2019 has been a busy year at Think Forensic HQ. Here are a few of the things which have been keeping us busy…
“WELLCOME” TO FORENSICS
In conjunction with the Workers Education and Wellcome Trust we were commissioned to design and deliver our ‘Wellcome’ to Forensics programme. Aimed at members of the public each programme featured six half day sessions and included not only crime scene techniques and forensics but also interview techniques, criminology, archaeology, and profiling. We were able to provide 4 events based at different venues including Scunthorpe, Leicester, London and our own crime centre in Huddersfield. No prior knowledge or educational standard was required and the workshops were quickly fully subscribed with delegated enrolling from very diverse backgrounds. The workshops were pronounced a great hit with everyone and we thoroughly enjoyed delivering them. We hope to secure funding to be able to continue to deliver the programme in 2020. If you are interested in attending please keep an eye on either our website, Twitter or Facebook pages.
We have developed and refined our Digging Deeper into Forensics event for members of the public. Digging Deeper into Forensics is meant as a follow on to our CSI Experience, however, we have designed it in such a way that it is not essential to have been to the CSI Experience first. Digging Deeper into Forensics is especially fun as we “dig” out Boris, our blood spatter head, to create blood spatter patterns. So if you have a lot of tension you would like rid of then Digging Deeper into Forensics may be the place to do it. Further details about the sessions are available here. We are currently working on a new adult experience “Tracing the Truth” which will be launched on Saturday 13th June 2020. If you are interested in this workshop let us know and we will send you details when we have finalised things.
As many of you know for some time now, we have made and manufactured our own kits for use in schools. This year we have expanded our range to cater for individuals. These kits make ideal Christmas presents and include the following:
- Adult Fingerptint Kit for the would be super sleuths in your life
- Children’s Crime Busters Detective Kit
- Children’s Spy Kit
- Pet Pawprint Casting Kit
Following on from Harrogate Crime Writing and Dublin Murder One Festivals we have helped several of our author friends with technical questions around their plots and characters and we are now eagerly awaiting their new books. In addition we have joined forces with Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin (author Sam Blake). Vanessa’s books include the Cat Connolly trilogy, “Little Bones”, “In Deep Water” and “No Turning Back”. She is due to release her new book, “Keep Your Eyes on Me” in January 2020. In conjunction with Vanessa we are planning a new Authors Workshop which is scheduled for May 2020, but we will update you soon.
THIS SEASON’S MYTH BUSTER
In 1953 the saint’s remains were exhumed to facilitate restoration work at the church. In 1957 the Italian anatomist Professor Luigi Martino conducted a complete analysis of the saint’s bones. From X-rays and measurements of the bones the professor concluded they represented a male who was over 70 years old, 5’4” tall, of slender to average build. The skull showed the Saint had a short face with wide cheek bones, broad forehead and slightly protruding chin. Consistent with his age St Nicholas suffered from chronic arthritis of the pelvis and spine.
WRITING HINTS & TIPS FOR YOU BY VANESSA FOX O’LOUGHLIN
Good crime is all about pace and tension, about hooking the reader into the story and not letting them go – every writer wants their reader to be so engrossed they read the book in one sitting, and acieving that is paramount.
There’s a constant debate about whether crime fiction is plot driven or character driven, but without great characters you have no plot. Robert McKee in his amazing book STORY talks about the plot being generated by the character’s reactions to events. Story is about conflict and about change – if the characters do not change in some way as a result of the story, there is no story. Conflict gives us energy, it gives the characters problems to solve, it hooks us in and is core to any book. And crime readers are an intelligent bunch, they love a challenge, are the type of readers who enjoy cross word puzzles, who can spot a forensic error a mile off – they know their stuff and expect high standards.
And, conflict in my mind, is more than literal, a character’s internal conflict, their personality, their reactions, are key to keeping a reader hooked – it’s vital that as a reader you are interested enough in and fascinated enough to want to read on, and only three dimensional complex characters will achieve that. Everyone has hope and fears and things they’d rather people didn’t know. Fictional characters are just the same.
But how do crime writers create that all important edge of the seat page turning story?
Great characters are vital, a great plot too, but that’s not enough, it’s how that story is delivered that holds the reader. Here are some key techniques – next time you read a crime novel look out for them;
Starting right as the action begins. This is vital to building tension and applies to every chapter as well as that crucial first one. Getting your reader right into the middle of a scene as fast as possible keeps them engrossed. In today’s fast paced environment of internet and TV no-one has the patience to smell the roses and discuss the relative merits of tea roses over climbers if there’s a body lying in the middle of the rose bed.
A vital weapon in the crime writer’s arsenal. Dripping detail essential to the plot builds a solid and convincing narrative and when the end comes the reader has an ‘oh yes’ moment when they realise the clues where there all along. Equally the crime fiction reader is sharp and experienced in the genre and has an expectation that the writer will deliver – as playwright and short story writer Checkov said, “If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there.” For me, not knowing the answer to the key question in Little Bones meant that I had to trust the characters to guide me, trust that they had left the answers woven in to the threads of their appearances, and thankfully they had. When I went back and re-read it, I could see the markers.
