Friday, July 29, 2011

The Writer and Their Informants

There is an old police saying: "Good informant, good case. Bad informant, bad case. No informant, no case."

In a criminal investigation, the police need to be resourceful when gathering information. Often police are faced with the fact that they don't have much to go on. They have no eyewitnesses and they don't have much in the way of evidence. One of the things they do in a case like this is rely on informants. If you have ever seen Starsky and Hutch, you know those fictional officers often turned to their informant, Huggy Bear. He consistently gave them some crucial piece of information that helped them solve the case. That's TV, but the principle is true in the real world. Informants are critical in law enforcement, but they're actually more of a last resort than a first one.

Now with the Internet, we see a new type of informant. And often, the person doing the 'informing' is the subject of the investigation. Many cases have been solved because the person who committed a crime actually posted a video of it on YouTube or bragged about it on his or her Facebook page. Virtual informants. This 'crowd sourcing' is being used more and more by police -- both state and federal -- and also by a wide variety of other agencies looking for information. You've used it yourself if you've ever 'googled' anyone on the Internet.

 

In my novel, Sleeping with Skeletons, spies are my informants. (Trailer above).

Do you use informants in your stories? If you're writing a crime story or even a romance, you probably have some kind of informant. Who is yours? If you don't have an informant in your story, do you think your story would benefit from adding one?

16 comments:

Doralynn Kennedy said...

Just testing to see if my comment function is working yet.

J.L. Campbell said...

In one situation, I used a private investigator to reveal what was going on to the main character. Don't think I've ever used an informant as such in a novel. Something to think about.

Doralynn Kennedy said...

I love PI's. I've thought about writing a story with one as my main character. Thanks for stopping by. I was just correcting a typo and saw you'd posted. Hope you're doing well.

Lisa Gail Green said...

That's an interesting question! I hadn't really thought of that as a character type. I suppose I do have informants in some form or another... Something to chew on for sure!

Doralynn Kennedy said...

Thanks Lisa. I'm glad you found that interesting and 'food for thought'. :=)

George said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Denise Covey said...

Hi Doralynn: Thanks for finding my blog and commenting on my Heathcliff story. I too love Jane Eyre! I see you love Tami Hoag also, as do I, and Victoria Holt and a million others.

Thanks for this post. My unfinished second novel starts with a crime and the police are involved but hey I like the idea of an informant. (I used to love Starsky and Hutch too.)

Denise

Doralynn Kennedy said...

Thanks Denise. I appreciate you stopping by and leaving a comment. Starsky and Hutch was great. I've watched a few episodes of them at YouTube lately. And Jane Eyre! Probably my favorite book of all time!

Maeve Frazier said...

Hi Doralynn - Thanks for finding my blog, if you hadn't I might have missed yours. I am not sure where I am most impressed. I love your blog! Love, love the cover to your book along with the title. I must get it. I am also impressed by your profile. You are an intriguing individual! With all of these things put together, it is a great selling point for your novel. I am so looking forward to reading it. I am a new follower and fan to your blog. - Maeve

Doralynn Kennedy said...

Hi Maeve... what great timing. Apparently, I was answering Denise's post while you were leaving a comment.

Thanks for your kind comments. They just made my day. (And thanks for checking out my blog and for the follow!) Doralynn

Bish Denham said...

If an informant is someone who passes along information, then yes, I have a couple of informants in my MG.

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Doralynn Kennedy said...

Hi Bish, thanks for your comment. I think we all have informants of one kind or another... even if it's not a crime novel. Thanks for the visit! Doralynn

Unknown said...

I've missed your posts! What have you been up to? Have you written another book yet? Are you still on TNBW? I'm on Google+, you can talk to me there or there places.

Doralynn Kennedy said...

Hi, how great to hear from you! I've been thinking of you. I'd like to interview you for my blog. I'm not at TNBW. I changed the name of Spiders to Dead Fall. It's out with agents, including my dream agent who asked for a partial. I made a mistake, though, and pulled it from one agent who had it on an exclusive, and I think he was going to represent me, so I'm really kicking myself for that. I almost have Cliff House finished... just a few more chapters to go on that. What about you? I've got to check your blog. I've been really busy with my family and haven't really been doing much of anything else.

Janet Johnson said...

So interesting to learn about how this works in real life! Thank you for sharing. I don't have an informant in my current MS, but it's the wrong kind of story for that. Still . . . something to think about for future stories. :)

Doralynn Kennedy said...

Hi Janet, thanks for visiting my blog. I'm glad you found that interesting! And I'm glad it gave you something to think about for future stories. Thanks again! Doralynn