A to Z Challenge – K (WR)

It’s April again and that means it’s time for the A to Z challenge and this year, my theme for the A to Z Challenge is characters and narrators.

KK is for killers

A key component of horror and murder mystery genres is the killer (or the threat of one).

But how do you write a killer in a murder mystery or horror story?

Do you follow his or her movements?  A lot of mystery romance novels will follow the killer’s movements, partially to give the reader some clues to determine their identity and partially because in mystery romance novels, the heroine is eventually a target.  This method can serve to ratchet up the tension, by showing events from the killer’s perspective.  However, this method can also prove campy if overdone.

Or do you allow the mystery of the unknown killer to terrorize the rest of your characters?  Not seeing the bad guy can be as effective and sometimes more so, than seeing him or her.  But the issue with this method is that without proper clues, readers (or viewers) can end up feeling cheated out of the information that would have allowed them to unmask the killer.  In “The Bone Collector,” we follow the story of a young detective, under the tutelage of quadriplegic ex-homicide detective, as she tries to catch a killer.  When I saw this movie, I was reading (and attempting to write) a lot of mystery novels and fancied myself a bit of an armchair detective.  As a result, I was annoyed when the killer was revealed to be a random guy who you barely even see prior to the climax.  It’s one thing to surprise your readers – we all like a good surprise.  However, when the reader goes back through the clues it should obvious that the killer could be no one else.

Which method do you prefer? 

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15 thoughts on “A to Z Challenge – K (WR)”

  1. Your mentioning the technique of not always showing the bad guy reminds me a lot of how JK Rowling used Voldemort’s character most books haha not quite a murder mystery but just reminded me of that for whatever reason I thought it was an effective approach for her book as well

    Liked by 1 person

    1. that’s true. You don’t really see things from Voldemort’s perspective until the very end of the series, and it’s only through Harry’s “dreams.” And Rowling used it really well – both as information and to further the plot.

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      1. Yeah I agree I think she used Voldemort well to further the plot, he’s present everywhere yet he’s always absent until the end. It adds a background tension to everything. I would’ve liked some more Voldemort scenes but the infrequency of the scenes and passages makes him even more terrifying

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      2. Exactly, he is always present yet terrifyingly absent, so we’re never really sure when he’s coming. It’s one of the many things that makes the HP series so well done. I definitely need to re-read and re-appreciate them. 🙂

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      3. Definitely, his absence is terrifying. Every time he re-appears it’s a surprise and your heart starts to race. And in a weird way I appreciate how JK Rowling let it be Voldemort’s hubris that got him in the end instead of Harry reaching a superior skill level because Voldemort was all ready one of the greatest of all time so it would be unrealistic for anything to defeat Voldemort besides his own pride and overconfidence. I occasionally re-read the first one just for nostalgia’s sake haha I should re-read the whole series too 🙂

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      4. Truth I hear you on all of that, I like how you realize the horcruxes were there all along and that the diary at the start was one and Harry was too, there were a lot of nuggets haha I love the series too she’s a brilliant author 🙂

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  2. In the tradition of Sherlock Holmes, I prefer the latter “who dun it?” method. I never read a mystery romance but I can imagine how a known killer would be popular in that genre.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s true, the Sherlock method does work really well. 🙂

      And a side note: for some mystery romance novels – sometimes they make you suspect the hero for a bit as well. Weird, huh?

      Like

  3. The earliest Sherlock Holmes stories (the novel length ones, not the short stories) did the same thing, set up a mystery and then have something happen elsewhere and that becomes the crux…if the reader cannot participate in the mystery then it ruins the experience. I prefer to see the little clues in the text and get foxed by the red herrings like I am real gumshoe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly! Me too! I love to solve the clues (and try to weed out the red herrings) along with the novel’s gumshoe, it makes the book more engaging and gives me something to puzzle through that isn’t work related. :p

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