Writing Tip — Crime fiction resources


Since October seems to be the perfect month for mysteries, here are some resources for crime writers I learned about at the ACFW conference in September.


I just bought Forensic Speak by Jennifer Dornbush because she presented a session at the conference. She comes by her expertise in this area uniquely. Her father was the medical  examiner fir a rural Michigan county and grew up discussing autosies and means of death.

The book has eight chapter covering everything from weapons and DNA to who’s who in the courtroom. For each term, Ms. Dornbush provides three headings to explain it: “What is it?”, “Where do I see it?”, and “How can I use it?” What I think is very helpful are the exercises listed at the end of each chapter.

Because the book is written specifically for writers for crime fiction, I find it easy to use. I’ve already learned there’s a difference between “blood spatter” and “blood splatter.”

Check out Ms. Dornbush’s website here.

Life of a Patrol Cop and Weapons

I also attended a session led by former police officer Joseph Courtmanche, who is a new author in the world of Christian fiction with his novel Assault on St. Agnes.

His session was about the work of the patrol officer. I was completely absorbed, barely able to take notes fast enough.

The biggest change in police patrols since Mr. Courtemanche left the force in the 1980’s to work for a federal agency is the amount of technology loaded onto the patrol car. I don’t know if this ti true for every police department, but many patrol cars now have computers mounted in the front and back which scan every license plate within a certain distance and check them against a database.

Since my book is set in rural West Virginia, I asked what is the biggest difference between city patrol work and rural patrol work. Mr. Courtemanche said that in the country, police officers are often alone and will not take as many chances as their counterparts in the city,.

Mr. Courtemanche said the best way to understand this kind of police work is to ride along with on-duty police in a patrol car or watch Live PD on A&E. He was also doing a presentation on weapons, such what kind of weapon would a criminal be likely to carry. When I told him I  could not attend that session, he said I could learn just as much if I subscribed to Gun Digest for a year. I did a quick search on the site for Gun Digest and could access a lot of articles without being a subscriber.

If you write crime fiction, what resources have you found helpful?

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