Learning to Write Murder Mysteries

Why would I want to write about murder? Because I’ve lived long enough to mourn the death of several loved ones, and am finally beginning to face the undeniable fact that death is a natural part of life. So while I’m personally not so afraid of death, I still shudder at the thought of murder. But it fascinates me, like being unable to resist poking a sore tooth with my tongue.

My story then becomes not just about the human response (my own? my character’s?) to death, but to murder. In which case it’s about revenge, love, hate, uncontrollable rage, abuse or any number of human conditions which become the justification for using death as a tool.

And this is all apart from the eternal human question of what comes after death. Is there something so heinous, so violent, about intentionally ripping the life from another human, that the victim is able to retain a thirst for revenge, or a yearning for karma? How can anyone overcome the natural reverence for life to commit murder? And why? That is the really interesting question, but do I need to know this to write about it? I hope not.

What I’ve learned so far:
1. Murderous Villains must believe in the justification of their actions, to the same extent the Hero believes otherwise.
2. Murder must be the result of evil intent, and not accidental. But sometimes, unfortunately, it’s hard to tell the difference.
3. If taking a life is taboo in our society, how do we explain the popularity of Dexter?



About Wendy Fallon

By day I am a technical writer, and by night and on weekends I am an artist and creative writer. Having lived in Phoenix, AZ with my husband Tim for 23 years, I find the urban wilderness in which we lived to be endlessly fascinating. Our home was tucked up against South Mountain, the largest city park in the U.S. The canal slashing across the base of the mountain provides inspiration for paintings, drawings, and sitings of wild coyotes, skittering fluffs of newborn quail, lizards and constant change.
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