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

October Interviews
10/2 Debra H. Goldstein, Two Bites To Many
10/10 Connie Berry, A Legacy of Murder
10/17 Lida Sideris, Double Murder or Nothing
10/23 Toni L. P. Kelner writing as Leigh Perry, The Skeleton Stuffs A Stocking
10/30 Jennifer David Hesse, Autumn Alibi

Saturday Guest Bloggers:
10/5 Ang Pompano
10/12 Eyes of Texas Anthology Writers
10/19 Neil Plakcy

WWK Bloggers: 10/26 Kait Carson


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Lyrical Press will publish Kaye George's Vintage Sweets mystery series. The first book, Revenge Is Sweet, will be released in March. Look for the interview here on 3/11.

Shari Randall will be writing again for St. Martin's, perhaps under a pseudonym. We look forward to reading Shari's Ice Cream Shop Mystery series debuting next year. Congratulations, Shari!

Susan Van Kirk's A Death At Tippett Pond was released on June 15th. Read E. B. Davis's interview with Susan.

KM Rockwood's "Frozen Daiquiris" appears in The Best Laid Plans: 21 Stories of Mystery & Suspense, edited by Judy Penz Sheluk. The anthology was released on June 18th.

Fishy Business anthology authors include KM Rockwood, Debra Goldstein, and James M. Jackson. This volume was edited by Linda Rodriguez.

Please read Margaret S. Hamilton and Debra Goldstein's short stories (don't ask about their modus operandi) in a new anthology, Cooked To Death Vol. IV: Cold Cut Files.

Warren Bull's Abraham Lincoln: Seldom Told Stories was released. It is available at: GoRead: https://www.goread.com/book/abraham-lincoln-seldom-told-stories or at Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/ydaklx8p

Grace Topping's mystery, Staging is Murder was released April 30.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Revenge As Motive

AVENGE, REVENGE-both imply to inflict pain or harm in return for pain or harm inflicted on oneself or those persons or causes to which one feels loyalty. The two words were formerly interchangeable, but have been differentiated until they now convey widely diverse ideas. AVENGE is now restricted to inflicting punishment as an act of retributive justice or as a vindication of propriety: to avenge a murder by bringing the criminal to trial. REVENGE implies inflicting pain or harm to retaliate for real or fancied wrongs; a reflexive pronoun is often used with this verb: Iago wished to revenge himself upon Othello.

Using revenge as a motive for murder is quite realistic. Many people are insecure. They are overly concerned about others’ opinions of them. At the first perceived slight, the person who feels injured reacts defensively but this reaction may escalate into offensive action.

What drives people to act in revenge?

A perpetrator’s actions challenge some aspect of the victim’s identity, such as his masculinity, his standing in the community, his success in monetary matters, or his fidelity in his marriage. There are many more examples, but it gets personal, hits home, invokes his “fight” survival mechanism and aggression results. Sometimes revenge starts in passive aggressive forms; the derisive comment, a social payback, a takeover in business in various forms, a nasty substance slipped into a drink, etc. But the aggression can escalate to—murder. The threat to the victim is eliminated by the death of his enemy and his identity can then be restored because the source of his challenged identity is gone. The perpetrator’s opinions and aspersions die with his death.

Betrayal is another aspect of revenge. Any broken contract is perceived as betrayal. Emotional betrayals are more prone to violence, but usually those murders are considered crimes of passion. Premeditated murder is more complex and controlled. There is a temporary detachment from emotions, at least while revenge is conceived. The mechanical brain takes over to plan murder. The revenge is justified by the victim on the grounds that the perpetrator wouldn’t have committed the wrongdoing in the first place if he had a conscience, so there is no need to take the high road and confront the perpetrator, which would lead to more abuse or ridicule. Revenge negates the need to take a higher moral road. The victim acts with stealth to enact revenge—making that motive all the more compelling for the writer.

