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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Writer’s Process Blog Hop

writers blog hop

photo courtesy of D Sharon Pruitt

Dying to Live, Amy Susan Crohn, ImaginePublicity,Donna R. Gore, LadyJusticeI was nominated to join the Blog Hop by award winning author Amy Susan Crohn. Her first book, DYING TO LIVE: Running backwards through cancer, Lupus, and chronic illness was a finalist in the MEMOIRS (Overcoming Adversity/Tragedy/Challenges) category by Next Generation Indie Book Awards. She was a featured author at the 2014 Book Expo America in New York. Accomplishments which to aspire! Catch up on Amy’s website and be sure to read her blog.

I was also featured on last week’s “Hop Stop” at ImaginePublicity, a social media marketing agency who has helped develop my skills in ImaginePublicity logosocial media as well as marketing my new endeavors. Through my association I have been able to be introduced to some of the country’s leading victim advocates and others who are tops in their fields surrounding the rights of crime victims and the judicial system.

 

What am I working on?

I am a blossoming author in the professional sense, but, in reality, I have been writing since my teens, and that’s a LONG time ago! I am a mad, passionate writer and practice my craft everyday through my blog entries, in-depth research blogs which showcase issues and guests on my national radio show, Shattered Lives. I’m in the process of expanding my expertise in my forthcoming first book.

We are all products of our past and I bring a rich tapestry of experience prior to  becoming a crime victim in 1981 when my father was murdered.  I’m also the survivor of over 50 surgeries during my lifetime. Luckily, these experiences molded me into the person I am today, happy, very healthy, and are the basis of my nickname “LadyJustice.”

As a homicide survivor and advocate for many causes with an insatiable intellectual curiosity, my main interest is in the non-fiction crime genre. However, due to the myriad of colleagues I’ve met along the way, and the increased exposure to so many aspects of crime victims and their rights, I have also included others as closest to my heart, such as persons who go missing.

It’s difficult to keep on track at times, for I want to veer off into territory about which no one else has written. This is the root of my passion, for my writing to be unique and cutting edge as often as possible versus mundane ho-hum stuff.

I have created a niche market service for crime victims unlike anyone else, a custom tailored Vicitim Impact Statement writing service available in a tiered package. This addresses a need in that victims can be often left to their own devices at the most vulnerable and emotional time in their lives, unable to understand a judicial process that seems stacked against them and their needs. My consultation service creates a victim impact statement for court or for a Board of Pardons & Parole.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My passion for crime story telling knows no bounds. I can always make “something” out of a few facts given my divergent thinking skills.  Sometimes I employ what I call the ”Stone Soup Method”.  There is a more detailed method to my writing which includes how to effectively market the crime which I have outlined in a presentation called “Marketing 101 for your Crime.”  YES,  you do have to market it as a crime victim in order to obtain the proper exposure.   When writing about crime, these are some of the questions I ask myself:

    • What is personally interesting to the writer?
    • What is unique or unusual?
    • Is it related to current events? (Does it need to be?)
    • Is it historical or nostalgia based?
    • Does it have heart, human interest?
    • Is it “just another crime” or are there elements that make it more intriguing?
    • Is it readily transferable to written or audio format?
    • Will the topic have “staying power”- longevity?
    • Is the topic controversial, provocative?
    • Will it offend others…Do you care?
    • As the writer, do you have a personal stake in the topic, and does that make it better or worse?
    • Can other elements and information be pulled in to increase audience appeal?

What differs is I always try to tell a story by painting a complete picture, by using a variety of social media sites in an interesting manner, and using creative language with a sense of humor.

Why do I write what I do?

My writing has personal relevance to me and a larger audience, because it is intriguing and unique, and it needs to be discussed in the context of creating an awareness. In addition,  I enjoy breaking down the barriers of “taboo topics “ with the potential for helping large numbers of readers listeners such as in Defining Suicide Healing and Grief.

How does my work process work?

I tend to follow my heart, along with my personal experience when it comes to choosing subject matter, but I’m mindful of the following:

  • Explain the relevance up front
  • Use a “hook” to capture attention
  • Be original – No “copy-paste” stories
  • Credit others- Use references for excerpts and other material used to illustrate your message
  • Humanize and personalize
  • Tie it together- beginning, middle, conclusion
  • Begin and end on a positive or provocative note
  • Be creative (i.e. chose quotes or short narratives to “capture the mood” and enhance your material
  • Don’t use bad language; The use of other language can say it just as effectively
  • Pair your story with a graphic that “says it all”(non-copyrighted or with permission)
  • Respect copyrighted material
  • Circulate “respectfully” to other social media forms
  • Diversify your message
  • Connecting and sharing posts
  • Inclusion of questions at the end when relevant

Thanks for the opportunity to introduce my life as a blogger which has served as a “springboard” for many other opportunities! I so look forward to what’s on the horizon for “LadyJustice!”

Karen Beaudoin, A Child is Missing

As she relates the harrowing story of her missing and murdered sister in her book A Child is Missing, author Karen Beaudinwill share with readers how she has turned a family tragedy into not only a quest for justice, but a learning tool which she uses to teach law enforcement agencies about investigating criminal cold cases.

An author who is working on her sequel, Karen is also a dynamic speaker appearing at conferences and organizations all over the country.