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Crime stories

 

Disciplines > Storytelling > Plots > Classic story types > Crime stories

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

A crime occurs when criminal law is broken by a criminal. A typical crime story format is:

  • A crime is committed.
  • The detective or police seek the criminals.
  • A game of cat and mouse ensues.
  • The criminals are eventually caught.

A typical fold in the story happens where an innocent person is the prime suspect up until a point when it is realized that this is wrong.

The reader may be involved to varying degrees, for example knowing the criminal when the detective does not. They may also be enticed to follow lines of thought as they are presented with a set of clues. Assorted devices may be used for this.

Example

Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories.
Agatha Christie's Poirot stories.
The TV Columbo series.

Discussion

Sometimes many of us would like to commit crimes,  but are prevented by our conscience or the thought of being caught and punished. Crime stories thus provide us with vicarious pleasure without having to cross the criminal line.

Crime stories are also reassuring that all is well in the world as the police usually capture the criminals.

There is a wide range of crime story structure including:

  • Caper story: Elegant robbery.
  • Chase story: Where criminals are chased.
  • Con story: Confidence trickster (maybe tricking other criminals).
  • Courtroom drama: Prosecution and defense.
  • Gothic mystery: Dark danger.
  • Heist: A big robbery.
  • Hostage: Capture and rescue.
  • Kidnapping: Covert capture and rescue.
  • Whodunnit: Guessing who committed the crime.

Note in these the main crimes of theft, violence (particularly murder) and capture.

See also

Story devices, Whodunnit, Villainous characters

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