October 23, 2020-A lot of people who visit our blog are thriller/crime/mystery writers working on novels. These genres usually have more than one thing in common, but let’s talk about the most obvious, murder.
It’s important to get it right when writing murder scenes, and it’s even more important to get the character right. When I was writing Obsessed with Her, I was fortunate enough to have the head of Toronto Homicide consult me on my book; I wanted to make sure the scene was set correctly because I didn’t want to destroy any ounce of my credibility as a writer. I didn’t want cops, law enforcement officers, or savvy readers to pick up my book and say, “That’s not how it works,” while reading the crime scene events, so that’s why I brought in the experts. Research and accuracy are the keys to any great book.
When writing about murder, let’s explore some common traits of serial killers:
- Deceitful/Manipulative-What is your character hiding? Who are they lying to? How are they making other characters believe their lies?
- Lack of Empathy/Remorse-Has your character shown empathy or remorse when they’ve caused a bad situation or have hurt the feelings of another person? Do they put themselves in another’s shoes, or can they not relate?
- Compulsive-Is your character a loose cannon? Do they give in to their wants and desires no matter the cost?
- Lack of Self-Control– Does your character do what they want when they want to? Are they unable to help themselves and find themselves getting into trouble because of bad choices?
- Antisocial Behaviour-Does your character keep to themself? Do they avoid others, especially when confronted with things they’ve done wrong? Do they go out of their way to be alone?
These behaviours and characteristics need to be woven throughout your book, like a trail of breadcrumbs. Would it help your credibility as an author to create a character that is like Mary Poppins and have them go on a killing spree? Probably not. But if you showed the reader a glimpse of the above traits throughout your book, Mary Poppins could indeed be transformed into a serial killer…now there’s an idea for a book!
If you’d like to join one of our upcoming workshops, Creating Believable Characters, send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll be happy to provide you with more information and pricing. Happy Writing, X LLB