I have a new imaginary friend that demands to be written. His name is Jack and he is a conman. One problem, I don’t write crime stories, they involve too much planning and I prefer to write by the seat of my pants. So for those of you who are like me, breaking out into a new ground with a con artist character, let me share with you the a glimpse into my research.
- Think handsome/beautiful and charming
We can try to deny it all we want, but studies have shown that pretty people get further in life. As such, people are more likely to trust and be fooled by a pretty face than one that is average or has been hit by the ugly stick.
- They are always confident, no matter what
You’re not going to give your confidence over to someone who doesn’t know what he or she is doing. Even if something goes wrong in the con, or if the risks are high, your conman has to keep a poker face on. Confidence is a conman’s biggest weapon.
- Make your character a good listener
No one likes to be ignored. If your character is willing to listen to whatever the mark has to say then they will be more likely to trust them. They must also show interest in what the person is saying. Talking to someone who is obviously uninterested in what you have to say is about as enjoyable as talking to a wall and doesn’t make anyone want to befriend or trust you.
- Have them research more than a woman scorned
What does a woman do when she suspects her man of cheating? She watches him. Everywhere he goes. Everything he does. If he is cheating, she learns everything she can about the slut who is stealing her man. In order to get inside the mark’s head, your conman must know the mark better than a woman scorned. The more they know the more they have to use.
- They need to learn everything they can about their role
Frank Abagnale, the conman from the movie, Catch Me If You Can, pretended to be a pilot at seventeen in order to conduct his schemes. He got his information by calling the airport, claiming to be a student researching for a school paper, and asked to talk to a pilot. Abagnale knew his role so well he pretended to fly a plane by switching it on autopilot and hoping that it would work.
For more information on conmen, stay tuned for my later posts. I have several posts coming that will be a more in-depth look at developing a realistic conman.
Types of Cons
A Conman’s Guide to Picking Marks