November 07, 2009

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What Did I Ever Do Without The Discovery I.D. Channel? posted by Leann Sweeney I can't tell you how many times I've heard myself--and other writers--say, "If I wrote that in a novel no one would believe it." But that's what Discovery ID is all about. Delving into the unbelievable crimes that people commit. And giving me more motive material than I could ever come up with in a million years. Lately I've been watching lots of old episodes of Dateline and 48 Hours. These shows rarely focus on anything a thriller writer would be interested in. But OMG, they are a cozy writer's gold mine. Most of these episodes deal with crimes in small town America and involve infidelity, white collar crime and almost always murder. Don't get me wrong. They have profiled some of the more recent serial killer cases, like BTK, but even that case is a fascinating psychological study of a guy who would never make a great villain in a serial killer book. Too ordinary. He hid in plain sight. Like the killer does in a cozy. Oh, I forgot the taunting part about BTK. The taunting did do him in and that doesn't happen in a cozy. Most recently I watched a two hour saga about a woman in Ohio who had two boyfriends, seven children--oh, and a husband. She is a former beauty queen--rich and beautiful. And had been messing around for a long time. Even one of her kids belonged to a boyfriend, not her husband. One of said boyfriends killed the other. And she was tried for conspiracy. She was found guilty, had her verdict reversed on appeal and she is now a free woman. Too much drama for a cozy, I guess. But it's good to know that the stuff I think up isn't "way out there" or at the very least a stretch. When it comes to humans, I don't think there is a "stretch." There's plenty more I love about the ID channel. "Forensics: You Decide" is great for plotting. As a mystery writer, I have to be able to spin the possibilities of how and why a crime occurs. That's where the clues and red herrings come in when crafting a mystery. Misdirection by defense lawyers or misinterpretation of the evidence is fascinating to watch. And it happens enough to create a TV show about it. I like "Solved" because it follows a case in a very linear fashion from beginning to end. For me, writing in first person, linear is important. The heroine in my story as well as the reader get to see the evidence as it unfolds. And all the directions it can lead. Yup. Love "Solved." I haven't watched all the shows on ID--yet. But I'm about to check out the show about evil women. Every crime writer should brush up on their evil women. But I'm not so sure about the series they broadcast that deal with ghosts and psychics. I don't think I will be writing any stories like that. But I do enjoy a good autopsy program--even though I leave the gore out of my books. To know the reality of crime, the reality of violent death may not show up on the page, but to write an authentic story, to make it seem real, I need to see and hear and feel the pain some of those victims and families feel. So thank you Discovery I.D. You are a wonderful resource.

Lorraine Bartlett

Five women, five weekdays, many surprises.

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