Tag Archives: interrogation

where’s your torture tag? I don’t see it

It’s here, though there’s only one post in the tag, along with a Burn Notice quote that sums torture up rather succinctly. For rather obvious reasons, it’s not a topic we’re particularly eager to deal with.

The two good contemporary resources on the subject I can point to are Taxi to the Dark Side (2007), and Fear up Harsh by Tony Lagouranis.

On a lighter note, there’s also an Interrogation tag, though, I don’t think that’s what you’re looking for.


could you write something on kidnapping for information?

If you haven’t yet, I’d start here, and follow with this.

We never got into actually talking about grabbing someone for information, but the basic idea is still the same. Your kidnappers need to go through all the steps necessary to grab someone, but they don’t need to worry about ever releasing or ransoming the victim. The other difference is the victim is the most important part of the equation (for the kidnappers), unlike in a conventional kidnapping for money, where they’re just a bargaining chip.

They’ll also need a way to break the victim. The simplest answer, “grab a crowbar and go to town” doesn’t actually work. Torture isn’t a means to obtain information. So, as I said in the interrogation answer, this is going to be about talking the character around.

Also, it’s worth pointing out that Sodium Pentothol does exist. But, it’s just a barbiturate, not truth serum. So while it will sedate someone, and make them easier to hold and transport, it won’t actually make them spill their guts. Also, in larger doses, it’s used in lethal injections. So, that fine line between stoned off their ass and dead, is an issue.


so… how would you/burn notice recommend interrogating someone, if not with violence? thanks so much!

This is going to be like any other, adversarial, dialog sequence. You have two characters talking to each other, and they both want different things, and they’re going to try to convince the other character to give them what they want.

Anything with good dialog, and people arguing or trying to manipulate one another can be fodder for this kind of scene.

I would avoid good cop/bad cop. Not because it’s unrealistic, or because it doesn’t work, but because it’s so damned cliche at this point. The fact is, in police interviews, they don’t even need to introduce a bad cop. (They also don’t call them “interrogations”; always “interviews.” It’s 1984 style newspeak, but it also avoids conjuring up the images of telephone books and rubber hoses.)

Making friends is one way for your interrogator to get what they want, tricking them is another. Mixing those you can have your interrogator trying to convince the other character that they’re really on their side, either by being sympathetic (what police will usually do), or by convincing them that they’re a covert member of their organization.

Just remember, it’s just your character trying to persuade someone else, that’s all.


Getting useful information is about creating a new reality for the interrogation subject with no hope of escape or freedom. You control every aspect of their world: how they eat, where they sleep, even whether it’s day or night. When it’s time to ask questions, you want them disoriented, anxious, wondering who you are and what you can do to them. You have to make them understand that their entire future their hopes, their dreams, and every breath they will ever take from then on, it all depends on one thing: Talking

Michael Westen, Burn Notice 204: “Comrades”