1. ToxicWaste
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    ToxicWaste Member

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    Criminals?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by ToxicWaste, Jun 11, 2010.

    Being a relatively upstanding citizen myself, I am having some trouble creating a character who is a crook. Does anyone know of any good books or media that could help me build a unique character?
     
  2. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Personally, I'd research by reading a few Criminal Psychology books. Try Googling or check out your library. My mum's old law textbooks also give me ideas sometimes.
     
  3. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    That's what I'd do too. Look into criminal profiling. It's an actual profession. So I'm sure there is info out there. Supposedly you can tell a lot about a criminal just by their crime and how they commit it. I'm not sure how much truth there is to it. I would think there would be though..
     
  4. Anonym
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    Anonym Contributing Member

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    What constitutes criminality?
    No one think's of themselves as a criminal.
    If you and I were to meet in a dark alley and my family was strarving, you'd better be damn sure i'd be prying the gold from your teeth. Nothing personal, or purposely immoral. Merely a consequence of surivival. You or me. In which case i wouldn't feel the least bit "criminal".

    Of course, there are many different context for being a "criminal", but seeing how it's so vague, i can only give the vaugest of ansewrs. refine your OP a bit more maybe and we could discern in what context your character is a "criminal"....

    ...i'm dubious of said term obviously, haha
     
  5. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    I think creating a stereotype crook is the easy part..... the thing you should think about is adding layers to his character. A crook can also be a loving husband, brother, son. In short, make your crook multidimensional.
     
  6. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    What is your crook doing? Is he a burglar? Is he a serial killer? Is he a rapist? Is he a terrorist? Is he one of those out-of-control protestors who blow things up to make a statement? There are plenty of resources I'm sure, depending on what kind of crook this killer is.

    I'm starting to watch Criminal Minds. It's just a TV show but I think it's helping me a little bit with getting inside the head of a crook.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Go to the Mystery section of your local bookstore and start buying and reading. You'll encounter a plethora of murders, but there are a wealth of other crimes chronicled as well. Greed, avarice, cruelty, and perversion in nearly infinite variety.

    Also, pay attention to the evening news. Then go online and accumulate details.
     
  8. Suomyno
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    Suomyno Member

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    Go read. All I can say. I'm working on a novel where one of the (if not THE) most important characters is a killer. The only reason I've been able to get into his head and put him together is because I've been interested in true crime since I was little. I've read dozens of books, some more general and some on specific cases, watching true crime shows (Cold Case Files, ect) and investigating cases that I'm interested in on the internet. Where you look will depend on what kind of criminal you're trying to portray.
     
  9. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    I love that show. You know I forgot all about that. I bet that would be a great place to get inspiration. It's about criminal profiling. Really fascinating stuff. Kinda out there though.
     
  10. Show
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    Yeah it's a little out there but so are a lot of things in fiction. But 12 million people seem to eat it up every week and if only 1/4 of that amount bought a copy of my book, I'd be pretty happy. There is a market for out-there writing apparently. lol

    I recommend reading too if it works. For me, TV is more inspiration, always has been. I am inspired when I am entertained. So if a book entertains me, it's good inspiration. But books are harder to entertain me, so I prefer TV.(It's not as expensive a pop either. :p) Yes I am a mindless TV addict but hey, inspiration is what it is and you can't control what inspires you. :p
     
  11. SilverWolf0101
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    SilverWolf0101 Active Member

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    Reading and television are certainly good ways to get an idea about what criminals are like. But quite honestly, they can only give you so much. So I'm going out there with my suggestion.

    Go to the local police station/jail house or centers for the younger generation that commited a crime, and see if you can't interview a few people.

    I know, it's really out there and usually when I say this most people look at me like I lost my mind. It's actually a good idea, finding someone who lives/lived the way you want to describe a character and talking to them for a while can give you the best information. Now I'm not saying go to your local jail house and finding the biggest badest criminal out there, just talk to the staff there and see if they're willing to let you talk to someone more suttle.

    If not, at least you tried. Plus, there's always books and television.
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, I didn't suggest seeking out the criminal element, because, well, they can be dangerous. But if you have access to people in that world, by all means use your contacts.

    The standard advice is, "Write what you know." But the flip side is also good advice. "Know what you write."

    Only you can decide how much to place yourself at risk in your pursuit of that knowledge. Just don't take unnecessary risks.
     
  13. talknerdytome
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    talknerdytome Member

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    Having studied a module of forensic psychology, and my partner being a police officer for a year and a half, I would recommend staying away from anything fictional. I often find myself screaming at the TV that it's all wrong. For a start, only a handful of people in the world are criminal profilers, it's not really a job as such, more that if you are a highly successful and specialised in a certain area of psychology and crimes are being committed in that area, you may be called upon.

