It’s a question of body count

I often wonder if other mystery authors start a book with the number of characters that are going to die in mind. I generally don’t. I start with one victim and go from there. It’s just how I work, much like how I live, in a reactionary, fly by the seat of my pants sort of way.

There are many reasons I choose to kill off a character. The most obvious one is the murder moves the plot along. That’s a murder that is essential to the flow of the story, and the one that is usually first.

Then there is the character that I decide to murder because he or she knows too much and I need obstacles for my main characters. A person of interest may be too obvious to keep alive, so the murderer takes him or her out.

There are, of course, the murders I decree because the character is too evil to be left alive. I don’t think I’ve let a single villain live longer than a few books. They never go to jail, at least not yet. I think it’s my own inner sense of justice that predicates those murders. They deserve to die. Sounds simple to me.

Some murders occur to ramp up the emotion of the story. ¬†These are also the characters who usually don’t deserve to die. They are a reminder that death does and should affect us with some proportion of sadness, even if the deaths are fictional. I won’t lie. I’ve cried writing the aftermaths of some of my murders.

I’m currently working out a murder in my head of a character that I hadn’t originally planned on taking out. Let’s just say, this one is tricky, but the best ones usually are. I’m looking forward to sharing it with you soon.

Comments are closed.