1. rybowman
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    rybowman New Member

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    I need a clever way to solve a murder

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by rybowman, Jul 3, 2010.

    Hi everyone. I need your help! I'm nearing a very crucial scene in my novel in which one of the main characters discovers that another one of the MCs is the murderer he has been looking for. The two will be in the scene together, so it will most likely have to come from either something visual or in dialogue. I have a few ideas but don't love any of them.

    I have always envisioned that the truth would be discovered in a "clever" (maybe even accidental) way. It is not a hard-boiled mystery novel by any stretch and the answer in this case is not good, old-fashioned police work or investigative methods. I'm hoping for more of an "AHA!" moment, where the murderer just says or does something that hits the cop like a ton of bricks and he knows immediately that the other MC is the murderer.

    An example of this would be the genius bar scene in Inglorious Basterds when it is discovered that one of the characters is not in fact a German, but a spy. For those who haven't seen it, it is discovered when the character holds up three fingers instead of two fingers and a thumb to indicate three drinks. Germans traditionally use two fingers and a thumb to indicate "three" while Americans/other cultures use three fingers. Simple and accurate, but extremely clever writing.

    Another example could be the scene in Gone Baby Gone when Casey Affleck discovers Ed Harris is a "bad guy". In this scene he is drunk and talks about a man that he earlier said he had never met. This is a much more basic example, but equally effective.

    If anyone has any ideas along these lines to help my MC discover the other guy's guilt, let me know. Whether it's through a piece of evidence he found earlier, something he says, etc.

    Thanks a million,
    Ryan
     
  2. theSkaBoss
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    theSkaBoss Member

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    Hard to say. We know nothing of the characters, your setting, how the murder was perpetrated, or anything, really.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Ryan, it should really be something like an inconsistency your main character didn't previously notice, but for some reason he remembers it in the climactic scene.

    Without knowing your story, I cannot offer specific suggestions. It may be a detail of the crime that the suspect could not possibly know if he was not there, or it could be some piece of evidence that invalidates an alibi, any number of possibilities.
     
  4. rybowman
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    rybowman New Member

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    Here's a little more info on the story/characters if it helps:
    1) The murderer is a teenager, the victim a cop
    2) The murder was not planned; he had a gun on him and panicked when approached by a police officer
    3) The "investigating officer" has met the teenager randomly in the course of his investigation and has actually come to like the young man
    4) The officer has never in any way considered the teenager a suspect, which makes his discovery that much more significant and shocking
    5) The entire time, the reader knows the teenager is the murderer

    Hope this helps. Any more specific questions, just ask.
    Thanks,
    Ryan
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You're missing the point. Your solution has to come down to fine details of your story, details only you will know. If WE can anticipate it, it won't be much of a mystery.
     
  6. theSkaBoss
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    theSkaBoss Member

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    Cogito speaks truth, as is his tendency. I mean, this detail might come out of the woodworks of one character's relationship with another, or from little mannerisms of the murderer, or any other number of things that only come out in the details of the writing. We'd have to know your story inside and out to be able to give you a suitable idea.
     
  7. rybowman
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    rybowman New Member

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    Cogito...I know what you're saying here. Obviously without the details of the story, you won't be able to give me much. What I'm looking for are more general ideas to get the ball rolling or help give me a fresh perspective on things. So things in your first post like "a detail of the crime that the suspect could not possibly know if he was not there, or it could be some piece of evidence that invalidates an alibi" are good. It may just take a general idea to lead me to something more specific, which I can tie in to the details and context of my story. Thanks
     
  8. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Okay general ideas...

    He has some sort of physical indicator that marks him as the murderer. I've heard of cases that came down to proving someone was innocent or guilty based on a physical abnormality that affected how the murder was committed.

    Some sort of inconsistency. As in he shares something on accident with the cop that only the murderer and investigators would know.

    Perhaps he asks something suspicious like how someone died when he's told they died rather than who died. Generally when someone says "There was a murder out by such and such place" people ask "Who was it?" not "How did they die?" How did they die suggests the person is fishing for information because they want to make sure their tracks are covered.

    He does something in a way that is specific to the murderer. For example if he killed him with an ax he's out chopping wood and the cop notices the angle he swings it at is the same as the angle the cuts were on the victim.