When someone uses revenge it is a reaction to having been wronged, or at least, that’s the victim’s perception, and he assumes that the perpetrator has evil intent. The original perpetrator may be clueless that his actions hurt someone, and this obtuseness may indicate the perpetrator’s insensitivity or the victim’s oversensitivity, which can complicate a plot and change the reader’s perception of the original wrongdoer, which may be a figment of an antagonist’s imagination.

In the case of actual wrongdoing, the victim may be portrayed by the writer as avenging a wrong. People respond positively to avenge because it balances the scales of justice, like heavenly avenging angels, who enact “an eye for an eye,” compensating the victim. Avenge is measured through a continuum in which “0” represents a neutral, balanced relationship. As soon as a wrong is committed, the perpetrator zooms to “10” on the continuum and knocks his victim to “-10.” When the victim fights back avenging the wrongdoing, he knocks the perpetrator and himself back to “0” on the scale of justice and thus they are now even again—the victim of the original wrongdoing has gained equality. But of course, revenge, which usually involves a heinous act that is twice as bad as the original wrongdoing, just reverses the perpetrator’s and victim’s positions.

Is revenge one of your favorite motivations, too?

“Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”

“While you are meditating revenge, the devil is meditating a recruit.”
Francois de Malherbe

“Revenge proves its own executioner.”
John Ford

“The best revenge is massive success.”
Frank Sinatra



Jacqueline Seewald said...

Revenge is certainly a strong motive for murder. Someone feels wronged or slighted for reasons real or imaginary. Other motives connect to money (greed), and sex--but that can also relate to revenge. A complex and thought-provoking subject. Excellent topic for those of us who write crime and mystery fiction.

Jacqueline Seewald
THE TRUTH SLEUTH--new release from Five Star/Gale

E. B. Davis said...

I think that revenge is fun for the writer because it plucks at our more base instincts. We wouldn't stoop so low. But then again, in fiction...why not! Kinda yummy.

Warren Bull said...

Nice discussion of a complex emotion. Most people "going postal" feel they are completely justified.

Pauline Alldred said...

Thinking of clever retaliations to remarks that hurt our feelings feels good and more than one writer has said they enjoy thinking up smart responses.

If a person dwells on an injury, real or imagined, it's easy to see how the person could turn to plotting revenge.

I'd guess a person who responds more emotionally to others and the environment is more likely to want to hurt back.

Interesting topic.

Polly said...

I confess. I love revenge in books and movies, and I can be pretty bloodthirsty about it. I've also written a revenge subplot. I'm not sure what it says about me. Don't know if I want to know.

E. B. Davis said...

I think it's only natural, Polly. We're guided into "correct" behavior all of our lives and sometimes don't get the best from others in return. We wouldn't stoop so low as to retaliate, unless to protect (usually our kids). So, in fiction it's fun to read about someone doing what we wouldn't do and to the extreme. Those cutting come backs, that knife in the back and then, there's murder. The wacky, rich fudge of fiction. When I have a stack of books that I want to read in front of me, I sometimes think of them as a sampler box of chocolates. Delicious, delectable and saucy!

Donnell said...

Revenge: It's the entire motive for my book (with no name yet) coming out in September, 2011. It was tough to write because I've been raised to turn the other cheek. I so didn't like being in that character's head.

So, I made up for it in Deadly Recall. Naturally there's a lot of murder involved. But my protag forgives every person who ever wronged her.

Love your saying by Confucius. Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.

So true! Great, post, E.B.

E. B. Davis said...

Thanks Donnell! I rarely get into the antogonist's head-one book I did. My protagonists are great people so I don't mind creating them. But, the protagonist has to become aware of the reason for the murder to solve it, so she can't be too naive or inexperienced. I'm not sure what normal behavior is, but when behavior is dangerous, then it's abnormal.

Leslie Lim said...

I love reading, I love blogging, and I love comments! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and have a wonderful day!

Books and Manual