his week on the Writer's Detective Bureau. Interview dialogue, and a cozy missing person turned murder mystery. I'm Adam Richardson and this is the Writer's Detective Bureau.
Welcome to episode 82 of the Writer's Detective Bureau, the podcast dedicated to helping authors and screenwriters write professional quality crime-related fiction. And this week I'm answering your questions about how to make the dialogue in your interview scenes more believable, and how best to tackle a missing person turned murder case as a cozy. But first, I need to thank my Gold Shield patrons, Debra Dunbar, from debradunbar.com, C.C. Jameson, from ccjameson.com, Larry Keeton, Vicki Tharp, at vickitharp.com, Chrysann, Larry Darter, Natalie Barelli of nataliebarelli.com, and Craig Kingsman of craigkingsman.com for their support. I also want to send a huge thank you to my Silver Cuff-link and Coffee Club patrons as well. You can find links to all of the writers supporting this episode in the show notes at writersdetective.com/82. And to learn about setting up your own Patreon account for your author business, or to support the show for as little as $2 per month, visit writersdetective.com/Patreon. P-A-T-R-E-O-N.
And before I get to this week's questions, I want to wish Joan Raymond of joanraymondwritinganddesign.com a very happy birthday. Joan was my very first patron on Patreon, and she was kind enough to invite me to speak at the Writers of Kern Annual Conference later this month. Hopefully the coronavirus doesn't hamper the conference plans, because I've already booked my hotel room and I'm looking forward to the drive up to finally meet Joan in person, on the streets of Bakersfield. Wait, that didn't come out right. So my talk for the conference is titled, Interviewing like a Detective, which, as luck would have it, dovetails nicely into this week's first question.
Craig Kingsman, of craigkingsman.com, who happens to be one of my Gold Shield patrons, asked this in the Facebook group. Craig wrote, "Police interviews are a weak point in my writing. Can anyone recommend any resources to help me learn how to get this right?" Craig, you are not alone. It is a daunting task to try to boil down what is, for us, the detectives, a several-hour round of verbal chess and to do that into just few pages, while also keeping it captivating and believable, that's a very tall order.
But before I go into answering your question, I want to share what Harry Harris, a member of our Facebook group, and also a recently-retired detective from London, England wrote. Harry writes, "Detectives in the UK use a particular model that I will explain. It may help. This model is effective for catching out inconsistencies in a suspect's story.
First phase is where you allow a full recall of events. No questions, unless to clarify something said. Second phase is where you will take their account and split it into subjects to probe, i.e., "You said you were in the Dog and Duck pub. Tell me, who else was in? Who was behind the bar? Who can confirm you were there?" Etc. We're now really committing them to their story. This phase can be lengthy. The final phase is a challenge phase. Now is the time to shoot their story out of the water by putting the evidence to them. "An eye witness puts you at the crime scene." "Your fingerprint was found on the knife." "You are on CCTV." If a suspect has been talking, they will now most likely be going, "no comment". In reality, most suspects maintain no comment throughout, so you would quickly go through the model and get to the challenge quickly. In UK law, we can hold an inference of guilt on a suspect who fails to account for evidence against them. This ultimately is a tool for the jury to help them deliberate. Hope this is of some help."
Well, Harry is spot on with his suggestions, but here in the US... Continue reading...
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