If you use any kind of forensics and police procedure in your fiction, Lee Lofland’s The Graveyard Shift is a website you’ll want at the top of your bookmarks. Lee is the author of Police Procedure & Investigation, a Writer’s Digest “Howdunnit” book. A retired police officer, Lee knows more about police procedure than most of us will learn in a lifetime of writing.
Among my favorite posts are Lee’s reviews of popular TV shows like Castle and Southland. The two shows stand at opposite extremes of proper police procedure, and Lee points out the faults as well as the scenes done well. He’s also quick to point out that, while shows like Castle play fast and loose with police procedure, the story telling and characterization make up for that shortcoming. This is a great learning tool for the writer, as many of us unwittingly pick up much of our knowledge from TV and movies. We figure Castle is a big hit, so the writers must be doing something right. Yeah, if we want our novel to more of a comedy or sexual-tension filled frivolous mystery (which is fine, of course, I think Janet Evanovich sold a book or two like that ).
But if we want reality, which many readers demand, then we’d better be sure to separate entertainment from correct procedure. Lee helps with that. And we get into some fun conversations about the shows we watch.
Lee also hosts an annual Writer’s Police Academy. I have not attended, but am jealous of those who have. It’s a long weekend of guns, forensics, fast cars, and other hands on experience that will add depth to your novels. If you’ve got it in your conference budget, I recommend it.
So, crime writers, make your life easier. Lee’s done all the research for you. You just have to click on his site every day and see what morsel he has to offer.