    Hope some of that helps. Read some murder mysteries or read about real crimes. Criminal minds is kinda gory but a very good show to get ideas like that from. They profile killers. They use clues on how a murder was committed to tell them who may have done it.
     
  9. jacklondonsghost
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    jacklondonsghost Contributing Member

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    Try reading some of the Encyclopedia Brown children's mystery books. They were short little tales (a few pages long) in which a kid detective would try and solve a small mystery. In the end he would tell what had happened/who the guilty party was, and then the book would ask you "How did he know this?" It was always some clever little inconsistancy just like you mentioned was in Inglorious Basterds.

    Even though they're written for young kids, I think they could help you generate some ideas or at least help you think outside the box with this a little.
     
  10. JTheGreat
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    JTheGreat Contributing Member

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    This reminds me a bit of the case in To Kill a Mockingbird. The supposed victim was accusing an African American man for rape and assault, but the way the bruises on her face indicated they'd had to be done by a left-handed person, and earlier in the trial the lawyer (Atticus) made the victim's father sign a sheet, and he signed with his left hand. The possibility that the victim's father was framing the other guy was further supported by the fact that the African American man's left hand had been crippled since he was a child.

    Go for something like that, or like what TerraIncognita said.
     
  11. hoist
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    hoist Member

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    /e-five for To Kill a Mockingbird reference

    Mysteries are tough to write, but maybe I can at least throw a couple thoughts your way! Couldn't write one to save my life, but I'm a criminology major, and a few of my professors would mention times where they caught someone with a verbal trip-up.

    Like say,

    - In a conversation about the murder weapon, the teen lets slip some minor detail about guns that one would only know from having fired one. If the teen is trying to cover his delicates by helping out with the investigation, I could see this one.
    - Alternatively, some characteristic about the murdered cop?
    - Situation repeats itself, at least vaguely. The detective accidentally surprises the teen and teen reacts as if ready to become violent.


    From what I understand, it's easier to write these things "backwards"... start with that little detail that comes down like a ton of bricks, and then build characters and a plot around that. It's all a little much for me, personally. :)
     
  12. Legacy1306
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    Legacy1306 Senior Member

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    I read this short story once about a musician who's diary had been stolen, though in the story they refer to it as a "record" on purpose. When the musician is talking to his manager, he brings up that he has a copy of the "record" that for the manager, that the manager might be able to identify the theif based on its contents. At this point, the reader knows that it is a written record, but the manager shouldn't, as the musician has given no indication of such. Being a musician, the record would more likely be a musical record, yes? The musician begins to rummage through his bag for the copy of the journal, when the manager puts on his glasses. That is when the musician realizes that it was the manager, because otherwise the manager would not have known it was a journal, and you don't need glasses to listen to music. they converse relating to putting on the glasses, during which the manager feels cornered and reveals that he stole the journal to sell it online.
     
  13. Fantasy of You
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    Fantasy of You Banned

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    93% of all murder cases are solved through analysing semen left at the scene of the crime. I'd go with that.
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    And the moral of that is, if you are going to murder someone, use a weapon that is not a body part. Especially that one.
     
  15. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Or, if you're going to use a body part as a weapon, use someone else's.
     
  16. Fantasy of You
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    Fantasy of You Banned

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    The success rate for the prosecution would make a great commercial for condoms.
     
  17. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Spiked condoms? Generic blunt force trauma condoms? Serrated condoms?
     
  18. Mantha Hendrix
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    Mantha Hendrix Contributing Member

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    Now THAT would be a horrible way to kick the bucket.
     
  19. AdamWriting
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    AdamWriting Member

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    I always liked the way the murder was solved in the First Deadly Sin. It started with an unusual wound, then they figured out the weapon, then they hunted down all the places the weapon could have been purchased (since it was unique), then, using the merchant's customer list, they kept narrowing down the list to a handful of suspects.
     
  20. Auty
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    Auty New Member

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    How about, well watching things such as CSI (crime scene investigation) programmes helps alot i once saw one where they figured out who had fired the gun by finding gun powder underneath the persons finger nails. just an idea
     
  21. Jane Beryl
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    Jane Beryl Member

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    If this were a sexual case that would make sense...

    I think 93% of all murder cases are solved through analysing dna like semen has. -_-
     

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