Tag Archives: writing research

A Hero or a Zero? Finding Inspiration in Real Life Detectives

4 Mar
Real detectives don't look like this.

Real detectives don’t look like this.

Hidey-ho,  readers! Madeline here.  I’ve been doing research lately on my current WIP by studying real men who fight crime.  It started with grilling a cop who came by to investigate our car when it was broken into, and has continued with taking notes on news programs or real-life cop shows that go through a homicide case from soup to nuts.  Sometimes I feel like a sleuth myself tracking down a difficult-to-find source.  For instance, I knew about an out of print video of an FBI profiler but had to track it down in live streaming format when all other sources failed.

So far I’ve filled up three note pads with the details surrounding detectives–mainly the jargon they use.  There’s a certain way that these detectives use language in their reports, and they tend to fall back on this kind of nomenclature when talking to each other or when picking their words with care as they interact with civilians. Not bullet holes but defects.  Not people, but certain individuals.  Post-mortem abrasions vs. peri-mortem contusions.

While I’m soaking up the lingo, my mind is performing a casting call.  I need some heroes and some zeroes.

Picking my heroes is easy.  I spot them right away.  Picking the true zeros is much harder.

They look like this.  (Blue tooth earpiece not shown.)

Hero or Zero? (Blue tooth earpiece not shown.)

I was surprised by how fast I identified the heroes.  Some are real diamonds in the rough.  I was watching one captain, for instance, who’s fast on his feet and relentless.  Sounds like a hero, right? Sure, except the guy sports a pervy little mustache and has a phone headset in his ear at all times.  Ish.  At the same time, whenever I watched him in action, for some reason I felt an inner thrill.  Yes, he was pouring through the garbage at an apartment complex in the middle of the night.  Yes, I know that doesn’t sound romantic or cool. When he came up with dumster-diving gold: a scorched t-shirt used in the shooting I wanted to clap. How did he know? How did he find it? The man is a genius. When it’s clear that the trial is going to be a slam dunk, I’m scrambling to finish up my notes while Captain ‘stache hands out all the credit to his men. Now that’s a hero.  I’ve resolved to give him a little make-over before he goes into my book.

The make-over.

The make-over.

The rest of the men I watch who aren’t heroes aren’t really zeroes either.  Mostly they’re  just normal.  Obviously they’re very hard working guys, I just wonder if they have insight into how criminals think? I’m not seeing it.  Can their mind remain agile when they’re tired after forty-eight hours without sleep?

I’ve found one spectacular zero.  He complains on camera about the heat and how overwhelmed he is.  Poor thing.  Yet he’s got five senior detectives on the scene with him.  They’re helping him keep up his paper work, they’re canvassing the neighborhood for him, and they’re all wearing long sleeved shirts and ties just like he is.  But while they are doing whatever they can to help him solve this case, he is wondering where he can find some water and wanders off camera saying he thinks he’s maybe going to pass out.

Excuses, excuses.  What I’ve learned by doing this research is that a zero feels entitled.  He is always pretending to be more than he seems.  In fact, he’s less.   The heroes, meanwhile, may not look like much to the eye at first, but they have hidden depths of fire and nerve.

Do you think women romance readers can enjoy a hero who’s not an Adonis with a strapping build?  I could.   Based on guys I’ve dated, I can confidently state I could get into a hero who’s a little ugly.  But, sorry Captain, even I draw the line at a hero with a pervy little mustache.

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