If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

Check out our February author interviews: 2/7-debut author Keenan Powell (Alaskan lawyer), 2/14-Leslie Wheeler (Rattlesnake Hill), 2/21-bestselling author Krista Davis, who unveils a new series, 2/28-Diane Vallere answers my questions about Pajama Frame. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

Our February Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 2/3-Saralyn Richard, 2/10-Kathryn Lane. WWK's Margaret H. Hamilton will blog on 2/17, and Kait Carson on 2/24.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fifth Course of Chaos.


Monday, March 3, 2014

The First Time....You Bumped Off a Character

Last week Linda Rodriguez wrote about the death count in Game of Thrones. The world of George R. R. Martin is a dangerous one, and Death acts accordingly in Westeros, taking innocent and guilty alike. Martin kills off beloved characters, shocking and impressing his fans with his take no prisoners – and save no favorites – literary attack. The story is all. He means business.

A writer who kills off a beloved character is taking a chance. I’ll never forget reading the scene in Jane Eyre where (SPOILER ALERT – BUT REALLY, YOU HAVEN’T READ JANE EYRE?) Jane’s friend Helen dies in her arms. I don’t know if I’ll ever forgive Charlotte Bronte for killing her.

In a murder mystery, especially a traditional mystery, part of the fun can be seeing which character is the first to get bumped off. This character is usually someone who has done people wrong – a lot of people wrong. Then there is a pool of suspects who have every reason to resort to murder.

As I was polishing the manuscript of my novel it hit me that my murder victim was an absolutely wonderful person – giving, funny, talented. I started to feel bad about his death. I started to wonder if maybe I should just, well, injure or maim him. Maybe hit him with something temporary, like a well-timed soap opera coma, and have him revive at the end?

Well, rest assured Writers Who Kill, I soon stopped that nonsense. I realized that the death of a “good” character left voids and scars that deepened the emotional lives of the surviving characters. And it made me see the depth of my killer’s depravity. Utterly despicable! Enjoyably despicable!

Who was your first victim? Was it just desserts or just a shame?


Gayle Carline said...

I seem to start the murders with a generally nice/benign character. At least liked well enough. Then I kill off some unpleasant people, usually because I set them up as suspects. That seems to be the kiss of death for them.

James Montgomery Jackson said...

The first character I killed was a nice guy – not perfect – but truly a nice person. The question, of course, was whether it was a mistake or intentional, and if intentional, then why.

~ Jim

E. B. Davis said...

My first "kill" was a truly terrible man and father. His twelve-year-old daughter, who he was sexually abusing, killed him using only her beach bucket and shovel. It took courage, but she had no choice. The father was threatening to abuse her little sister.

Sarah Henning said...

My first "kill" was someone who was a pawn of the killer's. I never really explored who this person was. But I was 22 and really didn't realize that I should give every victim a good back story, even if we only "meet" them later and who they are isn't important.

Sarah Henning said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Warren Bull said...

My first kill was an innocent man whose strange disappearance started rumors flying about other innocent men.

Sherry Harris said...

Great post, Shari! I've done a lot of thinking about killing off beloved characters -- especially in the cozy world.

KM Rockwood said...

Killing off characters is tough--even the bad guys have become my "children." Nobody is all evil or all good, so there have to be mixed feelings. And I'm friends with some people who have done some fairly terrible things. In an unthinking moment, I promised one buddy I'd be his witness if he was ever convicted of another murder & executed. Thank goodness he seems to have gone reasonably straight. Or at least not been caught. And the state has effectively done away with the death penalty, so I don't think I'll have to make good on the promise.

That said, most of the characters I've killed off are not going to be hugely missed.

Shari Randall said...

Hi everyone - I am impressed by the range of motives and situation for your first victims. It's given me a lot to think about - how we use that choice of victim to set up characterization, plot, and theme.
EB - First time I've heard of beach bucket and shovel as weapons, but I must say your vic had it coming.

Kara Cerise said...

Good post, Shari. The first character I “killed” was a surgeon who preferred money over patient safety.

Gloria Alden said...

Interesting post, Shari. My first victim was not nice at all so there were a lot of suspects. Then I killed off a sympathetic character in the same book. Since then, I've killed off both nice, so-so or not very nice characters.

The hardest thing for me, is the murderer. I write a biography of him/her in advance to know how and why he/she decides to do such a deed, and then I feel horrible when he/she has to suffer for killing their victim. But it's usually the family of my murderers who suffer the most and I feel sorriest for.

Kara, I murdered a doctor for the same reason in one of my short stories.

Shari Randall said...

Gloria - writing a bio of the killer - what a good idea. We do need to understand where the killer is coming from. And you and Kara now have me worried about going to the doctor.... ;)

Gloria Alden said...

Shari, are you remembering the short I wrote, "The Murder of Dr. Hart?"

The only problem, as I mentioned, Shari, is starting to like your murderer. Few people are actually evil and all bad unless they're a psychopath or something, and I don't write those kinds of books. I don't want to delve into a truly sick and psychotic mind.