Home    Workshops    Members Only    Contests    Join    Contact us                       RWA Chapter

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

How to use Real Police Techniques to enhance your Fiction Writing by Lucinda D. Schroeder

As a retired federal agent, turned-writer I am amazed at how many law enforcement techniques there are that can make fiction writing really POP!  Here are some examples.


Federal agents and detectives usually receive advanced training in lie detection. One of the techniques is to look or listen for how a bad guy uses pronouns.  For example, if he says, “I don’t where the wife is” as opposed to the more normal response of “I don’t know where my wife went,” the police may have a reason to suspect the husband.  “My wife” suggests a close relationship whereas “the wife” suggests a more distant relationship. This little trick can be used in fiction dialog and may be the one thing that keeps Det. Colombo suspicious of the husband while he digs around for solid evidence.

This same technique can be used of objects. Let’s say that before a crime is committed the bad guy says, “I’m taking my gun with me.”  When he returns he says, “I don’t have the gun anymore.”  The fact that the gun was “my gun” and then changed to “the gun” suggests that something (bad) happened during the time the two statements were made. “The” suggests distance whereas “my” suggests closeness.  

Body Language  

Deceptive body language is another area the police watch for. For example, an officer asks a suspect “Where were you this morning around ten?” and the response is “I don’t remember exactly.” The officer will view the verbal answer as a deceptive one because it lacks commitment and is vague. But if the suspect folds his arms, crosses his legs, or breaks eye contact while he’s making a statement like this one, the suspect’s response will be viewed as being even more deceptive. Deceptive body language used while the suspect is making a false statement is considered a huge red flag indicating deception.

Special Operations

A character deeply planted inside a criminal enterprise probably got there because of a confidential informant. Informants always seem to cause trouble in real investigations.  Informants are usually motivated by money and sometimes will make up intelligence information to keep getting paid.  Let’s say a search warrant is served based on the informant’s information and the supposed evidence is nowhere to be found.  This is an opportunity for major conflict and your readers will never see it coming.

Some informants are motivated by their desire to “play cop.”  In this case they’ll try to take over the case and will eventually start making decisions on how the case should be run.  I knew an informant who did this and ended up stealing property to prove to the case agent that he was “in” with a theft ring.

Informants can work their way into an agents’ life making her miserable. An informant like this will call at all hours of the day and night just to talk about personal problems.  Informants sometimes constantly ask his agent handler for all manner of favors.  The case agent tries to accommodate the informant as much as she can to keep him on the case.  Eventually the informant turns in a parasite that won’t go away.

If you put your female informant in bed with the male agent, the sparks will really fly.  Let’s say the agent confides in her with information he doesn’t want out?  Let’s say the informant now feels that the agent can’t be trusted.  So, she slips a recorder under the pillow and records the agent as he calls his boss and the prosecutors’ ignorant idiots.  Before noon the next day, she drops the incriminating tape off at the prosecutor’s office and leaves town.  Now the agent is in REAL trouble!  Let’s say he gets fired and loses his badge and service weapon.  What happens next?

Now that I’ve revealed some clever, but true law enforcement tactics I’ll have to shoot you! Speaking of shooting…..I’ll be teaching a class on Firearms for Writers in October 2012. The class will show you how to choose a weapon that fits your character; help you describe your weapon of choice and teach you how the brain reacts during a shooting when the rubber meets the road. I’ll also cover when a shooter in a gunfight is most vulnerable—creating a solid tension builder. I promise that you’ll never write about a gun in the same again. You’ll go from: “She grabbed her gun and ran towards the house,” to “What she didn’t tell them was that her 9mm Smith and Wesson laid perfectly in the small of her back. She’d fired it so many times that sometimes she wondered if it hadn’t been born in her hand. She carried it hot and ready for Mexicans.”

I hope you’re already fired up to take this class!


Author Lucinda Schroeder holds a BA degree in criminology from the University of Maryland. In 1974, she became one of the first women hired in federal law enforcement and went to work as a special agent for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. She quickly learned how to develop innovative schemes designed to catch the bad guys who were duped by a woman.
Lucinda Schroeder is the author of “A Hunt for Justice” that takes her readers inside a criminal world they never thought existed.  Her book is a gripping story of how she posed as a big-game hunter inside a ruthless ring of international poachers in Alaska. These poachers used low-flying bush planes and fat check books to get and pay for the opportunity to kill the biggest Grizzly Bear and sheep with the trophy-sized horns.  They would have kept going until the wildlife they were after were gone.

CONTACT HER at   www.ahuntforjustice.com
In her book Schroeder reveals how she set her hooks to catch these crooks that never saw her coming. Her readers travel with her the through the never-ending trials and tribulations she endures to save what is most important to her—wild creatures of the earth.
Lucinda is also a crack shot and has won numerous shooting competitions.  She is a former firearms instructor who taught firearm tactics to other federal agents and to Native Americans in South Dakota.  Her October workshop “Firearms for Writers” is a must for any story that features a gun.    
Lucinda is now retired and is working on her second book entitled “Monster Slayer—An agent goes undercover to rescue sacred Native American artifacts only to find demons out to destroy her. 

I hope you will join my class

Hosted by

Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal
Romance Writers
This 4 WEEK class starts October 1st
 for more information click HERE


Nancy Lee Badger said...

Love these tips, Lucinda. Thanks for sharing.

Patricia Green said...

That was a helpful article. It's great that you're generous with your experience. Thanks!