The characterization of crime fiction characters
A criminal investigator needs either a sharp mind or a large portion of determination to unmask a criminal. In crime novels, there are different character traits that advance a crime story, and those that tend to go against a crime novel.
It is necessary that the figures of a genre have certain genre-specific characteristics. In the field of criminal story, an investigator should above all be fearless, astute and tricky. As a rule, he does not have deep partnerships that bind him emotionally. This is the only way he can easily put his life on the line and use his free spirit to catch a clever criminal.
The following list of character traits can be used to develop criminal investigators and sharpen their character profile with the help of the pairs of opposites. Pairs of opposites can be used to easily form a character:
How’s the investigator?
observing closely – overlooking things
perceptive – dull
curious – disinterested
thoughtful – fickle
listening – talkative
reserved – stormy
precise – unclear
committed – indifferent
justice-loving – immoral
intrepid – shy
well-fortified – timid
strong – weak
tricky – unimaginative
If your central crime figure has some of the qualities listed on the left, you increase the chances of your figure becoming a good investigator.
The dilemma of a crime investigator
Investigators are constantly risking their lives to catch a murderer. They are constantly crossing borders: lines of danger. Boundaries of what you shouldn’t or shouldn’t do. The limits of what you cannot say or think. It is through these very boundaries that investigators get on the trail of a perpetrator.
An investigator will often ask himself: “Should I risk my life again? Can I save someone else’s? Or do I hold back? Perhaps the person does not deserve to be saved?”
These thoughts show a major dilemma of an investigator. But the investigator hesitates only briefly and risks life and limb. Miss Marple mingles with a group of actors in the crime film ” Murder Most Foul” (1964) in order to unmask a murderer. In “Casino Royale” (2006), investigating agent James Bond mingles with a poker game of gangsters in order to thwart a criminal’s plan. And the young FBI agent Clarice Starling contacts the dangerous man-eater Dr. Lecter in “Silence of the Lambs” to catch a serial killer.
But a dilemma is not only caused by the danger an investigator runs into or whether he hesitates. A dilemma always has to do with the goal (Want) of an investigator.
An investigator who is out for revenge is repeatedly confronted by initiated colleagues with the question of what he would do if he actually faced the murderer. A real dilemma should be closely linked to the main character’s essential character goal. A dilemma gives the character multidimensionality and depth of character.
The dilemma should always show two possible paths, each path in itself posing a serious problem. For a vindictive cop, for example, the dilemma could be: “What will you do if you kill him? Will you be satisfied then? And what will happen then? Do you want to go to jail? Better let it go! Don’t kill him. Let the culprit go. But how are you gonna live if the perp is out having fun? He deserves to die. Doesn’t he?”
If a vindictive cop stops living out his revenge, then he might not have any reason to investigate and do his job anymore. Whether the investigator kills the perpetrator and thus takes revenge or fails to do so – both must have serious consequences. This is how a dilemma should be built.
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