Looking for a plot twist or a dramatic moment? Police blotters may be the answer. They are a perfect cure for writer’s block. Blotters don’t supply all the information you need to understand a situation, just what happened. The emotions and motivations are completely left to the imagination.
Here’s an entry from a San Francisco blotter:
Officer Amoroso and Officer Sugitan were sent to O’Farrell St. and Larkin St. to meet with a victim of a stabbing. The victim reported that he was walking in the area when three men offered to sell him drugs. Instead of walking away, ignoring the men, or saying, “no,” the man said he wanted to buy hashish. The men asked how much and the victim said, “Just kidding, I have no money.” The sellers became irate and pushed the victim away. Again, tempting fate, the victim pushed one of the dealers. The incensed dealers then struck the victim with a cane, stabbed him with a knife and started to pummel him with fists. The victim, now fearing for his life, was able to extract himself, despite repeated attempts to stab him again. The victim fled and called the police. The victim was not able to identify his attackers, despite the fact that the officers detained two men who fit the description provided. The incident is under investigation.
What kind of a day was the victim having that caused him to act that way? What happened to him immediately before this incident? He joked with dangerous people and then pushed one. He could be having a bad day. Or maybe he just got out of his therapist’s office after being told that he should use his sense of humor to make more friends.
There are so many questions to be answered it’s a perfect short story.
Here’s another from Dartmouth College
Dartmouth Safety and Security reported to Hanover Police that a man had repeatedly feigned drowning to entice lifeguards, usually female Dartmouth students, to swim out to him and discover that he was not wearing any clothing. After detaining 28-year-old Luis Hurtado of Miami, Fla., Hanover Police learned that Hurtado had overstayed his welcome in the United States and turned him in to Border Patrol.
Imagine having a character bio like that for a minor character in a novel.
Just type “police blotter” in google and you’ll have inspiration galore.