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Nigel Ward Workshop on True Crime 14th January 2015

Nigel Ward

“I am not a criminal and not an expert on crime” was the intriguing opening to Nigel’s superb evening. He tells lies you know. Maybe not a criminal but he was very much an expert in guiding us through a range of methods and sources, which could be used to aid our research into true crime for a forthcoming club competition. He emphasised that most, if not all of us, would have to rely on secondary sources for research.
Nigel highlighted the importance of becoming familiar with the genre through reading magazines or looking at websites. He stressed what he called the six C’s to help create a multi dimensional story line.
Crime – Huge variety of crimes to choose from both, historical and modern, white-collar to murder.
Criminal -Try to find out about the background of the criminal to create a more rounded article.
Context – Putting our particular crime into its time and place.
Courtroom – All aspects of the trial, verdict, sentence, any appeal would all add to our understanding of the story.
Conflict – Was the crime an isolated event or part of a pattern of crimes or were there factors in the individual’s life which contributed to the crime?
Consequences -How the criminal act affected the families of the victim and criminal. Did this lead to changes in the legal system or some kind of legacy e.g. charities set up by victim’s family?
Nigel also reiterated Douglas Skelton’s advice to remember that the most important aspect of our piece should be the story telling as this help to bring it alive, draws in the reader and makes it a success.
Nigel then gave us two practical exercises to start us off in developing the necessary skills for research into true crime writing based on recent newspaper reports.
From the selected case we had to identify the 6c’s and ‘the story’ – what would become central to our particular article? This resulted in a variety of slants being chosen, some fairy specific to the crime or linked to attitudes in society. We then had to write a headline and first few sentences of a potential article.
When asked why he had included some wonderful mountain scenes in his presentation, Nigel joked they were to help those of us who were in danger of falling asleep. No need! The ease with which Nigel demonstrated and shared his own skills made this an informative and highly entertaining evening.
Thanks Nigel – it was well worth coming out on a wild night.
Yvonne K Jack

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