Sensitive Handling of Sensitive Materials: Writing True Crime

with Neil McKay

Sensitive Handling of Sensitive Materials: Writing True Crime image

As the brilliant mind behind projects such as The Moorside, See No Evil: The Moors Murders and Mo, industry titan Neil McKay has mastered the subtle art of dramatizing stories of true crime. While mining the depravity humanity is capable of, it is necessary to have a delicate touch, as victims’ families and other real-world innocents could be harmed if the material is not handled deftly.

In this informative session, learn from a true master of the craft:

  • How to identify the best true crime story to dramatize.
  • The best strategy for acquiring life rights for your subjects.
  • Separating the difference between writing the truth of a story, and writing the facts
  • Condensing facts to invent new ‘truth’
  • How to avoid cliche and overly dramatic writing while maintaining genre expectation and narrative drive

A true crime script can impact an audience in ways that pure fiction may be unable to achieve. However, retaining empathy and avoiding prurience is always a risk. Writers of true crime must serve two masters: the audience and the “characters” who exist in the real world. Neil McKay will help you thread that needle and guide you to storytelling success.

Appearing in this session

Neil McKay

Neil McKay – Screenwriter

Credits include: The Moorside, See No Evil, Mo

Neil's most recent drama 'The Moorside', about the abduction of Shannon Matthews in Dewsbury in 2008 was broadcast on BBC to widespread critical acclaim earlier this year.
Neil McKay