1. Ryan Elder
    Offline

    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    1,613
    Likes Received:
    78

    Does my story idea work logically?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Ryan Elder, Apr 15, 2015.

    Well I am not finished it and need to get the treatment down first, but it's only my second script, and I am new to writing. But I want harsh critic, if the idea will not work, since I plan on producing and directing it myself if I go forth with it.

    My script is about a serial rapist who is not being caught for his crimes, because he is good at covering them up. One of the victims has had enough and she forms an angry lynch mob to go after him. Kind of like M (1931), which I was inspired by.

    During the course though, the mob discovers a piece of evidence, the 'macguffin', that they need to get their hands on to prove the rapist's guilt to the police. However, they cannot just steal the macguffin and turn it in, because the evidence would legally be deemed 'fruit of the poisonous tree', since they cannot acquire it through legal channels.

    So the mob comes up with this plan. They will arrange to trick the rapist into meeting them and to bring the macguffin (the rapist think it's something else, and not mob that has come for him), and then they will call the police. The police will come and catch the mob, with the rapist, but also find the macguffin AT THE SCENE, which will then make it legally usable in court.

    However, is this a good or workable idea for a story, or is it a unnatural or illogical? Of course there is a lot more to the story than just that, but I need to know if the premise and the ending works, so I can build the rest of the story within it?

    I was told by friends that their plan to get around the fruit of the poisonous tree obstacle seems a bit ridiculous, and it may be far fetched that a woman can form an angry lynch mob, to get revenge for rape. Because usually lynch mobs are formed when someone is murdered, by rape is not enough of a motivating factor, to go out and break the law, and risk heavy prison time over, if caught.

    They said it may be more logical if the rapist killed their victims as well, but if I write it that way, then the police would take the case a lot more seriously and the community may think that a lynch mob is not needed cause the cops will much more likely catch him if it's murders and not just rapes.

    What do you think?
     
  2. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,969
    Likes Received:
    5,491
    First issue: I thought that this restriction only applied to evidence illegally obtained by the police, not evidence illegally obtained by private citizens.

    Second issue: If the rapist is attacked by the mob, you can't really assume that the police will arrest and search him; he'll look like the victim. So how do the police come upon the thing?

    Rape isn't shoplifting or running a red light. I don't see the generation of sufficient anger as your primary problem.

    Sigh. Edited to add: I realize that this is apparently the view of your critics, not you, but all the same: Sigh.
     
    GuardianWynn likes this.
  3. Ryan Elder
    Offline

    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    1,613
    Likes Received:
    78
    When it comes to the first issue, I thought that evidence can still be considered fruit of the poisonous tree if the citizens had to commit a crime in order to get it. So evidence that is illegally obtained by private citizens, is still legally usable in court? If this is true, than how come in movies or in real life even, whenever the cops cannot get a search warrant, why don't they just call private citizens and ask them to get the evidence for them illegally, if they are not allowed?

    I thought that evidence obtained illegally by private citizens was still not allowed to be used in court. For example, I recall a case where a private citizen recorded phone conversations, but could not use them cause it was against the law to do that. Is there a difference in my scenario?

    For the second issue, the police will not have to arrest and search him, because once the mob gets their hands on the macguffin, the police will just find it with them when they arrive.

    For the third, I know rape is not shop lifting, but lynch mobs are very rare in the real world. They only form in the most extreme circumstances. Even when crooks get away with murder, like O.J. Simpson or Casey Anthony, no lynch mob formed to go after them. So it's a very hard sell, and if a lynch mob will not likely form to go after murderers, it's a tough sell, that any other crime would cause a mob to form, wouldn't it?
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2015
  4. Shadowfax
    Offline

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,520
    Likes Received:
    1,345
    The problem that I've got is how the lynch mob KNOWS it's him. If they know it's him, why isn't their evidence ("He raped me, your honour") good enough to convict? ("I've got a VERY good alibi, your honour. I was with you at the time."?)

    Most rapes rely, ultimately, upon the jury believing the victim rather than the rapist as to the motivation ("Was she asking for it? Did she just cry rape afterwards when he wouldn't agree to marry her?")
     
  5. Ryan Elder
    Offline

    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    1,613
    Likes Received:
    78
    Okay thanks. The lynch mob actually does not know him. He raped the woman while wearing a mask, gloves, etc. And then erased his own physical evidence of the crime after. She later does her own investigating, which includes things like breaking and entering, etc, to find out who the man was later. So she only knows him by investigating.
     
