Top TED Talks Crime Writing

Top 5 TED Talks for the Aspiring Crime Writer

Step one on my journey to learning more about crime fiction was to hit up TED. There is surprisingly little to find on this particular topic but after a little searching here are some of my fave related topics:

1. Marc Goodman in A Vision of Crimes in the Future

With previous experience in the Police and in Counter-Terrorism, Marc provides fascinating insight into what the future of ‘crime’ could involve; he explores the possibility of 3D printing, cyber crimes and weaponised disease. In the Mumbai 2008 terrorist attacks, the terrorists actually set up an Operation Centre in nearby Pakistan, where they monitored social media, the BBC and CNN to get real-time updates on the success of their plan. Criminals are more sophisticated than ever before.

Food for thought:

I found the bit about drones loaded with weapons frankly terrifying. I would love to know enough about this subject to write a high-tech thriller about biowarfare; the possibilities to create a story here are endless. I feel I’d really need to know my stuff to write a modern day tech-based crime though, further reading definitely required!


2. Jim Fallon in Exploring the Mind of a Killer

Neuroscientist Jim explores the importance of timing in the creation of a killer. When the MAO-A high-risk violence gene is coupled with serious trauma before puberty, a psychopath is born.

Food for thought:

I love reading about criminal psychology, and this got me thinking, what is the difference between a psychopath and a sociopath? Further research into this topic could help to frame your killers’ backstory and motivation for murder.


3. Philip Zimbardo in The Psychology of Evil

At 23 minutes this is a bit of a slog but keep with it, Zimbardo’s studies are fascinating. He explores the theory that ‘evil’ is the exercise of power to intentionally harm others, and how easy to fall into this trap… The power of anonymity could empower us all to either carry out evil acts or become the hero.

Food for thought:

This would make for a fascinating character arc, a seemingly ‘good’ person committing a terrible act once anonymised. In what ways could your character become anonymous? Under cover of darkness? In a town where no one knows who you are? In a chatroom?


4. Karen Thompson Walker in What Fear Can Teach Us

I enjoyed Karen’s use of the tale of the whaleship Essex (the inspiration behind Moby Dick) to consider how we might re-frame the way we think about our fears.

Food for thought:

It is very easy for us to imagine ourselves in horrifying but unlikely scenarios, rather than to logically consider the probability of that fearful situation happening to us. I take away from this to attempt to dream up a vivid, truly bone chilling scenario for my victims, as a reader easily invests in this.


5. J.J.Abrams in The Mystery Box

This is a looong TED talk but stick with it until the end. The message here is interesting, that it’s what we don’t see that interests us in the realm of fear. And what of the hidden stories in our favourite cult films?

Food for thought:

This got me thinking about how the unknown helps in building suspense: as soon as you see the ghost in a horror film the fear is gone. In what ways could you keep a mystery under wraps to keep a reader interested? The characters real identity or appearance? A hidden detail about the murder or victim?


Over to you

What did you think of this list? Which was your favourite TED talk? Let me know!

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