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How to Do a True Crime Show

August 24, 2015

Or a ghost-hunting show, or a forensics show, or anything investigating and sensationalizing things to do with death:

  1. Read my recommendations for writing a ghost story. Follow all of them.
  2. Especially make sure to end every major scene with “… or was it?”, “… or did they?”, or something in that vein.
  3. If your investigators or narrator can jump to conclusions re: murder, incest, human sacrifice, cannibalism, or anything similarly horrific, do so as often as possible. (3a. If investigating a haunted house, make sure to jump at every noise.)
  4. Identify the moment that will make your viewers grow sad or attached to the victims. Script your show so you tease that moment throughout, but deliver at the end. It’s your money shot to keep them watching.
  5. If your investigators don’t know the science or history related to their case, don’t worry! Surely your viewers don’t either…
  6. The more technology you can use, and the more times you can say “new information” or “new perspective”, the better.

In other news, I may have gotten hooked on History Cold Case this last week, and I may crack up too often when the scientists express surprise that people once practiced human sacrifice or were grave robbers, etc. Most Haunted is also very good, for a similar blending of interesting historical fact and occasionally hilarious scripting.

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