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How to Write a Crime Scene: Really Useful Links by Lucy O’Callaghan

Writing.ie | Resources | Essential Guides | Links for Writers
Lucy O'Callaghan

Lucy O’Callaghan

Attention to detail is essential when writing a crime scene; the little things can become important, and they can create the biggest problems. As it is National Crime Reading Month, this week’s column on writing a crime scene. Checking the process of how a crime scene is dealt with, and the stages of investigation to be taken wherever the story is based is a necessary part of writing. I have put together some articles, podcasts, and YouTube videos with tips and information worth considering when writing your crime scenes.

  1. https://www.livewritethrive.com/2015/03/02/10-tips-on-how-to-write-believable-crime-and-murder-scenes/

This article from a former Canadian homicide detective shares his tips for writing crime scenes, including understanding the mechanism of death, understanding scene access, and getting the terminology right. He encourages the writer to expand their story by using more than autopsies, toxicology, and document examination. He advises using the multitude of resources available such as undercover agents, psychological profiling, room bugs, and wires.

  1. https://www.crime-scene-investigator.net/document.html

Three methods usually used to document a crime scene are written notes, crime scene photographs, and a diagram or sketch. Each method is important in the process of properly documenting the crime scene. The notes and reports should be completed in chronological order and shouldn’t include opinion, analysis, or conclusions. Just the facts. Mike Byrd shares a format used by his department that uses a narrative section of the report divided into 5 categories. The categories are summary, scene, processing, evidence collected, and pending. This article explains each category. All this information is great for the writer to figure out what might go wrong or what might slip the detective’s notice.

  1. https://www.thecreativepenn.com/2012/07/22/writing-death-crime-scenes/

Although this is an old article it is full of great information about writing a crime scene. It discusses what writers often get wrong when writing about death, including the mechanism of death, time of death, DNA/ dental records, and how a body is identified.

  1. https://litreactor.com/columns/writing-the-crime-scene-winter-forensics

This article focuses on cold weather forensics, giving the writer things to consider to make your story realistic and authentic. It covers hypothermia, frostbite, frozen firearms, and snowy corpses.

  1. https://www.forensicsciencesimplified.org/csi/how.html

This is a simplified guide to crime scene investigations. It discusses samples that may be collected at a crime scene, the types of evidence collected, who examines the scenes, how a crime scene investigation is conducted, and how and where tests on the evidence are conducted.

PODCASTS

  1. https://www.writersdetective.com/episodes/

The Writer’s Detective Bureau is a podcast hosted by veteran Police Detective Adam Richardson. Adam answers questions about criminal investigation and police work posed by crime-fiction authors and screenwriters writing crime-related stories.

  1. https://www.livewriters.com/podcast/sps-253-how-to-write-an-authentic-crime-scene-with-patrick-odonnell/

The Self-publishing show podcast discusses writing authentic crime and how the devil is in the details.

YOUTUBE

This video is about the fundamentals of crime scene processing. It shares tips to avoid transfer, loss, and contamination of evidence.

Dr Ian Turner, from the University of Derby, introduces the concept of crime scenes, explains how they may be different and what they have in common. He also discusses the role of a Crime Scene Investigator within a crime scene.

Writing crime scenes is not just about getting the words on the page, the process has to be accurate and the details are important. Your reader might know nothing about the police procedures or they may be a detective in the police force, so the writer must strive for accuracy in these scenes. Research is key. Asking people in the know can be really helpful and, for the most part, these people will only be delighted to help you out as long as you credit them in your novel! I hope this week’s column has been helpful. As always, let me know if there are any topics you would like me to cover. Enjoy the rest of National Crime Reading Month.

(c) Lucy O’Callaghan

Instagram: lucy.ocallaghan.31.

Facebook: @LucyCOCallaghan

Twitter: @LucyCOCallaghan

About the author

Writing since she was a child, Lucy penned her first story with her father called Arthur’s Arm, at the ripe old age of eight. She has been writing ever since. Inspired by her father’s love of the written word and her mother’s encouragement through a constant supply of wonderful stationary, she wrote short stories for her young children, which they subsequently illustrated.
A self-confessed people watcher, stories that happen to real people have always fascinated her and this motivated her move to writing contemporary women’s fiction. Her writing has been described as pacy, human, moving and very real.
Lucy has been part of a local writing group for over ten years and has taken creative writing classes with Paul McVeigh, Jamie O’Connell and Curtis Brown Creative. She truly found her tribe when she joined Writer’s Ink in May 2020. Experienced in beta reading and critiquing, she is currently editing and polishing her debut novel.
Follow her on Instagram: lucy.ocallaghan.31. Facebook and Twitter: @LucyCOCallaghan

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