1. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    What would my main character do in this case?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Ryan Elder, Oct 4, 2015.

    In my story, a woman is under protective custody, because she is a witness, testifying against her kidnappers, who the court is anxious to put away because of their past murders. So they are willing to give her protective custody.

    One night, they assign four officers to protect her. She knows the main character officer more than the others, cause the others are more new this night. One of them she has not met before but she recognizes his voice as one of the kidnappers voices, when she was abducted.

    She tells the main character officer, in private, that she recognizes his voice and he is one if the captors. The MC is alarmed by this and thinks he may have gotten on on this job of protecting her, with the intention of harming her, since he switched shifts with another officer, and just recently got assigned to this job.

    Now what would the MC do? Would he decide to arrest the suspect cop, without telling the other cops, and then explain the situation to the other cops, after the suspect cop is already in cuffs? Or would he tell the other cops, before so they can all arrest the one cop together?

    Or would the MC not fully trust the other two cops either, just in case they may be in on it as well. What do you think?
     
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    You're assuming that the voice identification would be enough for an arrest at all. I wouldn't count on that.

    Edited to add: In a study at this link:

    http://musicandspeech.voices.wooster.edu/the-reliability-of-ear-witness-testimony-changes-bolded/

    people tested picked the correct voice, from a choice of four, 55% of the time. That's double what they'd get by sheer chance, but it seems pretty bad for trial evidence.
     
  3. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    But wouldn't it be enough for a temporary arrest, just to get him out of the house so the witness is safe? They wouldn't take it to trial of course, just from her voice ID alone, but they wouldn't want him to stick around and keep guarding her. Even if the officers tried to get him leave by saying he has been transferred, if he was the kidnapper and he is there to kill the witness by chance, him being told he is transferred could cause him to retaliate and he may kill the witness and possibly the other officers therefore.

    So they cannot tell him he has been taken off or transferred to another duty for the night. The MC has to draw his gun to try to get him to surrender first, for the safety of the witness. So it's just a temporary arrest to keep the witness safe.
     
  4. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you want a scene of a cop arresting a cop, I think you need a better reason.
     
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  5. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. So a witness identifying a cop as her kidnapper and the fact that that person she identified is watching her for a whole night shift, is not a good enough reason at all? What if the MC made his own judgement because he is not the type that likes ID'd kidnappers watching over their former hostages?

    Could this work in favor of the scene because when the MC decides to temporarily detain the suspect officer, the other officers can then disagree with him and possibly intervene, which coul make for some more suspense?

    So perhaps the MC, being different than the average officer when it comes to how good of a reason you need, can cause more suspense with the other officers?
     
  6. Thornesque
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    Thornesque Contributing Member

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    I think it's more likely that the MC would make an effort to get the other police officer on separate duty from watching a victim on a night shift. There's a lot of politics that goes into this - even the most moral of cops would hesitate to say outwardly accuse another officer of a crime without hard evidence.
     
  7. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. However, the MC is not going to want to go his whole shift, while protecting the witness from the officer, as well as anyone willing to attack the safe house, who may be after. The MC just already has enough on his plate, for this shift, and figures he might as well kindly explain to the officer, that she witness identified, and he is just going to arrest him for 24 hours for questioning. The police are allowed to do that, and his reason is to get him away from the safe house for the night, and take 24 hours to resolve it. He's not really accusing him or getting him charged with a crime, he is just detaining him for a short time, so the other officer really has nothing to worry about if innocent.

    I could also write it so that the witness keeps panicking about it, if that would urge him more? I could also write it so that the MC's superiors tell him that keeping the witness alive for this case is extremely important, and if you have to, make arrests and ask questions later, if she may be in danger.

    So following that type or order, he can do what his superiors told him, and make an arrest and ask questions later. Mainly, I would like the MC to detain him for questioning for this part of the plot, so if necessary, what can I do to turn the MC into the type of cop that would make a temporary arrest in this case? Perhaps I just need to rewrite him so he's that type of character, who does not take chances, even if politics are against him.
     
  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    This feels like a scene that you think that you badly need, but I wonder if you do.
     
  9. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Well I can't get rid of a scene, based on the assumption that the MC would not do something, just because of a generalization that all cops act the same. It's somewhat common for officers to overstep boundaries or misjudge situations, so I can't have every cop character act the same in a situation. Before I am comfortable getting rid of a scene sequences entirely, I need a reason for the MC not to do something that is true to the MC himself, rather than generalization all officers as the same.
     
  10. NobodySpecial
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    NobodySpecial Active Member

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    It's a chance to ratchet up tenssions among the protectors to a new level but police dont get to detain people without evidence. I dont think a voice sounding familliar would be enough. If your witness were to notice an obscure tattoo or scar that would identify him as a member of the group believed to be responsible for the kidnapping that would be something more concrete to go on.

    There's an old saying that goes "the fish stinks from the head down". You could have your MC go to superiors for guidance and see the same mark on the superior. Giving him the realization that if hes going to protect this witness he will have to do it himself.
    Which can give you a chance to ratchet up tenssions between those two characters as well, both on professional and personal levels.

