So I have a lot of experience with creative non-fiction, which is how I approached writing true crime. But I had always been working with facts and experiences that are my own–and it was rather easy to make them interesting. Figuring out how to create a narrative out of my own experiences was a challenge when I first began, particularly when I took ENG 325 and 425 in the same semester (so. much. creative non-fiction. but i loved it). I really struggled with what people would find interesting about my life and how they would react to my stories. For this project, I feel very much the same. Except, these are not my stories to tell and I don’t know what the victims of the murders I am writing about would like said about them.
So it took me awhile to know where to begin with writing their stories. Eventually, I just had to suck it up and think about what I wanted to know about these young women. It was sort of the opposite of my method of deciding what to include in my personal essays. I put myself in other people’s shoes and wonder if what I am talking about would be interesting to anyone except me.
Now, I’m putting myself in the victim’s shoes and asking what they would have liked said about them. For instance, I am reading a lot about how one of the girls was really into drugs and often ran away–it was a way for the press to downplay her disappearance and highlight her “high-risk” lifestyle to bring blame to her instead of her murderer.
I do not want to do that, so I’m trying to figure out ways to include her life, without blaming her decisions.