A place where writers who love crime fiction and horror can discuss different facets of writing, and the various components that make up a story. Readers are more than welcome too. Let's discuss what you like to see in these tales of mystery, suspense and terror. Included also will be news about upcoming contests, links to great crime, noir, and horror tales, and a review or two.
Friday, June 29, 2012
AS CRIME WRITERS, ARE WE ENTERTAINING OUR READERS OR EDUCATING FUTURE KILLERS?
With all the information available today via the Internet, TV shows, textbooks, etc., concerning all aspects of forensics, it assists those of us who write crime to make our fiction stories ring true. The characters, events, and possibly even the locations might be fictitious, but our killer's actions/reactions, and the processes of the investigators, courts and so on are taken from real life. I do believe it is necessary to do whatever research is necessary to accurately depict all those elements since writers aren't the only ones watching the shows and reading the reference books--our readers do as well.
The other day I was watching one of those documentaries about a killer who, during an interview, stated that he based a lot of his methods of torture on a mystery book he had read. He also had avoided capture for quite some time due to another book, also fiction, that went into great detail about how the use of forensics had caught the killer in the novel. Now, this killer did not say that the books he read actually caused him to kill; he was not trying to place any blame on the writers. But he did say that the books were very helpful to him during his 'career' as a murderer. This man had a library card that he had used on a regular basis, all for true and fictional crime novels. While he attributed no causal effect to the books, he did state that the information in them made him a better killer. I guess he forgot to read the chapter about getting caught...
Anyway, my point being, have you ever wondered what your readers are actually getting out of your work? I know we don't 'cause' people to do anything. People 'do' whatever by their own choice. But, the more advanced crime solving becomes, the more information we provide in our stories, the more entertaining they are to potential readers. But, who are those readers? Are they businessmen sitting on a plane on their way to close a big merger, or are they those teetering on the edge of becoming serial murderers trying to find out just how effective recovery of DNA from certain surfaces can be?
I'm not trying to suggest feeling any kind of guilt here. My stories are hard, dark and violent, and I write only to entertain, as do we all. Let me clarify my use of the word 'entertain', however. I am not trivializing tales of brutality and cruelty as if to portray them as some type of joke. I use the word 'entertain' only to differentiate crime fiction/true crime from those who write books specifically to instruct, as authors of textbooks.
I'm just curious if any of you have ever wondered what effects your stories have and who it is they possibly are affecting.