    So you have a chance to play with tenssions between the cops, the tenssions between the witness and the cops, and the MC and the witness. Thriller type stories are born of tession an you have this right in front of you.
     
  11. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. Well the kidnappers wore masks and disguises the whole time, so I don't think she would see a tattoo. What if she saw the same cop just moments before her abduction? Would this cause the MC to think that it's too big a coincidence that the same man was there, but she also recognizes the same voice?

    Then there are two things to go on. But I wrote it before that the gang is the type to not wear tattoos, because they do not like having identifiable marks, and it's part of their rules. Plus the fact that a superior would have the same tattoo shows that the group of crooks is really not smart. As for the superior being in on it, I don't want he superior to be in on it with the gang, because he has a different role to play. I could go with her recognizing a scar on the cop though. But the MC does not have time to go to the superior, since he is protecting the witness right now and cannot leave her with the other cop. So he has to make a decision to detain him that night. Is her recognizing his voice as well as seeing his face moments before the kidnapping, enough to go on?

    You said that it may give the realization to the MC that he has to protect the witness himself. What if the MC did not arrest the cop because he felt he had not enough evidence, but felt compelled to get the witness away from the cop? Mainly I need to get the MC to take off from the safe house and hide with her. So perhaps he could just leave, with the other cop there, if that makes more sense, than arresting him?
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2015
  12. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's your story. Why are you asking us?
     
  13. NobodySpecial
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    The possibilities are endless. Maybe he moves secretly moves her to another location. Maybe the bad cop uses that to say 'See? He's one of them', turning MC/good guy into MC/bad guy (in the eyes of the police, anyway) and giving him a whole new set of problems to deal with.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2015
  14. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Why have you quoted my post? None of what you say explains why the OP is asking us to make plot decisions for them.
     
  15. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    Now hold up, voices can sound very similar to the mind. Does she have other ways of identifying her former captor?
     
  16. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    She can have different ways of identifying him. It depends. I don't want to make it something which indicates that the kidnapper was dumb, like showing her his face on purpose. What about her seeing the mans face, shortly before the kidnapping, but she didn't relate the two, till now? There are other ways she can besides the voice, just so long as it doesn't make the kidnapper look illogical.
     
  17. ddavidv
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    ddavidv Contributing Member

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    Is this a scene or the basis of an entire story?

    I'd write this with 3 characters instead of 5: the witness, the good cop and the bad cop all together for one night of protective custody. Now you've got a story with real tension.
     
  18. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    It's a scene, not the basis for the entire story.

    Actually yes, I decided to just go with one good cop and one bad cop a few hours ago, you read my mind :). Thanks.
     
  19. NobodySpecial
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    NobodySpecial Active Member

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    I was watching a television show with the Mrs. last night about tracking down a kidnapping gang. There was a comment in the program that fits this question well: "They were absolutely brilliant people, good thing for us they were also criminally stupid. Otherwise we'd never be able catch them."
    Criminal types always slip up somewhere, especially if they think they're smarter than the police.
    No matter how well laid out the plan is it only takes one person to let their guard down for an instant to foul it all. It doesn't have to be anything big to give him away, it could even be some silly expression or saying he keeps repeating in a certain voice or tone. Maybe its a particular mannerism or gesture or just a combination of things. Use you imagination, put yourself in the kidnappees place. What would you notice about your captors?What would you be paying attention to?
     
  20. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. Perhaps I could use a tattoo or a scar then. How many pieces of evidence would she need to get the good cop to believe her? Like is seeing him moments before the kidnapping and recognizing the voice enough, or does she need more pieces than two? I can have more, but I don't want to have too many of course.
     
  21. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Back up a step. Why do you need this situation? What other situation would give you the same results?
     
  22. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Well I need the good cop and the witness to be on the run, from other cops, and he has to protect her, while getting to the truth, by himself. That's the desired result. I can try to think of other situations, but it seems to be that making the new cop partner out for the night shift, to be a threat, was the best way.
     
  23. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not seeing how him arresting another cop puts him on the run. How does one bad cop isolate him from the entire police department?
     
  24. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    It won't indefinitely, I just want him to be isolated for a few hours. I asked a cop and he says that he thinks it could work, cause he may not be the type to want to wake his superiors at night and wait a few hours till morning. Like maybe back up is not available to be with him for the rest of the night so he just has to suck it up, alone? Hmmm, well if that doesn't work, I would just simply like the cop to be protecting the witness alone for a few hours, if plausible.
     
  25. NobodySpecial
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    NobodySpecial Active Member

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    What and how you do it is entirely up to you. Make it fit with the flow of your story. What will it take for the kidnapee to convince good cop that one of his colleagues is bad cop? We don't know, you havent told us yet. Are you writing good cop to have that much faith in her? Are you writing good cop to have enough trust in bad cop to doubt her? Are you writing good cop to be just paranoid enough to not be willing to go to higher ups in the department for help or guidence?
    It's going to be what ever you make it. Use it to turn up or down the tension as you may need, how is the pace of the story at this part? You have a lot of room to move around with this.
     

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