1. Berenice
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    Berenice Member

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    Plot and Crime Subplot - Help Please!

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Berenice, Oct 13, 2011.

    Hi,

    I need unbiased input ;-)

    I have a novel which has a main plot revolving around a very problematic ("forbidden love") romance. One of the MCs works with the police. The other MC is a witness to an ongoing series of crimes (though she learns only mid-novel that she is a witness).

    I have one sub-plot which deals with one of the problems the two forbidden lovers face, that one is just fine.

    BUT - I also have the much more important sub-plot which deals with the crime the male character is solving in his day-job. And I am not really into whodunnits. I like reading them, but I never though of myself as someone capable of creating riddles. This one just happened beause the police job fit the male character.

    So, there is a serial rapist at large in that fairly big town who also kills his victims when he discovers they have looked at him (and could describe him). He kills quickly, the rapes are executed in a horrid mannerand have the whole police force enraged and up in arms to find him fast. The male character's (forbidden) girlfriend unwittingly witnesses one of these rape cases and the rapist will learn about her being able to not just describe him, but also to stand witness in court against him. The climax of the novel is first the consumption of their relationship and resolve to stay together, and then the rapist will set out to kill the female MC. They'll be barely able to rescue her.

    So far so good, the problem is that a) this has been done quite often in a variety of stories, so would the readers dislike such a plotline for being too common? And b) I can think of no twists or red herrings I can weave in. Do I really need them? Does it have to be someone they all know (except for her)? Can it be a total stranger? Would that shave off too much suspense?

    What are your thoughts and ideas?
     
  2. James Berkley
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    James Berkley Banned

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    Ok not a who done it reader. But I do read a few policing books and have had the great fun of dealing with detectives occasionally. I am assuming the male hero is a detective, and not a profiler or forensics.
    As far as twists,
    Could have a really clean killer. He leaves no forensic evidence of any sorts. Most likely this is already true
    Perhaps his killing style points them in the wrong direction. Perhaps the killer uses a poison, or cuts them between the 2nd and 3rd vertebrate. Or attack the vagus nerve. Now each of these methods have a certain character you would expect to use this, then have him be someone totally different.
    Second thought for a twist. Maybe she handles the rapist just fine by herself. Bonus points if she shoots him. Even more bonus points if he is one of those anti gun cops. Remember Ruger can be a girl’s best friend.
    Third though, how does he find out she saw him. Did he see her see him?
     
  3. Berenice
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    Berenice Member

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    Hi,

    thanks forthe suggestions :)

    As this is a British setting she won't have any weapons and while tough she can't fight off a man physically. OK, I might have her go for martial arts, but that MC isn't really the kind who would. As to the male, he is recording crime scenes, so not exactly a detective and also not forensics. The woman connects two so far unconnected facts and then knows who the killer is. This gets spread on the newspaper while hunting for him and the killer knows it can only be her who provided that knowledge.

    Re the killer, he doesn't set out to kill, he wants to rape without consequences, and yes, he wears condoms and protective clothing. That thought about a special killing method which would point at a particular kind of killer is great!
     
  4. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    No. Seems like a good plot to me as long as you do it well. Everything has been done to some degree before. As long as you aren't copying word for word another story you are fine.

    Hmmm... well I don't know the specifics of the story. But here are a few possibilities:

    1. There are multiple victims right? So perhaps there is something they have in common (by coincidence). Maybe they all shop at the same grocery store where some "creepy guy" is known to hang around. Said guy has gotten complaints from the store manager filed with the police... including security video of him hanging around the store, but he wasn't there any of the times someone was raped/killed (or maybe he was on one of them and that ends up being what gets them off that trail). And really you can do the "something in common" bit multiple ways to find a "red herring" criminal.

    2. Perhaps they flat out find DNA/fingerprint evidence at one of the scenes, overwhelming evidence (no alibi... criminal history... maybe a photo of him running a red light going in the direction of the victim). And so they think he's the guy, but then it turns out that he just killed/raped just the one victim and the serial rapist/killer is someone else.

    3. Perhaps they happen to find a guy that coincidentally was at all of the scenes. Perhaps they find cigarette butts with the same persons DNA right across the street of every house where something happened. Or maybe witnesses saw the same vehicle at all of the scenes. You can spend a chapter or two writing about their efforts to catch this guy, but then it turns out that he's a reporter that somehow knows who is going to be the next victim before the cops know. And you could play this idea multiple ways: A) Maybe he knows something the police don't but didn't want to tell the police until he was sure and when they exchange information it eventually leads to the break in the case they were looking for. B) Maybe the rapist/killer is tipping him off in an attempt to frame him. C) someone else knows but is afraid of telling the police so they tell this reporter.

    4. They spot a guy leaving one of the scenes the night after it happen. The police chase him down, he runs... they eventually catch him. Obviously this makes them think he was involved but it turns out he's just some creep on the streets that ran because he didn't like cops (although it takes a while for them to finally clear him).

    This last idea really isn't an idea, but just... one of my favorite "red herring" misdirects is when you have a guy that really pisses the cops off. Someone being really uncooperative and acting like he's better/smarter than the police. Almost taunting the police to try and catch him when they have no viable evidence to charge him. And then obviously later on in the story it turns out that he actually didn't do it. I think this "idea" would work best with idea #2 I wrote up there because the guy actually IS guilty of something, but it works really well because he's not going to say "hey, I only killed one person... I'm not a serial killer!" And you could probably go almost the whole story with people thinking he's the serial killer when in reality he only killed on of the people.
     
  5. Berenice
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    Berenice Member

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    Hi Agentkirb,

    thanks for your suggestions. Indeed it is 3-C which would work off very nicely and get a reporter involved, and indeed - the reporter could be mistaken for the rapist and at the same time his articles might lead the rapist to the female MC. Yep - fantastic idea and even works well with the special killing method James suggested :-D
     
  6. James Berkley
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    James Berkley Banned

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    Yeah UK takes legal guns out of the picture.
    Hope the rest helps. I can think of a few ways/ weapons that could indicate things, but I am shore you have ones of your own.
    Ok one last idea, if you will bear with me. Don’t know if you have a killer already but maybe its one of the cops/forensics/ medical examiners/ crime scenes unit. That would have him having an idea at scene sterilization, and maybe at throwing of the rest.
     
  7. Berenice
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    Berenice Member

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    Guys - Perfect!

    You've solved my problem, I have now a killer which will be hard to guess for the readers :) Gee, what a bit of detached input can solve in a sec, and I having been going over that in circles for a week ;-)
     
  8. Remes_H
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    Remes_H Member

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    Well, if you want a twist, I think there's one obvious point of interest. You said the female main witnessed the rapist. That to me makes a pretty open shut case. So if she just reports to the police the evident would be at least sufficient to warrant an arrest. So why doesn't she just report to the police? Perhaps the rapist was someone she knows?

    As for overused plot, I don't think your story is too familiar to me. You should worry more about execution than whether is derivatives. All arts are.
     
  9. Berenice
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    Berenice Member

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    Oh, witnessing something doesn't mean that you would report it automatically to the police, even if you don't know the perpetrator. And she doesn't initially. She wants nothing to do with the police. I do have the needed twist by now, a combination of what James and agentkirb said has been very helpful to finding a really good one, and it led to several further subplot strands which will fit in perfectly.

    :)
     

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