Multi-genre writing crosses the barriers between types and purposes of writing articles and stories. It’s just one aspect in the stages of writing development.
Forensic Evidence in Plots is a perfect example of crossover writing. It’s an article I wrote pertaining to screenwriting. However, the information is also quite valid for all stories, both fiction and nonfiction.
In writing this article, I inadvertently stumbled upon information about having a subplot over power the main plot and how to avoid it. That great information is also included in this multi-genre piece.
"Can you write an article for my screenwriting newsletter?" a friend asked.
The idea enticed me. I knew almost right away that I'd like to give it a try.
"Write something about avoiding the use of the burgeoning forensics research," she said.
I’m mostly a novelist and short story writer, but I have studied and written a feature screenplay, adapted from one of my novels. I said I would try this multi-genre writing, and that I seemed to be branching out in all directions anyway.
It’s been my experience that most writers frown on multi-genre writing. They prefer to stick to what they know, and rightly so. That’s one way to become adept at your craft. But I feel compelled to write whatever comes my way.
Specifically, I was asked to write an article telling how to get around having to include forensic data. Once I began researching and writing, I found omitting forensic information couldn’t be done.
Many stories are borderline multi-genre writing, simply because our knowledge about everything has expanded.
As I worked my way through the stages of writing development in putting this article together, I found a way exists to get around having to first get a degree in forensic science. It’s explained here using the film, Witness, as an example.
Forensic Evidence in Plots
Forensic science could kill your story.
With forensic evidence being able to convict a perpetrator on as little as a millimeter of hair fiber, for example, plots of stories and films could be brought to an end too abruptly. Too, explaining the forensic evidence and showing how it affects the outcome could take over any plot.
It is important that the main plot hold the most interesting, the most critical action. Then, no matter how contorted a subplot, it will only serve to enhance the main plot. True, too, any twist or turn in a subplot must enhance the main plot action. It cannot be included only to enhance the subplot.
There is a risk here of having your subplot become a story unto itself and distract from the purpose it should serve. Any action in a subplot must feed into but not be greater than the main action.
The good cop, John Book, discovers fellow officer, McFee, has committed a murder. When John Book discloses this to his boss, Schaeffer, he soon learns Schaeffer is just as corrupt. The bad cops are selling off confiscated drugs. Once found out, both Schaeffer and McFee want to kill John Book.
This is a simple subplot that adds to and is intrinsic to complicating the action of the main plot. This subplot of clandestine activities within the police department blocks the hero from accomplishing his goal of bringing the perpetrator to justice and heightens tension in the story. So, too, does the fact that John Book needs to hide out and heal while yet another person turns him in.
Considering Pamela Wallace won an Oscar for co-writing the script for Witness, how many times can such good cop/bad cop plots be done? If some cops are to be the bad guys in scripts, after the impact that Witness made in films, bad cop plots must take more drastic turns.
In a thriller I began writing a few years ago, soon after I completed the rough draft of the manuscript, an explosion in forensic science occurred and my story immediately became outdated. A year of work had to be shelved.
I had to find a way to save it. I did. To this day, it is still a unique story, and even more so that it's getting raves from pre-readers.
The murders and arson I conjured in my original story could today be easily solved. How could I learn enough about forensic science in order to thwart its proving effects in my plot and still keep the action running?
Then I read, You Can Write a Movie, also written by Pamela Wallace. Finally, I hit upon a way to get around forensic science without myself having to become a forensic scientist.
In Witness, Wallace had crooked cops tampering with evidence. I have crooked cops in my mystery too. However, I could not be satisfied with simply adding crooked cops into the mix. It seemed all too convenient and way overdone in films. But not if you throw into the melee a radical group who just happens to get their kicks from wrongdoing.
My story has a subplot of not just crooked cops but a group of social renegades as well. But as I said, this was not enough for me.
I further complicated my plot with a hierarchy within the group of bad guys - and girls - all trying to out-do or eliminate one another in order to rise in stature. Then, so as not to distort from the main plot action, anything this group does enhances or thwarts the heroine from accomplishing her goal to help bring the proper person to justice.
While a certain amount of evidence is a must in order to redirect the finger of guilt toward the real perpetrator, my plot becomes complicated when evidence disappears. People within the wicked hierarchy fall or rise to power dependent upon who loses and finds and uses said evidence to climb another rung on the ladder.
Then, while all this is going on, the innocent moves closer to a date with lethal injection.
If your story lacks excitement or is too easily solved, interrupt the pathway that connects the dots. Maybe kill off the only person who knows about the smoking gun. Let corroboration be found later on. There is no way to get around the fact that forensic science can solve most crimes these days, but only if there is evidentiary proof to test.
While no forensic evidence was needed to solve the murder in Witness, the complications that arose and blocked John Book from accomplishing his goal made for an exciting story.
However, you must complicate your story to delay the final scene that forensic science can prematurely bring about. Make your plot as contorted as possible.
You must complicate your plot and learn something about the forensic information your story needs. The writer need not learn about all forensic science, only as much as must be used to enhance that one plot; enough to hide the true facts from being found too soon.
Multi-genre writing crosses the barriers between types and purposes of writing articles and stories. It’s what you include in your prose that makes it multi-genre writing.
The above article is considered a nonfiction article because, to make a point, it uses a film already produced and is about something in real life. It is not fiction.
So, too, can this multi-genre writing be symbolic of what a writer might include in a fiction story during the stages of writing development.
Certainly true forensic science is used when needed in all stories except, perhaps, fantasy and science fiction. Even so, multi-genre writing reaches into those plots as well. Likewise, does forensic science, seen through a different veil. All ideas stem from what we already know.
Forensic Evidence in Plots is a perfect example of multi-genre writing. The point here is that anytime a bit of writing can apply to either fiction or nonfiction, it’s multi-genre writing.
Multi-genre writing is a medium of its own. Yet it’s just another segment in the stages of writing development. Testing your skills at multi-genre writing would greatly enhance your writing ability. Too, it would give your muse a new perspective.