1. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Is it okay to leave this part of my plot unexplained?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Ryan Elder, Jun 1, 2016.

    It's a suspense thriller type story, and in it, a woman is avoiding be subpoenaed to testify in a felony court case, but she does not want to get involved. So the prosecutor has her arrested with a material witness warrant to secure her testimony. After spending a few hours in custody, the prosecutor orders her to be released, since he thinks he made his point, and wants to be able go home to her own bed for the night, since her testimony date is next the day.

    The investigating cop on the case offers, to give her a ride back home. Other villains who are accomplices of the defendant, but unbeknownst to the police, are waiting her, for when she comes home. I wrote it so that the cop gives her a ride, cause I wanted the cop to get caught in the crossfire between her and the villains in the process.

    However, my plot dilemma, is that I have no explanation as to how the villains new she was subpoenaed to testify, no more than one day later. How could they have found out that she was not only arrested on a material witness warrant and subpoenaed, but released the same day as well, so they could wait for her at her place, only hours later?

    There are several fiction books and movies though, where villains will show up by surprise, to make attempts on other characters lives. Should I just keep it a mystery to the reader like those, or is this something that has to be explained do you think?
     
  2. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    If the villains don't know that she was arrested on the material witness warrant, it doesn't matter that they don't know that she has been released.

    As long as they know (or have reason to believe) that she will one day - perhaps tomorrow, perhaps later - testify against them, they can be presumed to have planned her "elimination" so they just happen to be at her place when she turns up in the police car. Although I would have thought it likely that they would have waited for her to enter her property (so you need the cop to walk her into her house - "Let's just check you're safe") before trying to kill her, rather than deliberately start a fire-fight in the street.

    My only quibble might be would be whether the police would actually send her home if they thought her elimination was a likelihood. So maybe include something where the cop in charge hand-waves this risk as being scare-mongering, or he tells them they don't have the budget to run protection, or...
     
  3. Wayjor Frippery
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    Wayjor Frippery Contributing Member

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    Hi @Ryan Elder, the best thrillers are like jigsaw puzzles where all the pieces fit to make an unexpected picture. So yes, I would say that anything that happens in a thriller should have a plausible explanation.

    Having said that, keep in mind that reading for pleasure is primarily an emotional experience, not a logical one. There should be something that causes the reader to suspend disbelief and not ask sticky questions of your plot, but the explanations don't necessarily need to stand up to forensic scrutiny. It's the emotional roller-coaster that drives a thriller (and provides the enjoyment), not the logical connections.
     
  4. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks.

    Well the thing is is that the woman is actually a member of the gang, but the cops do not know this and believe she is a witness to one of their crimes. What they don't know is, is that she was actually a participant in the crime, but she has passed herself off as a witness to avoid being theorized by the police as a participant.

    So the gang would not kill off one of their own members, unless they has reason to believe that that member might have talked, or might be a threat. They wouldn't think she was a threat before being arrested and subpoenaed would they? I would think they would not be willing to go after one of their own, until after being subpoenaed. She was avoiding being subpoenaed since she is loyal to them, but it's not until she is arrested, that they subpoena her.

    But let's say they go after her, not knowing she has been subpoenaed. The fact that they would show up on the night before she is suppose to testify, and they do not know she is suppose to testify the next day, makes it a big coincidence, doesn't it? If they know she is, it's not a coincidence, since they have motive to do it on that night particularly, but if they do not know, than isn't it too much of a coincidence?

    I already have something else happening in the plot for that night, so if they show up not even knowing she is testifying the next day, if feels like a double coincidence therefore.

    As for the police sending her home without protection, I was told by some others that the police would not give a witness protection, if the witness refused to cooperate and give any statments, which is what she did. Even though she is subpoenaed, I was told that the police would not give protection to an uncooperative witness, unless it was am immediate 911 emergency. What do you think?
     
  5. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    OK, she's a gang member, and not going to be eliminated.

    But it's going to be quite credible for another gang member to check up on her. There's another job planned; she got hurt on the last job and needs some discreet medical care; she's the moll for another gang member, who just drops in on his girl-friend.
     
  6. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    They can check up on her, but since she the court wants her for a witness, she will be on the police's radar. And they wouldn't use her for a job, knowing this and have her law low, wouldn't they? But even if the check up on her without the police knowing, she will tell them that she didn't tell the police anything, even though she was subpoenaed. But she would ease their minds probably. Is there a way I can write it, where they feel they have to get rid of her, or at least find out what she told the police, by force, so the cop gets caught in the crossfire?

    If another gang member just came that night to check up on her, the cop will not be alarmed. He will just think the person is some friend, checking up. Is it possible to get the cop alarmed with a crossfire situation?
     
  7. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    1/ How does the gang know anything about the sub-poena?

    Because she's girl-friend to a gang-member.

    So, he's gone around to see her, lets himself in, finds her out...and then the cop walks her into her place "just to see you safely home" and the boy-friend goes ape. "What you doing bringing guys around when I'm not here to keep an eye on you?" Then your only problem is how the cop gets out with his life - you can have the girl-friend beaten up afterwards if that helps the plot.
     
  8. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you stop thinking in terms of: everyone who works for the police, the courts and the D.A.'s office are good people who believe in justice above all... the answer becomes obvious.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2016
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  9. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. One idea I had is that the the gang member who was arrested... His lawyer is made aware of the new witness who has been subpoenaed, on his list, tells his client about it, and then the client somehow tells the rest of the gang while in custody maybe, or maybe the lawyer could, but tell them, but I don't know if I see that character doing that though.]

    Plus would the lawyer be aware of a new witness that soon after being subpoenaed?
     
  10. Sack-a-Doo!
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    I don't know a lot about law, but going by what I've seen on TV <smirk>:

    Even if he's in jail, communication with the outside can be through visitors or a phone call or even the jailhouse grapevine.

    And yes, a defense lawyer has to be made aware of everything the prosecution does. It's called disclosure. (I got this bit of info from My Cousin, Vinny. Great scene, too.).
     
  11. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Yep for sure. I know the prosecution has to make the defense aware. However, this would only be a couple of hours after the subpoena, that she goes home, I am guessing at most, and would the defense be made aware that soon, to tell the guy in jail, who can then communicate with his associates to go to her house and intercept her, to find out what she knows, when she is driven home.

    Can the gang find out this fast and intercept, that is, and would the prosecution bother to make the defense aware that fast?
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2016
  12. Sack-a-Doo!
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    You've hit the limit of my knowledge in this area, Ryan.

    But I'm sure you can find a way for events to transpire the way you want them to. No rule says you have to be 100% accurate and if you try, it might just drive you off the deep end.
     
  13. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. After going over the story, it occurred to me that the prosecution would not only have to make the defense aware of the new witness, but he would also have to tell him that the witness is no longer under arrest. That way, the gang will know to look out for her, at her house. But would the prosecution tell the defense that?
     

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