crime and law enforcement in the USA. The links cover everything from cybercrime to serial killers. There is even a link to homicide trends in the USA since 1976. If you haven’t yet finalised your plot, you will have no difficulty adding in a very intriguing subplots and false leads after reading the information available from this site.  http://www.refdesk.com/crime.html

 

Another good site is the National Archive of Criminal Justice, whose mission is to facilitate research in criminal justice and criminology – but there’s no reason why it shouldn’t also help you with research for your novel. http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/icpsrweb/NACJD/

 

Crime and Clues is a wonderful site covering the art and science of criminal investigation. Links include profiling, interrogation, forensic science and courtroom testimony. http://crimeandclues.com/

 

Then there are the two obvious sites to visit, the CIA https://www.cia.gov/index.html and the FBI http://www.fbi.gov/

 

The links and information given above are not exhaustive. There is a lot out there to discover, but don’t let the research get in the way of the writing. Find out what you, as author, need to know, but only use those essential elements the reader needs to know to make the story work.

 

For my novels, I generally have folders full of background information, of which I use about two per cent in the actual writing. More than that and the story would get bogged down with unnecessary technical information. Less than that and the story would lose authenticity.

 

Frances di Plino is the pen name of Lorraine Mace, children’s author, humour columnist for Writing Magazine and a competition judge for Writers’ Forum. Writing as Frances di Plino, she is the author of the crime/thriller series featuring D.I. Paolo Storey: Bad Moon Rising, Someday Never Comes, Call It Pretending and her latest release Looking for a Reason

 

www.francesdiplino.com

www.lorrainemace.com

Paolo four cropped

 

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