  6. Shadowfax
    Offline

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,520
    Likes Received:
    1,345
    But how does she know which man's property to break into? Or does she break into everybody's on the chance that she'll find the perpetrator's property before she gets caught herself, and the chance that he'll have left incriminating evidence around for her to find?

    And, by "erased his own physical evidence", he extracts his sperm from her vagina?
     
  7. Ryan Elder
    Offline

    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    1,613
    Likes Received:
    78
    Yes actually she does know him to a degree, but in movies a lot of times, the villain makes himself look like the innocent person and makes the innocent person look like the guilty one, to the cops. In Dial M For Murder (1954), for example, Grace Kelly's character kept telling the cop that she killed in self defense, but the cop kept pointing out all sorts of things that he didn't believe, like how she could have caused her own bruises. It seems to me that if I take that approach, and have the cops knock down everything the victim says with reasonable doubt, then perhaps I can make it believable in a similar way to that movie. Of course the villain will have to make himself look innocent in the crime, which I am still working on.

    He uses a condom, and would have to get rid of any remaining DNA, with bleach or something of that sort, if that works.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2015
  8. GuardianWynn
    Offline

    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2014
    Messages:
    2,088
    Likes Received:
    672
    To answer the first issue. People have a right of privacy against the police and agents of the police. If a man broke into your home to steal evidence because a police officer asked him too then it is not usable.

    If a thief robs your safe and finds money and a tape. A tape with evidence to your guilt and turns that tape to the police it is fair use. People have no right against people. The right against unfair search and seizure is for the people from the government.

    Edited to add: Sometimes when this happens though the person in this case the thief has to step forward which can get him in trouble too.
    Law and Order SVU deals with this issue really well in one EP. Can't remember the name though
     
  9. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,649
    Likes Received:
    5,131
    The fruit of the poison tree doctrine only applies to state agents. If a private citizen was working for a police officer (ie. your example of the officer calling the citizen and asking them to obtain the evidence) the private citizen would be considered an agent of the state for that action. The private citizen might open himself up to criminal charges of the evidence was obtained through crime, of course.
     
  10. Ryan Elder
    Offline

    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    1,613
    Likes Received:
    78
    Okay thanks. I am surprised that private citizens are allowed to turn in evidence though, through illegal means, and the evidence can still be used. Perhaps my idea for an ending is flawed then. Basically she finds out where the macguffin may be through phone tapping, and then has to go to the location, break in, and steal it. So if she can just give it to the police and it can be admissible, compared to if a cop does it, then I guess my ending does not work. I am trying to think of other ideas I can use. What if a cop was off duty, and does it on their own, while off the job? Since they are off duty, are they a private citizen and can break in and steal evidence that can be used, or are they still considered a cop, off duty or not, suspended or not, etc?
     
  11. Dunning Kruger
    Offline

    Dunning Kruger Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2014
    Messages:
    205
    Likes Received:
    128
    My gut is you have a flawed concept. Rape is a highly emotional subject and I think in fiction usually requires an emotional response for the audience to feel satisfied. But you seem to be going with a logical approach almost like Murder She Wrote or The Sting. Writers have figured out how to do this for murder but I dont think that works for rape. Related to that, mobs arent usually logical either. I would consider using a different crime.
     
  12. Ryan Elder
    Offline

    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    1,613
    Likes Received:
    78
    Okay thanks. I plan on wanting that emotional response from the audience too as well. I definitely do not want to avoid it. When you say writers have to figure out how to it for murder, but it likely won't work for rape, why is that exactly? It seems to me, that it could if done in a certain way, or can it not be done under any circumstance?
     
  13. Ryan Elder
    Offline

    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    1,613
    Likes Received:
    78
    Also I am inspired by the movie M, and it's lynch mob tone, so isn't that movie in itself pretty dark and emotional and can generate a higher emotional response compared to Murder, She Wrote, or The Sting?
     
  14. Shadowfax
    Offline

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,520
    Likes Received:
    1,345
    A lynch mob is usually angry, outraged, and generally into taking the law into its own hands. Frequently it's racist, sexist or some other kind of xenophobic. It's not usually logical, and it usually reacts promptly to whatever offends it.

