1. NotARealWriter

    NotARealWriter New Member

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    Research for writing a modern crime story involving murder or terrorism

    Discussion in 'Research' started by NotARealWriter, Jul 23, 2018.

    Hello! I am interested in writing a story that could go one of two ways. The first one is about a detective. More specifically, a police procedural and as such I would like to do some research on some things, such as:

    • Poisons,
    • Guns,
    • Police procedure,
    • Law,
    • Police/detective training and selection,
    • Police/detective techniques,
    • Probably others I'm forgetting/don't know about now.
    Otherwise, if I decide to write a story that involves terrorism, I'd like to learn more about:
    • Explosives (duh),
    • Police protocol for terrorism situations,
    • Special forces techniques, procedures and training,
    • Probably others I'm forgetting/don't know about now.
    First of all, I know I could find all of this online, but that would take a lot of time and I would have to read a bunch of stuff I don't care about. I would probably miss a lot as well.
    So, I imagine I'm not the only one that ever wanted to do this, so the question:
    Is there a book oriented to writes that want to start up in this genres, such as this: https://www.amazon.com/Deadly-Doses-Writers-Poisons-Howdunit/dp/0898793718, but maybe a bit more abarcative that would include a few more topics? Anything counts.
    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin The bastards hung me in the spring of '25.... Contributor

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    Internet research is too hard and time consuming? Thank God you don't have to do the real thing, huh?
     
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  3. Jenissej

    Jenissej Professional Lurker Supporter Contributor

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    Have to agree with @Homer Potvin, internet research is about the easiest way to access information there is today.
    But if you want to skip having to dig through heaps of irrelevant information, I'd suggest you go ask someone who's been there, done that (no, not a terrorist). You could go to your local police station and ask them whether it's possible to arrange for an interview with a detective. Law enforcement agencies will often have press contacts listed on their websites which you could write to with your request and if they're interested and you're not asking for anything classified, you may get valuable first-hand information.
     
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  4. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Has the Vocabulary of a Well-Educated Sailor. Supporter Contributor

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    I use interviews a lot in my research, but I doubt a 20-30 minute interview (which would be what someone would be likely to get, because, you know, busy fighting crime and all) would be enough to cover what’s needed to write a police procedural. That wouldn’t even be enough research to write a fairly short non-fiction article. Plus, to do a good interview requires researching the subject enough beforehand to ask intelligent questions so you get usable information.

    And I’m not sure about the OP’s patience level for transcribing the interview into usable information (when I interview someone it takes an average of 2-3 x the length of the interview to transcribe it, and I’m a fast typist).

    To the OP: why are you writing a book that’s a “police procedural” if you don’t care enough about the subject to take time to learn about it?
     
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  5. Jenissej

    Jenissej Professional Lurker Supporter Contributor

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    Good point, I hadn't even thought about that. But of course, it's true. If OP asked me what the state of the necrophagous insects on a corpse would be after three days, I'd ask what species, cause of death, climate, weather conditions, inside or outside, covered, uncovered? and a dozen more questions, then whip out a chart to look it up. I fear there is no such thing as a Complete and Comprehensible Guide to Crime. (There are practitioner's guides to several of the topics you asked about but I think once you see the prices on these things, you'll revise your opinion on internet research.)
     
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  6. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Has the Vocabulary of a Well-Educated Sailor. Supporter Contributor

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    Exactly. A good interview should spur more questions, and as interviewer you have to be prepared for whatever the interviewee throws out, or you're wasting the interviewee's time and doing them a disservice by not representing their profession accurately. (Not to mention interviewees who like to "test" the interviewer to see how well they've done their research.) Most interviewees want to be helpful, but the interviewer has to do their part.
     
  7. NotARealWriter

    NotARealWriter New Member

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    I don't imagine you do a lot of it since you didn't even read the whole paragraph. Here:
    Also, literally anything today can be learned with internet research. I guess that's why (text)books don't exist anymore. Oh, wait...
    Oh, and you also missed my signature. Thank God they don't exist anymore either, huh?
    That would be awesome. I've tried to do that. However, detectives don't seem to be that interested where I live. Most I could get so far are slow-paced email conversations. I, of course, will keep trying, it's not easy though.
    The best way would be to shadow a detective for a few whole cases I suppose. I don't think that's gonna happen. Not enough crime nor willing detectives around for that.
    I would have the patience. I never got the chance though.
    For the question: I do care, but not that much. If I did, I would not be writing about it, I would be being it. The reason why I'm writing about it? I like crime stories, but I don't like BS stories that never explain what really happens. I like to have science and reality behind the stories I read and write. This is a whole new "field" for me and I'd like a good introduction to it other than internet research, as I usually do. This particular area is just a bit broad and finding lots of good information in one place has proven to be difficult.
    Really? The one about poison is $25. That's not so much. Digital editions would be a lot cheaper as well I imagine. Used versions are going for $10 give or take.
    So, do you know any or you are speaking out of past experiences with similar books about other topics?

    Thanks everyone for replying and sorry for the long post.
     
  8. Jenissej

    Jenissej Professional Lurker Supporter Contributor

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    I guess it depends on how much you're willing to pay. 25$ for a book on poisons may be okay but you'll need much more than the one and I doubt you'll find a writer's guide for each of the topics you mentioned. Practitioner's guides are aimed at professionals in the field and can easily reach the 200$ mark. Especially in law.
     
  9. NotARealWriter

    NotARealWriter New Member

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    Of course, of course.
    I have been finding a bunch of interesting websites:
    I think I'm gonna start with that for now. There are links to pretty cool books, some of them are free.
     
  10. Stormsong07

    Stormsong07 Living in my own little world Contributor

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    A bit off topic, but I'm really not sure what you mean by "abarcative"? Google tells me it's not a word...at least, not an English one, and I have no idea what you mean.
     
  11. NotARealWriter

    NotARealWriter New Member

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    Sorry. That's my spanglish kicking in. I meant comprehensive.
     
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