THE HARDY DETECTIVE AGENCY PRESENTS:

Volume 1                   THE RAP SHEET     Issue 1  
June 20, 2004

Editor-in-Chief: Alaina P.
Webpage Formats: Rokia

What is The Rap Sheet?

Welcome to The Rap Sheet!  While we will celebrate birthdays, babies and other special announcements here, our main focus is on writing.  For all the wonderful authors who contribute to the HDA Library – and all those who aspire to – we hope to bring you tips, articles and other helpful information to keep you cranking out those great stories we all love to read!  If there is anything you’d like to see covered in The Rap Sheet, e-mail The Rap Sheet.

                           

 

You Tell Us!

        The Rap Sheet Question    

 Here is where we will post a question and you get to tell us what you think!  The question for this issue is:

What one piece of advice would you give an author who is embarking on their first ever fan fiction story?

Even if you aren’t a published author on the site, please join in and give us your opinion!  And if there’s a question you’d like to see posted, just let us know!

 E-mail your reply’s and suggestions to: The Rap Sheet

OOOPS!

 Have you ever been totally engrossed in a story and come upon a passage that left you thinking “What?!  That could never happen!”  Sometimes we authors take a little too much creative license, thinking no one will notice, or simply don’t know what we’ve just written can’t really happen outside of  “Hardy-land”.  In the interests of getting all those little details right, here are a few of the most common mistakes made in writing crime stories:

 

v     Don’t confuse ballistics with firearms identification.  Ballistics is the study of the trajectory of a bullet, not the identification of the gun the bullet came from.

v     Bodies are seldom outlined in chalk or tape because they may have to be rolled over.  Chalk markings or tape may be used when the victim is found outdoors, when someone has been struck by a vehicle, or when the victim has fallen from a great height.

v     “Take him downtown for questioning” is a cliché that should be used with care because a suspect can refuse to be questioned.  If the suspect refuses to be questioned, there isn’t anything the officer can do except detain the suspect while checking for outstanding warrants.

v     Don’t have your investigator pick up a suspect weapon by inserting a pencil into the barrel.  Doing so might contaminate any of the victim’s blood spatterings inside the barrel and could also affect the rifling, thus compromising later comparisons made in the police lab.

v     Don’t have your investigator put weapons and similar pieces of evidence into plastic bags – plastic sweats, and any prints on the article could be damaged.  In most instances paper bags are used to collect physical evidence.

v     Keep crime scene personnel to a minimum.  In real life, anyone not essential to processing the scene is kept away.  If that is not possible, have your characters use a trail already examined by a criminalist.

v     If your story needs a red herring (other suspects to investigate before the perpetrator is caught), develop them so they are  not easily dismissed by the reader.  Give them good motives, opportunity, no alibis and depth of character.

 

They key to accurate writing is to keep looking for the right answers – not just any answers or even good answers.  You need answers that will amaze your readers and keep them asking for more.

 

The Crime Writer’s Reference Guide 1001 Tips for Writing the Perfect Murder

by Martin Roth

 

“Why Do I Need to Spell Check?”

Ask any reader of fan fiction what their biggest pet peeve is and you are likely to get one answer – TYPO’S!  Nothing is more frustrating than trying to make sense of a story that is so littered with typographical errors it makes reading the story an effort in futility.  And nothing is easier to fix than typo’s.

These days every word processing program comes with a spelling and grammar checker – usually under the “Tools” menu in the toolbar.  This wonderful little program will not only correct your misspelled words but can also point out common grammatical and punctuation errors, too.  While a good spell checking program will catch most errors, it’s always a good idea to proofread your own work as well as ask your beta reader to point out any errors.

In addition to spell check tools there are many websites out there that can help the aspiring author.  A few of the more popular ones include:

www.yourdictionary.com

www.m-w.com

(The official website of Merriam-Webster)

www.dictionary.com

(This site contains not only a dictionary and thesaurus but also has online reference guides for grammar usage and style)

Typo’s can run the gamut from being slightly amusing to unintentionally insulting to changing the entire meaning of a story.  We’ve all heard some authors justify their lack of proofreading and spell checking by saying they are writing for their own enjoyment and having to correct mistakes is no fun.  Their battle cry is usually something along the lines of “If you don’t like it, don’t read it!”  Guess what… we don’t. 

The bottom line is if you want people to invest their time in reading your story, you must first invest the time to make it readable.

 

 

 

 

Suggested Reading Corner

 Looking for some good reference books to help in your quest to write the perfect fan fiction story?  Check out these books in The Elements of Fiction Writing Series:

Beginnings, Middles & Ends by Nancy Kress

Characters & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card

Scene & Structure by Jack M. Bickham

Conflict, Action & Suspense by William Noble

Setting by Jack M. Bickham

Plot by Ansen Dibell

Dialogue by Lewis Turco

Description by Monica Wood

If you’ve come across a great reference book that has become invaluable to you, and you’d like to share your secret let us know.  Send the title and author of the book to The Rap Sheet and we’ll give it a plug in an upcoming Suggested Reading Corner!

 

 

 

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Disclaimer

The Hardy Boys belong to Simon and Schuster and the Stratemeyer Foundation. The authors have just borrowed them for an adventure or two. The authors promise to put the boys back when they are done with them. The authors do claim copyright to the original characters in this story. Please do not borrow original characters without express permission of the authors.