In rereading my urban fantasy fairy tale, I came across a scene that I had pulled from the trunk novel I was using for donor parts.
The scene features the MC and another character, the MC’s friend who is also the Homicide Police Captain.
My MC is called in to look at what turns out to be a magic circle, used to summon demons, because he’s an expert on the esoteric. He is often called in by the Police to identify occultish symbols or objects. Not because anyone believes in the occult, but in the hopes that by giving the item a historical context they will have a better chance of assigning motives and tracking down suspects.
Now as I said, this is an old scene, one of the original scenes from my trunk novel that I had started 15 years ago.
In the scene, my MC meets the Police Captain in a corn field and together they head toward the murder scene.
On the way, they pass the Medical Examiner, who is leaving the scene, heading back to his car. He quips a few morbid jokes and is gone. Never to appear in the story again.
At the time, I thought nothing of that meeting with the ME, nor did any of my beta readers mention it. I knew nothing about writing crime scene fiction nor had I read many police procedurals.
But this week, I started thinking about it. Something nagged at me that the scene was inadequate. But what?
It occurred to me that the ME just leaving the scene, the bodies, without so much as a “How do you do?” was a little odd.
If you’ve ever watched the television show NCIS (or any of the hyper-graphic crime shows), you know that Ducky never just leaves the scene. He and his assistant are there investigating and providing Gibbs with a running inventory of findings. Then, after they’ve done all they can at the scene, Ducky tags and bags the bodies and ensures they get to his lab for the autopsy.
My ME, on the other hand, tells a few jokes and is gone.
Because I now have a better understanding of how (fictional) MEs work, I’m going to revise the scene.
The ME will still leave, still make some jokes, but now I’ll add some more dialog. The Captain will ask a few questions, including something like “Leaving already?” And the ME can respond, “I know how to deligate.”
At the crime scene I’ll add a few ME assistants and forensic techs, even giving some pertinent dialog about the bodies to one of them.
Why did I start thinking about this scene this week? My oldest son just started interning with the local Medical Examiner’s office and I guess that made me more conscious of what was going on in this story.
A writer’s job is never done. That’s because writers are always expanding their knowledge and always applying that knowledge to improve their writing.