TK Morin asks:
I have read of an interesting case here in Ontario (Canada) about a woman who has murdered two people. I’ve been intrigued, but aside from about a dozen newspaper articles, there is not much out there of the public. I, however, am lucky to get a whole lot of documents on the case. […]
I originally thought I’d tell the story from the first victim’s voice, then through the second victim’s voice. Now I’m not so sure. […]
My stumbling blocks are these: One, how do I write, or tell, the tech parts like the coroner and the like. Do you think the idea of writing a chapter, maybe an afterword, on the specifics of the manner of murder and how it’s done, a good idea? Second, it’s a true story, but I’m not sure how to “cover my butt” – like when to use a real name.
Here’s where I tell you: These questions are beyond what I can answer in a blog post. You’re at an early stage, working on an idea that fascinates you — and that’s fantastic. But it sounds like you need individual attention, either from a writing course, a conference, or a critique group — people who could work with you on developing your ideas.
The one thing I get from your question: You’re planning to use this case as the plot of a novel. Correct? If so, fictionalize everything. Trying to tell the “real” story from the victims’ points-of-view is sure to be a legal minefield. If you’re writing a novel, write a novel. And stick that note in the front matter that says, “This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual persons and events is entirely coincidental.”
Writing a story that has been inspired by real events is perfectly fine. But turn it into a complete piece of fiction.