    Rape victims are frequently seriously damaged, and frequently suffer from the impression that they were at fault. The realisation that it was a crime committed against them by the perpetrator usually comes later, and that isn't enough to cause the fury that would provoke the "lynch mob" mentality.
     
  15. Ryan Elder
    Offline

    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    1,613
    Likes Received:
    78
    Okay thanks. If rape isn't enough on it's own to cause a lynch mob to form, what if I wrote it so that one of the victims was murdered?
     
  16. Shadowfax
    Offline

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,520
    Likes Received:
    1,345
    Again, it's the speed of the mob forming and taking out their mindless violence against some "easy" target...think the convicted sex offender who's just moved to town and now gets blamed for something his perversion just wouldn't have caused...but the mob's not strong on logic!

    A lynch mob has never been equated with the delivery of fairness and justice. It might make a change to have a lynch mob that actually does deliver justice - although, for credibility's sake, you might do better making this result entirely accidental!
     
  17. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,969
    Likes Received:
    5,491
    I'm not clear in all this what your goal is. Is the primary goal the lynch mob scene, and you need a reason for it to happen? Because the whole plot seems easier if you eliminate that scene, but that's pointless if the scene was the point.
     
  18. jannert
    Online

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,804
    Likes Received:
    7,320
    Location:
    Scotland
    Okay, here is a different angle. What if you wrote this as a historical thing ...back, say 100-150 years ago—when forensics wasn't at the level it is now? Beyond fingerprinting, there wasn't any other way to check DNA evidence. This might eliminate the need for condoms and rubber gloves, etc, as well. I don't know what your McGuffin is, but this might make the object easier to plant?
     
  19. Ryan Elder
    Offline

    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    1,613
    Likes Received:
    78
    Okay thanks. When you say the lynch mob scene, the lynch mob is spread over the course of the story, and not just one scene, so it's a big point in the story idea

    I don't want to set it back in the past, cause it's being written to be shot on an indie low budget, so I have to keep it modern times, since we are shooting on real city streets, and using whatever cars, locations and things like that we can have access to, through people we know.
     
  20. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,969
    Likes Received:
    5,491
    I guess I'm trying to tell what your story needs. What elements, if removed, would make you say, "Well, but then what's the point in writing it?"

    I feel that both the evidence part, and the lynch mob part, are difficult, and that making them the reason for each other is more difficult. The mob part strikes me as more plausible than the evidence part.
     
  21. tonguetied
    Offline

    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 23, 2014
    Messages:
    548
    Likes Received:
    219
    Location:
    Near Atlanta
    I am probably way off target but could you use the "flash mob" concept to gather the people at the scene where your 'macguffin' is and then direct their attention to it? I am thinking you draw in the crowd with a tie of supporting rape victims, for example, so you automatically have a group leaning towards your story's need, a little push and they explode.
     
  22. Ryan Elder
    Offline

    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    1,613
    Likes Received:
    78
    Okay thanks. What can I do improve the evidence part exactly, that is not convincing?
     
  23. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,969
    Likes Received:
    5,491
    The problem is the theoretical inadmissibility of the evidence. This link from Nolo suggests that that isn't accurate:

    http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/searches-private-citizens.html

    So that makes the premise of the mob, not-useful.

    Even if your main character is a cop, it would be a lot easier to get a non-cop to illegally grab the evidence, than to get a bunch of non-cops to form a mob. Either option would probably result in the evidence being inadmissible if the scheme were discovered, but a scheme involving one person seems a lot easier to hide than a scheme involving many.
     
  24. Ryan Elder
    Offline

    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    1,613
    Likes Received:
    78
    Okay thanks. The scheme is used as an afterthought, after the mob is formed. Originally the mob was formed to kill him, but then they come to their senses later, and decide that plan. But the plan goes horribly wrong, and the mob is back to kill mode later as a result.

    Even if a private citizen is allowed to steal evidence the ending can be still be very much the same I think maybe. I wouldn't have to change much, and the mob would still get the macguffin either way, it's just since the legalities of the idea may be less interesting of a conundrum to the audience now. What do you think? Do you think the ending works, and that she has to get macguffin while trying to avoid being harmed by the villain and deliver him to the cops, or is it just not as interesting without cause of the legalities not being what I thought.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2015

Share This Page