Photo by Matt Popovich on Unsplash

Given Showrunner Sarah Dodd’s CSA winning talent for binge worthy police drama, we are pretty excited to reveal that the scripted series lab is working on a new crime series. I asked our writers if they had any advice for nailing the obligatory scenes and conventions of this beloved genre and here are some of their notes:

You’ve got to have the bullpen recap to summarize what’s known so far in the investigative line and to clarify the direction of the investigation.

Your cops have to talk about the case while driving in the car!

The protagonists need to drive their scenes. They are acting out their own strategies, and we find deliciousness in the surprises that befall them.

Treat every suspect as a potential killer. Keep their motives and opportunities in mind.

You need to really humanize the victim.

Have a red herring switch that’s going to flip the investigation on its head.

As one of my favorite experts on story, Shawn Coyne, explains, “Conventions are elements in the story that must be there or the reader will be confused, unsettled, or bored out of their skull.” Coyne has three steps for finding your obligatory scenes and conventions in his “the Story Grid” podcast:

  1. Decide which kind of story you want to tell.
  2. Find other stories like the one you want to tell.
  3. List all the things they have in common.

We barely scratched the surface with our crime drama tropes, so what did we miss?