Writing Gang Murders

I’m ready to jump back into Mauro Corvasce and Joseph Paglino’s book, Murder one: A Writer’s Guide to Homicide after nearly two weeks off for holidays and sickness. Chapter five deals with gang murders, and while the prospect of writing about gangs does little for me, you (my three loyal readers) might gain something from this topic, so I won’t skip it. 

The authors begin with a quick overview of gang beginnings in the 1920s, then move on to statistics. I found this part interesting. In 1996, large cities (New York, Chicago, etc) focused 73% of their work force on gang-related crimes. As a girl from a small town that grew into a mid-sized city, that percentage floors me. Then the book says that in smaller communities, 45 to 55 percent of police work is related to gang crime. “Firearms are involved in 83 percent of the current workload, and a good portion of this is due to firearm availability to gangs and juveniles.”

Bottom line: if your book is set in a moderate-to-large city, odds are the bulk of the crimes your hero will investigate are related to gangs in some fashion. When organizing your street gang, keep in mind that there are three groups: gang members (usually referred to as gang-bangers), gang associates, and non-gang members. 

Gang violence used to be contained to gangs only. Gang A would assault or kill members of Gang B to gain control of turf. They still do that, but now the violence has spread. Victims can be anybody: rival gang members, brother gang members, customers (drugs/prostitutes), innocent bystanders–basically anyone within range of a gang member. That’s scary enough in the real word, but as an author, you can use that to boost the terror. Just because your upper-income yuppie works in the “safe” part of the city doesn’t mean gang violence won’t find him.

I’m two pages into chapter 5, and I’m out of room in this blog post. I’ll continue the discussion next time.

-Sonja
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