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Crime Fiction – what’s it all about?

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1 Crime Fiction – what’s it all about?
Crime fiction – a genre in which the cause or causes of a mysterious happening, often a crime, is gradually revealed by the hero or heroine. This is accomplished through a mixture of intelligence, ingenuity, the logical interpretation of evidence, and sometimes sheer luck. What are intelligence, ingenuity and logical interpretation?

2 Learning intentions To understand what conventions are used in a crime story to make it recognisable. To be able to identify these conventions To learn about some well known crime authors and stories

3 Success Criteria Fill in a conventions identification sheet
An ICT, group and oral task Questions on some stories Venn diagram and character analysis/comparison And lots more!

4 The First Detective Stories
Edgar Allan Poe wrote detective stories in the 19th century. His famous detectives name was Dupin. Conan Doyle later wrote his Sherlock Holmes stories These writers used similar techniques in their stories, and similar character types. This established the conventions (structural elements that this type of genre follow) of the detective story.

5 What are the conventions?
The narrator is often a friend or associate of the detective, their mistakes and failures are used to make the detective look smarter. Past events play an important part in many of these stories It is intelligence that wins the day rather than strength or violence – they are methodical and logical Dialogue is important as theories are talked through The typical atmosphere is gloomy and dark, often with gruesome murders, bloody corpses and descriptions of terrible injuries Narrator – person telling the story; methodical – takes things step by step until the task is done; dialogue – talking and conversation

6 Changes to crime fiction
Like all things, changes occur over time. In fiction these changes are often reflections and reactions to changes occurring in society. An example – during World War 1 female authors became more common. Stories were generally set in a village with a limited number of suspects; much less gruesome in nature and past events were even more important. We might see this change as a result of societies weariness with violence and death and the fact that the men were off fighting. People were perhaps comforted by this ‘localising’ of stories. Agatha Christie is an example of this style of writing.

7 Typical conventions. Setting.
Detailed; specific and believably realistic settings (often very recognisable by the audience eg small towns; trains; cruise ships; well known cities) Setting is shown as a ‘mini’ society that is confined by location (we see familiar types of people you might expect to find in such a place eg vicar; school teacher; the ‘gossip’; waiters; conductors etc) Social attitudes and values at the time of writing are reflected (often the writer is making a comment about these by the way they are presented) Settings often well researched and factually detailed (especially in the case of settings in foreign countries or past times) Vicar – name for a British priest; value – accepted standards of a group or a person;

8 Typical conventions. Plotline
Often begins with a past event being shown (flashback) then goes forwards to the present time The plot is linear – starts with the crime then followed by clues, evidence, solutions and punishment. Other crimes may occur as subplots Details about the victim may be given to personalise the crime The investigation process involves false trails and clues or ‘red herrings’ which act as decoys or twists in the plot. These have to be worked through before the real villain is exposed Linear – follows a straight line;

9 Plotline Chapters often end with ‘cliff hangers’ which involve the protagonist (the main character)in a dangerous situation which can be life threatening Acts of violence, deception, high-speed chases, cryptic messages or clues are commonplace The solution (particularly in early crime fiction, before the whole ‘CSI’ thing) is arrived at through intuition and ‘smarts’ rather than forensics and police procedure Closing scenes provide resolution where ambiguous clues are explained, the puzzle solved and the criminal identified. Deception – to be false or untrue/lie; cryptic – difficult to understand; intuition – ‘gut instinct’; ambiguous - unclear

10 Characterisation Four main types with examples
The amateur (Dupin, Miss Marple, Jessica Fletcher) The private investigator (Sherlock Holmes, Marlowe, Spade, Cordelia, Poiret) The police detective (Morse, Wexford, Dalgleish) The medical examiner, criminal psychologist, pathologist (Scarpetta, ‘Bones’) Amateur – has no formal training or qualifications;

11 Characterisation All tend to be gifted with extraordinary reasoning powers Stereotypical characters such as femme fatales, corrupt policemen, and ‘hit’ men are often used to keep the reader’s focus fixed on the central mystery Disguises and deception of all kinds are used to falsify the way we see things and disguise guilt or identity The detective protagonist is often an outsider drawn by murder into an enclosed social environment (eg a social occasion; a family; a particular village or town) The investigator is an intelligent and skilled interrogator Explanations are given by the detective during the end which clearly demonstrates how the puzzle was solved Stereotypical – a standard idea of what a particular type of person is like; femme fatale – beautiful woman who men can’t resist;

12 Themes (major messages to the reader or a ‘big’ idea eg good vs evil; war and peace)
A battle of wits rather than a battle of strength The murderer is shown as a social misfit Universal themes are explored – such as good vs evil; appearance vs reality; justice vs injustice Guilt and innocence are often confused which delays the investigative process and helps build suspense A moral conflict can develop– an individuals values conflict with social expectation or the law

13 Style Suspense and tension are developed by following a type of ‘formula’ in the story The reader is challenged to become actively involved in solving the crime as well (Readers are offered most of the information that is essential to understanding the crime) Clues are found by gathering evidence and putting it together Solutions are reached as a result of the intelligence, and astute judgement of character, shown by the investigating detective Clues are often revealed through a narrator (such as Watson) who may be the companion to the detective

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