Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Take Ten Paces Forward, Turn, and...huh?

Alright, crime writers, what might your choice of weapons be?

Do you prefer a subtle and painless type of kill, like sedatives or some other type of drug, administered unbeknownst to the victim? Or,

Do you prefer the up close and personal type of kill, like using a garrote, a knife, or even your own two hands? Or,

Do you prefer a detached, silent type of kill, like a handgun with a silencer? Or,

Do you prefer a devasting, attention-grabbing kill, like using a bomb or arson, sometimes taking others out along with your intended?

This is a question that we, as those who write crime fiction, must answer time and again. As diabolical as it sounds, this is an issue we must face and resolve at the beginning of every piece of crime fiction we create, whether it be a short story or a novel. When preparing to begin to tell our tale, we must first examine our characters and our general plotline. Those who use the outline process would do the same. We carefully plan out who will be the 'bad' guy, or guys if applicable, and who will be the victim, or victims depending on the story. Then the work really starts.

First, you would need to explore the relationship between your killer and your victim, or even if there is one.

If you are creating a serial killer type of character, then the victims would be 'selected' ones. History tells us generally speaking, serial killers kill all their victims the same way. Now, if we've learned anything from history, nothing is ever absolute. Once you decide how your serial killer disposes of his victims, you might want to re-think being too predictable. Your weapon could still be consistent, but perhaps vary the circumstances a bit. Just something to consider. When you choose your weapon though, with a serial killer scenario, you probably want to stay away from grandiose gestures, like bombs or arson. Up close and personal types of kills would probably be the way to go.

If you are creating a spree killer type of character, again, history tells us those types of killers stay on the move, so you might want to consider a less intimate method. Guns, silenced or not, might be a good bet, possibly even a knife. They come in, they strike, they're gone, and on the lookout for another random kill.

When your killer, however, has some type of relationship with their victim - a real one, as in friends, acquaintences, or spouses - you may prefer a more hands-on method, like strangulation. One thing your killer might consider however, is strangulation is always homicide, while a drug overdose could be misinterpreted by the police as an accident or suicide. This would be a great weapon to use in the case of a mystery, where you don't want your readers to even suspect a crime has been committed until further on.

Then, you have those who commit their kill and then set fires to mislead the police and try to destroy evidence. This can also be a good plotline and add to the air of mystery. Was the fire the result of faulty wiring or was it arson? Great sub-plot potential there. If your crimes travel the road of high-end terrorism or espionage, then bombs might be your pick.

There's a lot to consider when you sit down to write a crime story. Great - you know who will do the killing and you know who will be killed. But how? While your weapon may or may not be a focal point of your story, it is still an important one. Look at all your options and be creative. Choosing the right weapon could add a whole new layer of suspense to your storyline.

One last thing: Remember always, when it comes to making your choice, as is the case for any other aspect of your story, research, research, and research. Don't just say 'so and so dropped eight sleeping pills in her bourbon'. Maybe eight sleeping pills wouldn't kill anyone; maybe they'd just cause an upset stomach after a twelve-hour nap. Don't ever assume this, that and the other will be fatal and undetectable. Your readers may not be forensic pathologists or chemists, but they will be able to see through a flawed murder plot, and then you've lost them. And we never want that to happen, now, do we...

No comments:

Post a Comment