Please welcome guest blogger Lucinda D. Schroeder
make a fictional criminal real, writers have to know how real criminals
think and how they operate. One area that writers can easily exploit is
the use of “signatures.” This is a consistent (post-mortem) “mark” that
killers often leave at the crime scene.
concept of “signatures” was developed by FBI whose theories on this
have remained fairly consistent for the last twenty years. Basically a
“signature” is a very specific thing that the killer does to his
victim’s body. He may leave the victim’s body posed in a particular way
that later identifies the killer every time he strikes.
Bundy, a serial killer, was known to use pink polish to paint the
fingernails of his dead victims. Every time this “signature” occurred,
law enforcement knew they were dealing with a specific killer.
writers can make these specific calling cards creepy and terrifying.
There’s no limit to this. Criminal “signatures” can also be set up in a
way for the killer to communicate with law enforcement like the D.C.
snipers did. Most killers leave a “signature” for emotional reasons
providing insight to their criminal minds. These clues can be used to
further an investigation.
secondary character trained to interpret “signatures” can have a strong
impact on the providing law enforcement on what type of killer is
running loose. These interpretations can be anything a fiction writer
wants them to be. Just the fact that the writer is using the concept of
“signatures” makes the fiction more credible.
FBI profilers have long said that to catch a killer you have to study their art.
the Criminal Mind” begins on February 6th. In this course writers will
find dozens of ways to make the core of their criminals real while using fiction writing techniques to enhance the terror.
“Fiction on top of reality is like icing on a cake.” Lucinda Schroeder
See you in class! Lucinda
My true crime book “A Hunt for Justice” will be profiled on the Travel
Channel on Feb. 21 at 9:00 ET. The series is called “Hidden Cities”
and the city being profiled is Anchorage.
Inside the Criminal Mind, presented by Lucinda Schroeder, runs from February 6, 2012 through March 4, 2012
Schroeder is a retired federal agent who spent 30 years investigating
crimes. She holds a BA in criminology and is the author of "A Hunt for Justice" --a true crime story that reads like a mystery.