Hey all. Gerry Boyle here with a question: Why would you kill someone?
No, I mean really.
I ask this as I work on a new book (In my first collaboration I’m two-thirds of the way through the first draft of THE DEAD SAMARITAN) and consider who is going to go and why. Which of the characters won’t make it to the end? How will they meet their untimely death? Who will take them out? And what would move the bad guys to go to such lengths?
Okay, crime writers and readers, you know the choices, right? Let’s see, we (I speak collectively of course) kill for money, a lot or a little. We kill because we’ve already killed and we don’t want to get caught (knocking off the witnesses). We kill for thrills (read the newspapers). We kill so we’ll get famous (keep reading the newspapers). We kill to keep a deep dark secret a deep dark secret (watch television).
But there’s one motive that doesn’t get enough air or book time. In fact, up to my ears in this stuff I hadn’t thought of this one for a while. And it came to me as I was reading about the Bolshoi Ballet director who had acid thrown in his face on a Moscow street a few weeks ago.
Principal dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko is said by police to have orchestrated the acid attack on Bolshoi Director Sergei Filin. Filin didn’t die but he was temporarily blinded and could have been killed if he had wandered into that crazy Moscow traffic.
And the motive, phrased so elegantly in the Moscow press? “Personal hatred.”
When I read those two words I stopped dead in my tracks. How simple a motive, and one that should be the fuel for more murders. Let me rephrase that. Personal hatred should be the motive for more fictional murders, because what better reason to knock somebody off than just hating their guts? Deeply. Burningly. For a long time.
Forget the serial killers that populate so many of our bestsellers. The marauding gangs. The professional hit men. The revenge killers.
Sometimes murder is driven by that most basic human emotion: good old-fashioned loathing. I’m going back to this work in progress and see if I can inject some of that old-fashioned “personal hatred.” That sort of emotion is a challenge for a writer. A character who carries enough hatred to kill? That’s a challenge for any writer to recreate.
The acid attack by the ballet dancer? Not so much.
I would kill only to protect myself or a loved one. I would only kill if there was no other way – wound to stop would be my first choice! Dee
P.S. Hatred for another means they own you!!! I have no time or energy for that!!! Dee
When my boys were little, I knew I would kill to protect them. My favorite motive…secrets. Long-held secrets that must be protected. Also good a long-nursed grudges. The person who humiliated you in high school. Stole the love of your life. Won the prize you’d been striving for. Caused the car wreck that killed your best friend, etc.
And if what we see on TV is true, plenty of people kill simply as gang initiation, or because they’ve been disrespected. Sigh.
Is hatred revenge that hasn’t had time to age properly?
Ha! Is loathing hatred that hasn’t had time to ripen?
“Hate” is such a strong word. I find it almost impossible to “hate” someone, on a personal basis. Loathe, despise, be disgusted by their behavior … but when whatever inspires that “hate” word turns to “fear” of what that person might do, or the consequences of that action … that’s when murder becomes a possibility. Assuming, in all cases, relative sanity ….
I think I may be writing a “personal hatred” book now. I had been thinking of it as a “revenge” book, but now that I’ve read this, I’m realizing, “revenge for what”?
The one slight variation I would add is–hatred of the IDEA of someone, as opposed to hatred caused by exposure to them.