Appetizer for the Crime Writer

 

If you are a true crime lover, a prolific blogger or budding author, everyone has to have a place to start. There are several considerations before you begin.  Taking a page from my presentation,“Marketing 101 for Your Crime,” I share a little of the recipe that works for me. If you are having writer’s block, or just need a way to find that new fascinating topic this could be your roadmap!

What topic is personally interesting to you?  If it fascinates you, chances are, your passion will come through and others will feel the same. You must be invested in your topic or don’t bother.

What is unique or unusual? Is everyone talking about one issue ad nauseam?  Well, that may not be your topic. It’s not mine, as such issues bring up my low tolerance for boredom. You can pave the way to being a trend setter if you find a crime that is intriguing but not well publicized.

Is it related to current events? Does it need to be related to the hot topic of the day?  At times, in the aftermath of a mass event, it is appropriate to write about your perspective on the devastating crime. To ignore can be seen as indifferent, and yet to get mired in the details can serve to take away your resiliency. It is a fine line to walk.  Your crime topic doesn’t always need to be the hot topic. You can select your topics and build signature pieces.

Is your topic historical or nostalgia based?  Some authors have created a genre all their own by focusing on the history of mystery or on a particular  geographic area where they are based. Nostalgia is always a favorite as a distraction to current events. Who doesn’t love to hear about a cold case crime? How things used to be in decades past, a long time missing persons case brought to resolution or a historic area where a famous crime took place?

 Does it have heart and human interest?  This is a very important element to me. It’s fine to report the cold hard facts. It’s not cool to report unsubstantiated rumor or fake news. In my opinion what gives a story texture, richness and longevity is to find the heart, the human element, including the back story.  To capture the feelings and emotions, good or bad, and place them in context is in keeping with the nature of storytelling and what capture’s readers attention. Without heart and human interest, often a story is one-sided, unbalanced and frequently sensational leaning heavily on the violence of the perpetrator and omitting the victim.

Is it “just another crime” or are there elements that make it more intriguing? Never take a crime at face value. Research, dig for more from reputable sources. There are unknown facts, elements of interests if you only think out of the box. What else are you wondering about that relates? If not much is known on the surface, find out about the individual characters, the geographic area, the history of the similar crimes, etc.  

The trick is, how can you make “just another crime” like looking at a prism?

Will the topic have staying power? Is the crime you want to write about unusual or are there commonalities over time?  Can it be re-introduced when a similar crime happens? Is it a case with many permutations over time? Are there many lessons to be learned if they were only exposed? There are selected pieces that stand the test of time, no matter what is happening in the real world. Longevity can be your friend.

Is the topic controversial or provocative?  Although as authors we all have a particular style, at times it’s good to shake things up a bit. If the story is not “mainstream” it does not mean that you have to agree with the content. Our job is to inform, build awareness, entertain and hopefully be a pathway for change as needed. Life is not plain vanilla and therefore we should not shy away from the controversial. Be daring!

Will your writing offend others, and if so, do you care? A writer should be diverse and sensitive to others. However, in this climate of all things hypersensitivity to political correctness, it is a personal decision as to how far you want to push the envelope. If you push too far will it damage your reputation? On the other hand, you might think that writing is a fluid experience able to withstand the ebb and flow of opinions. It’s your choice.  Choose wisely.

As the writer, do you have a personal stake in the topic and does that make it better or worse? A personal stake usually means you are engaged; you’re invested. This topic resonates with you and you are going to write something great. I love when I find a topic with which I can immediately identify. It seems to write itself in no time at all.

But, a personal stake topic can also become a forum to vent a negative experience that stays with you.  If you can format it in such a way to turn it around in the end to say “lesson learned, learn from my experience”, all the better. If it is a topic that pushes all of your buttons and you can’t step outside of it to present another side of the issue as well, perhaps it should be tabled.

Can other elements and information be pulled in to increase audience appeal?  I use this approach all the time with all of my posts with an eye toward how can I use this in a different way? What element can I highlight that is topical as a means of recycling. Part of the approach should utilize interesting colorful graphics, not just your same ol’ signature graphic. Always make it interesting.  

A post that seemingly has minimal appeal used in one way, may hit the mark at another time. It’s all about timing, and using creativity to make memorable pieces.

What groups can benefit from your writing or broadcasting (regarding podcasts?) If you are a member of Facebook Groups, non profits, civic and business groups and special interest hobby groups, the sky’s the limit in terms of benefit.  Do you want to meet other writers and share ideas? Do you want to demonstrate a skill? Do you want to promote a good cause? Do you want to increase outreach or help in a fundraising effort? Well, then, all of these can be accomplished by your love and skill with the written word.


 

Donna R. Gore, M.A.

Donna R. Gore, M.A.

 

To schedule a presentation with me at your future event or  conference please contact:

ImaginePublicity,  Telephone: 843.808.0859  Email:  contact@imaginepublicity.com

 

  

 

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Homicide as a Steady Diet

murder

When an ordinary person such as myself, through nonstop hard work, rises through the ranks to become a minor public figure based upon my personal tragedy, it gives one pause. Why? First of all, no crime victim or homicide survivor ever signed up for this occurrence. We are unprepared for how we might function on a daily basis. We certainly were not prepared for the long view of life and what twists, turns, hardships and even joys, yes, future joys there would be.

As a passionate person with passionate causes, I am blessed to have a myriad of outlets from which I can deliver my messages. Way back when I was a mere tadpole on the lily pad in Connecticut going from person to person the proverbial skies opened up with opportunities afforded by the likes new people who entered my life, and it has never been the same. From a national advocate, author and radio host, to learning social media and marketing myself from a professional, I was given the step up.

My vessels of expression now include:

However, with this presence comes responsibility. When you achieve a certain degree of success, however you personally define it, one hopes that people respect you for the journey that has been travelled, for your accomplishments, resiliency, intellect, talents and compassion for others.  Regardless of these traits, you travel down the path of least resistance addressing the topics you know best, which in my case happens to be homicide, up close and personal.

Based upon years of experience, meeting others in the same boat, trial and error, and a lot of injustice along the way, I’ve become the authority and serve up various and sundry murder pieces on my blog.  Maybe it’s a reflection of today’s society, but it seems that the public has a veracious appetite for violent crime!

This steady diet thing is akin to being typecast in one role as a famous actor/actress who can never quite shake that persona, past TV show or movie in order to spread their wings and show a diversity of talents. Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Sylvester Stallone, Jean Stapleton, are just to name a few.

If I step back and look at it as my alter ego, “Ladyjustice,” I often wonder where my allegiance lies.  Do I give my audience a steady diet of what I perceive that they want, violent crime, just for the sake of gaining readers? No, I think it should be known that I’m multi-dimensional with many interests beyond homicide. I do advocacy work through my employment with persons with disabilities daily. I have more medical experience than most MD’s due to my own health issues and a medical clinical career as a speech-language pathologist for well over 20 years. I have other creative interests and hobbies when I make time to pursue them.

Another dilemma is what many crime victims hear from the outside world that dreaded refrain from those who don’t really understand (and sometimes even in our own immediate families). “It’s been X amount of time, isn’t it time to move on now?” This phrase cuts like a knife to some of us who’ve experienced the injustice of being a victim of crime. But, to be perfectly honest, many of us have found a niche. We, in fact, don’t ever think of moving on, as the frame of reference is always moving up to bigger and better things that fulfill our passions at the time.

Parting words to my audiences – go with the flow; you just might enjoy the ride if homicide is not always the main entrée!