Crime Writer Resources
by Patricia Bradley
We are told to write what we know. If I did that, it would be BORING. So I write what I want to learn about. Wait, that’s not exactly accurate. I write romantic suspense that includes murder, and I really don’t want to experience murder.
Often, writers deal with topics and situations that some people might not call normal. Things like how to blow up a house, or poison someone, or how a silencer sounds, or even how to write a fight scene. I’ve accumulated a few sites and resources that I’d like to share with you.
While writing my latest Memphis Cold Case novel, Justice Delivered (releasing April 2, 2019), I needed information on human trafficking and discovered the CDC has an excellent site. Most states have organizations dedicated to eradicating human trafficking and if you’re writing about the subject, get in touch with an organization close to you. Here in Mississippi, Advocates for Freedom works tirelessly to get victims out of trafficking, and they provided me with firsthand knowledge of the subject.
Lee Lofland has a great blog to help writers get their facts straight—https://www.leelofland.com/the-graveyard-shift-blog/. Before I was published I entered my first chapter in a contest. Here’s a sentence from what I submitted: “The smell of cordite burned her eyes.” No, it wasn’t a historical mystery (cordite is no longer used in bullet-making). Thank goodness one of the contest judges told me about Lee’s blog. I have learned so much from his writing. He also has a great conference—Writer’s Police Academy. If your story deals in any way with law enforcement, this is a great conference to attend. You can find out more about it on the Facebook page.
Another favorite resource is the Crime Scene Writer forum. https://groups.io/g/Crimescenewriter2/
This forum has the best of the best and everyone on the forum is willing to help writers. Have a question about a body? Submit it to the forum and you’ll get your answer. Same thing with questions about guns, arrests, even whether police officers can keep their personal cell phones with them while on duty. Sample topics have been things like the rate the body absorbs GHB, toxicology reports, and a murder board.
The murder board brings me to another resource. Actually two. I first read about creating a murder board at The Killzone blog. There are some heavy hitters on this blog and like Lee Lofland’s blog and the Crimescene forum, the posts each day are geared to help writers. This is where I first heard about a murder board. I was floundering in my WIP and someone on the blog mentioned the board. Wow! Creating a murder board literally solved my plot problems. I was able to “see” my victim and the suspects and move them around as I needed.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention YouTube. A writer can learn anything on YouTube! I’ve watched videos showing how loud a silencer is. (Not like it’s depicted on TV, for sure!) I’ve learned about different guns and to never call a magazine a clip!
Another great resource is Carla Hoch, who is a self-defense expert. She has a great blog called Fight Right. Since I’m not an expert in fighting, it’s great to know someone who is. She has several great blogs on how to write fight scenes along with tips on terminology and footwork. In June her Writer’s Digest book, How to Write Believable Fight Scenes, releases.
Last, but not least is the Killer Nashville conference. It is awesome! Their mock crime scene is worth the cost of the conference! But beyond that, for me just rubbing elbows with people who “get” me is great. Everyone is so helpful and willing to share their knowledge. A writer can make lifelong contacts here!
I hope these resources will help you as a writer. None of them were available when I first started writing. If they had been, it would have made my writing journey easier. And remember—there has never been a better time to write and gain the knowledge you need for your stories. Now go write something wonderful!
Patricia Bradley is the author of Justice Delayed and Justice Buried, as well as the Logan Point series. Her latest title, Justice Delivered, releases April 2, 2019. Bradley won an Inspirational Readers Choice Award in Suspense, was a finalist for the Genesis Award, won a Daphne du Maurier Award, and won a Touched by Love Award. She is co-founder of Aiming for Healthy Families, Inc., and she is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. Bradley makes her home in Mississippi.
Visit her at https://ptbradley.com/