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.
K 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?