50 Ways To Kill Your Character
An excerpt from LAKERS: Murder on the Water
“Janis then flung the rock into the depths of the water below.
She looked down at her feet where Joe lay just moments ago and
kicked the dirt to break up the streaks of blood that began to soak
the ground where Joe fell. Double checking with her flashlight to
ensure she removed any trace of a struggle.
She stood at the top of the cliff for a few minutes before she
turned to leave. The others would be looking for her soon.
But first, she had to take care of the boat.”
From the Novel Lakers: Murder on the Water by L.L. Abbott
Ah…let me count the ways!
Whether it is to write a character out of a story, add intrigue to an existing plot or to use as the centre focus for your Mystery Novel – killing a character is a common method for most mystery and thriller writers.
Why? “Because it is so final!” Kate yelled out. A keen friend and an important sounding board when I am in the need to bounce ideas off a friend who won’t worry about my malevolent motives – she never holds back.
When you need to draw a reader into your story you need to have them care about finding out what happened, and it is even better if they can relate to the character. That also can include the murderer.
In Lakers: Murder on the Water, I focused on a common theme (tension at summer cottages and secrets hidden among friends and family) and twisted in a murder (or two) to keep things interesting. Relating the reader to the character that is murdered is a great way to pull the reader into the story because they care about solving the murder and bringing the killer to justice.
But what if the reader relates more to the murderer? Now the writer has created a conflict for the reader. Not only does the reader want to see justice at the end of the novel, but they may also see the point of view of the killer. Maybe a little too easily. Who does the reader end up cheering for? I guess that depends on how each character is portrayed in the novel.
When the book was finished I had people ask me if any of the characters were drawn from people I knew from the cottage. My answer is always the same: “People are the greatest inspiration and imagination the greatest muse.”