You know you want to do it. If you could get away with murder, you’d go ahead and do it, right? Imagine the injustices you could fix.
Of course you want to fix injustices. *wink*
As a writer of fiction, inspiration to motivate a character to commit a murder can come from anywhere. It can come from a leaf falling to the earth, a child’s first tear, or simple, unbridled hatred.
Although the former two are somewhat unexpected muses, when it comes to writing fiction, it’s not impossible to exercise some clever literary acrobatics to link all three and come up with a strong, compelling, yet sophisticated narrative about committing murder. (Think The Butterfly Effect.)
Psychological thrillers often lean towards the emotional shadows of human beings, revealing the seediest sides of their lives so you and I can take a peek into a wonderful darkness we rarely get to see or experience.
Who commits a murder anyway?
Me… or you.
That tattooed guy in the torn leather jacket is an obvious candidate. Clearly, he’s a villain awaiting some deserved jail time.
‘He’s the killer officer! Cuff ‘im! He’s still holding the bat! See?’
Ooops! Did we just land in a cliche by tripping over a stereotype? What about Granny Maye?
Granny Maye was also present at the time of the killing but she couldn’t have done it. She’s a sweet old lady who bakes cookies for the homeless. She’s a devout Christian. There’s no way this God-fearing senior could’ve sent someone packing.
Let me tell you, Christian cookie makers are the worst kind of villains. No one expects a little old lady to be a murderer. Granny could’ve walked in, slit some throats and walked out with bloodied knives and still no one would’ve believed it was possible.
Lock-up that evil bitch right now!
Tilting fiction away from the predictable is my preferred writing style. Cliches are nice if an author wants to accelerate a story line and help readers to read fast – but where’s the challenge in that?
Outwardly good people can be inherently bad. It’s true. And some readers may just want to see who those people might be and come to understand why they do what they do.
Back to the guy and his dead ex-girlfriend.
Oh, what? Huh? Did we just change the channel?
No. There was a murder. Remember?
There was a baseball bat. Her head was destroyed by a stick of willow.
Blood and bits of skull went everywhere. The news reports used words like ‘viscous’ and ‘cold-blooded’. Every wall and floor in her home was covered in her bodily fluids. It was a mess inside there.
It appears that she got up from the first clubbing and moved about afterwards. There were signs that she staggered from room to room, the bludgeoning continuing until her body couldn’t stagger about them any more.
The details to his arrest were cut and dry. He said he’d never been inside her house and that part wasn’t true. He’d been inside the home. The fingerprint on her dining-room’s light-switch was a clear match to his. He’d lied and everyone knew it.
Our leather clad tattooed villain now has another cliche attached to him. It’s called ‘Lying Bastard.’
Jail is the happy-ever-after for villains like him, right?
If you agree, it’s time to leave. You’re wrong. I don’t write for Disney.
If he wasn’t the killer, then this story becomes a lot more intriguing. Who did the job on his ex-girlfriend? Why did he lie?
There’s a mystery or two at hand. We have a fingerprint in a place where it shouldn’t be, a liar and someone else who knows how to swing a bat. It’s two separate yet entwined stories. One follows a line to the tragedies genre while the other falls into horror.
It was a rush to end the perfect crime fairy tale and the police arrested that ‘Lying Bastard’ without hesitation. They gave the public their happy ending and became heroes. Everyone slept better at night.
They also failed to arrest a murderer.
It didn’t matter. Happy endings are better. They satisfy everyone.
The young man was held by the system for eighteen months and remained in custody until his trial was over. He was acquitted for, you guessed it, lack of evidence.
No one but the court and his family knew of his acquittal. The frenzy surrounding his arrest wasn’t there at his release. He had lost his job, his girlfriend, his credibility and a good portion of his future as a result of this botched investigation.
Although it sounds like poorly written fiction, this particular story is real. It really happened this way.
In short, it came down to that fingerprint and a dumb lie. He lied for a good reason – a stupid one considering what it means now – but it saved him from dealing with his jealous new girlfriend.
‘Don’t ever go into that bitch’s house,’ she demanded, ‘or it’s fucking over!’
It infuriated her that his prior relationship to that bitch had produced a child. If it were up to her, she’d stop child visitations altogether – but doing that would’ve made her a bigger bitch than the bitch she despised.
‘Pick him up at the front gate. DON’T go inside, EVER!’
Kids are kids. They don’t care about the demands of daddy’s new girlfriend. What would she know about getting kids ready for access weekends with their father?
It’s not surprising a fingerprint was found inside the front door – but only there, only on that light switch.
When the police questioned him, they did so in front of his extremely jealous girlfriend.
‘No,’ he replied, ‘I’ve never been inside her home. Never.’
And that one lie changed his life forever.
Blood you ask? Baseball bats on human flesh produce spatter, a lot of it. It goes everywhere. Let’s not ask those questions. We want a happy story. Happy stories have happy endings.
Who commits a murder? Anyone can commit a murder just like anyone can go to jail.
Happy stories about crime include jail.
As a writer, it’s very tempting to expose such errors, right this wrong by providing an alternate, accurate story. It’d be a way to let the police know that they didn’t do their job… and to keep the public informed as to the failures behind some crime investigations.
Alas, I’m not that kind of writer. I’ll leave that for others to rectify. You’re more likely to read evil-meets-evil inside the pages of my novels.
Life isn’t perfect. Sure, it has its good, cliched moments, but evil’s anarchy exists too. That’s the path I choose to walk when writing my stories. Good doesn’t always save my kind of day. Killers don’t always get caught.
When writing Darkness Awakes, I looked at our strange fascination with fear and the desire for happy-ever-afters to make evil disappear. Why arrange a perfect paradigm each and every time? What about a bent alternative?
I like to ruin that order by giving fear an upper-hand.
Here’s how one such story goes:
Jamie’s fear was about losing his new girlfriend. A ‘Lying Bastard’ paid for the community’s fear and went to jail for it.
The police feared the public would lose confidence in their ability to manage crime affectively. Their happy story was to get their man and prove them wrong.
The public got what they wanted because fear and fairytales made it so.
They didn’t get me and my baseball bat and that was my happy ending.
See you in the pages of Darkness Awakes.
“Forman’s writing style is artful, with the protagonist Mitchell’s warped thought processes masterfully exposed. The author has a powerful and vivid command of language and his word pictures are stark and disturbingly real.”– Linda J Bettenay, author of ‘Secrets Mothers Keep’ and ‘Wishes For Starlight’.