SHORT, CLIPPED, NO NONSENSE SENTENCES
Moves the reader along fast when you need the pace to increase – next time your read Lee Child just look at his sentence structure. Pace and tension of intrinsically linked. When Cathy’s is in the gym and working through a case in her mind, her sentences can be as staccato as her punches.
SHORT FOCUSED CHAPTERS
These do the same thing, creating that sense of forward movement – what does the reader need to know in this chapter that is crucial to moving the plot forward and what is the cleanest way to deliver that? In Little Bones some of the chapters are only 1000 words long providing a window on one of the intertwined subplots without distracting you from the main story. Chapters of differing length speed up and slow down the reader at crucial moments.
pARED BACK DESCRIPTION
This is vital in crime writing (we’re back to the roses) – choosing your words carefully, using the fewest possible to paint a clear picture for the reader moves everything along at a trot. Using character action and dialogue to show your reader the setting means the tension is not lost through in description, it ensures you stay with the character all the way through the scene.
Sounds like a cliché, but these are vital to keep your reader hooked. In Little Bones though, I want to take you right to the edge of the cliff, show you how high the drop is, then show you something in the clouds as you teeter precariously on the edge.
This is crucial to creating tension. If a character’s heart is beating hard, as a reader you feel their fear and the tension leaps off the page – if they are frightened, and they are the ones right there in the scene – as a reader you know you should be frightened too. In the first chapter of Little Bones, despite Cathy’s experience as a detective (and as a kickboxer), her feminine intuition is kicking in and the hairs are standing up on the back of her neck, successfully, I hope building enough tension to keep you reading on…
© SAM BLAKE
Our first session of the afternoon was with Sue Procter, a former police officer with an incredibly clear way of explaining things. She and current Scene of Crime Officer David Wright talked us through a few processes we would be using later in our crime scene; taking moulds of footprints, dusting for prints in various ways and taking fingerprints. Read More…
A Break In. A Theft. Find The Evidence. Analyse It. Solve The Crime!
Can You Do It?
Free fun and exciting drop in 29th July, everyone welcome. Come and visit us at our crime centre Lodge Street, Skelmanthorpe, Huddersfield. HD8 9DR and help track down the criminal behind “The Great Art Heist”. this is a family friendly event and is suitable for all ages. Doors open 10am last entry 3pm.
- Learn how to develop and identify fingerprints like the professionals.
- Use digital micrscopes to look at hair and fibres
- Make a composite picture of the criminal
- Examine soil and footwear marks
- And much more…
Tickets are free and available
Read a totally independent blog by Jessica and Glen following a visit to one of our recent events.
“I was looking for something different to do for Glen’s birthday and found out about a CSI experience! We are both obsessed with true crime podcasts so this fitted our interests very well. Glen and I attended Think Forensic in Huddersfield to participate in an adult CSI experience day. The three hours…………..more
At Think Forensic, we are proud of our vision to help as many people as possible engage with and have fun with Science. From Primary schools to Corporate training we see the advantage of using Science to learn and develop.
Recently we were approached by a student looking for help with her EPQ and we were delighted to assist; Please read a small summary of her work assisted by Think Forensic.
My project on the development of forensic science and how it has had an impact on the way crimes are now solved.
I am an 18-year-old college student who is doing the EPQ (extended project qualification). For those of you who haven’t heard of this, this is an extra qualification you can do, and you are given the freedom to choose any question you would like to research about with a dissertation and presentation produced at the end of this.
I decided to research on the developments of forensic science and whether they have had an impact on crime solving. I am a biology and chemistry student who in my free time enjoys looking at case studies and watching documentaries on new developments in crime investigating. This is the main reason why I based my question on forensics as it’s a topic I’m very much interested in and passionate about.
There were many things I needed to research when it came to be writing my dissertation such as, going back to the past and to talk about where forensics had originated from, all the way to the modern developments used widely today. In addition, I also researched on the future of forensics and the developments which haven’t quite reached the surface but are still being worked on such as the rotating camera device. This takes photos of a scene and a software programme puts this all together. When in the courtroom the jury can virtualise the actual crime scene along with others and have a feeling of walking around the room.
After all my research and essay had been completed, the final step was to present my findings and show people the outcome of my project. I was given a display board which I could put up some of the areas I investigated. Things which were displayed were: fingerprints of my own, I did this by using an aluminium fingerprint powder and some fingerprint lifters and mounts given to me by ‘Think Forensics’, case studies such as how ballistics was used in John F Kennedys assassination, some down points of forensics such as cross-contamination in Meredith Kerchers investigation, facial reconstruction, forensic dentistry and fingerprinting. I had also displayed a forensic suit, to give people an idea of what is usually worn by forensic scientists and explained why it was vital for it to be worn.
The presentation was amazing and sharing my ideas and findings to others felt incredible. Of course, if it weren’t for ‘Think Forensic’, I wouldn’t have been able to set up my presentation and display it the way it was with actual equipment used in forensics to show others a real representation of some techniques used in forensics.