Friday, January 12, 2007

Weekend 2: The victim speaks

victim.jpgSecond weekend with "Weekend Novelist Writes a Mystery": Interview the killer.

There are four parts to the work on the victim:

1. Monologue
2. Character sketch
3. Killer connection
4. Steps to the murder
5. Plotting with scene cards

1. Monologue
Write in the first person, the hopes and dreams and fears of the victim. In the authors' example, they wrote an internal monologue of the victim's feelings and hopes and running commentary written in the present tense as she went about the events preceding the murder.

I didn't find it natural to create both events and feelings at the same time so ended up with something that sounded more like a series of diary entries, expressing her feelings towards the various people.
2. Character sketch
This covers the same information as you did for the killer: personal, objects, character links, resource base. (If your mystery has more than one victim, describe the victim that opens the book.)

Use it as a way to draw out more of the character and how who she is gets revealed in what she looks like (what did her hopes and dreams and hobbies do to her physical appearance), how she dresses (what was she dressed in and why those particular clothes), objects she kept around her. (The sleuth will use all these to go the opposite direction, creating a vision of the victim from the objects.)
3. Killer connection
How did the murderer and victim connect? How did they meet? How long have they known each other? What choices did the victim make in life (or were made for her) that brought killer and victim into each others lives?
4. Steps to the murder
Walk the victim through the steps leading up to the point she is killed. Get her dressed, get her prepared to head off towards where she meets the killer. This can be third person or a monologue or a mixture. Whatever draws the details out for you.
5. Plotting with scene cards
If your victim is dead when the book opens, obviously the scene cards will be the crime scene and then people discussing the victim:
  1. Crime scene - give a physical description of the victim and the scene. Draw out sights, sounds, smells, textures.
  2. Witness Interview - sleuth will dig up the victim's past.
  3. Suspect Interrogation - sleuth will try to connect the suspects with the victim.
  4. Victim's Lair - more clues to the past and connections to the killer.
Next weekend is the sleuth.
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