    I would try volunteering with offenders, they're usually desperate for people to do this. Or try writing to offenders on death row or in prison, that would be a good place to start.
     
  14. Show
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    Hey, if you are writing fiction, other fiction can make good inspiration. If your goal is to get inside the head of a crook, then the show "getting it all wrong" doesn't really matter, cause that isn't what you're looking to the show for in that case.

    Besides, fiction takes liberties all the time in making how things work a bit more convenient. We want fiction to be realistic but sometimes the story gets smothered in trying to make sure there is nothing to nitpick, a task that of course can never be accomplished because even if you model it exactly after a real agency, somebody is likely to find something they think you did wrong. It's important to make sure your story is fairly realistic but since you are writing fiction, avoiding fiction as research seems a bit rash.
     
  15. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Very true. What I've been writing lately is a bit out there too. :p So if you do it right it obviously works. Key is to know what you write and write what you know. ;)
     
  16. Show
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    Yep! lol I think all of our writing can be a bit out there, it's how it becomes interesting. You'll be hard pressed to find fiction that doesn't take liberties and you might go nuts trying to do that. lol Obviously if people without any experience in the field can stop errors, you've got a problem. But if you write it well enough, you probably can get away with liberties.
     
  17. VegasGeorge
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    VegasGeorge Member

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    The behavior of your basic criminal is only governed by the fear of getting caught. He has little or no standards, morals, ethics, or compunctions beyond that. He operates without a conscience, and consequently feels no guilt. Actually, the criminal's psyche is simpler and easier to understand than a normal person's. Just concentrate on greed, selfishness, brutality, and immediate gratification as character traits and you should do fine.
     
  18. SilverWolf0101
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    SilverWolf0101 Active Member

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    Not true. Not all criminals are like this. I read a good number of interviews where the criminals each reacted differently. There was even one who felt so much guilt for what he had done that he could bare it no more and commited suicide as repentence for the sins he commited. Criminals are human too.


    Also Cogito, in my post I said that seeking out a criminal was out there, and that I don't recommend going and finding dangerous criminals. A youth center is the best way to get both worlds without worrying about you life most times. However, it does not give you the mindset of an older character. This is why I suggested a jail. No one said that going to a jail to talk to a criminal meant you had to put your life on the line.
     
  19. Show
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    Ah but what if a criminal has no fear of getting caught? Maybe they know they won't because they are smarter than the cops, or maybe they plan to get caught? Criminals aren't always one-dimensional meanies.
     
  20. Anonym
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    Anonym Contributing Member

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    VegasGeorge and SilverWolf have reaffirmed my basic curiousity: what kind of criminal? What context?

    As VG said, the stereotypical, cookie-cutter criminal is a relatively well defined archtype. Shouldn't be too hard to find good examples. But if the OP was angling for a character with any level of personal depth, the circumstances of his/her past and life and what drives him/her to criminality are vital to creating a "unique" character.

    And also, obviously, there's a vast array of types of criminals: murderers, dealers, white-collar/embezzlers, ect, ect, ect. Sooo... what does a "crook" entail? It's a pretty general term.
     
  21. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Criminals are rarely that simple. Why else would their be people who do a psychological analysis of criminals? Criminal profiling is an actual profession.

    Just because someone does evil/wrong things doesn't mean that they are one dimensional. There are usually a lot of different factors that go into what makes a criminal. Criminals are still people. People are complex.

    Also there are criminals who are highly intelligent along with arrogant who believe they are impossible to catch.

    One thing to consider is if your criminal is immoral or amoral. Does he/she have a a moral compass or does he/she believe they do no wrong?
     
  22. valdein lawnstin
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    valdein lawnstin Member

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    is your crook a big time jewel thief, is he a small time thug or is he an impulsive opportunist.

    look into your id (your impulsive self) the part of you that thinks about doing things that are on the margins of morality this part exists in us all (represented in cartoons by the little devil on your left shoulder)

    a metaphor i.e. get in touch with your bad conseunce (forgive the spelling error, dyslexia is a pain in the neck)
     
  23. Show
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    Yep, but at the same time, not all criminals are bad because of some childhood trauma or anything. While they may have had it, sometimes a person just chooses evil because it is more appealing to their twisted desires and thus they do bad things. Writing the bad guys is a very interesting and complex job. :p
     
  24. valdein lawnstin
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    valdein lawnstin Member

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    also that makes a big difference in the character, if he is pure evil and likes to murder pregnant women and eat puppies then it would make a very different character than if it is somebody who counts cards at a casino and rips of his minibar, both crooks, very different characters.
     
  25. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Haha that's what I just said.. :p Amoral = evil is just more appealing. They couldn't care less. Immoral = they know they are doing wrong and may have qualms about it.

    I'm sure it is. I've not really tried to write a character like that thus far. I will probably be attempting to at some point though because I like a challenge.
     

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