In my current, and as yet untitled sixth mystery fiction, I changed the killer in the middle of the book. No one knew but me, until my editor commented that the killer was unconvincing. He just seemed to float in the air until he pounced on the victim. It made me think even harder than I’d already done to finish this book.
Yes, he was unconvincing because I didn’t really know him—and it showed.
Time for character sketches. Yes, he grew more real to me in writing five or six pages about him. But I still couldn’t nail him to the paper so I tried another technique which I’d written about in Writing Killer Characters, my eBook in the series on Writing Your First Mystery.
I used the third person omniscient point of view. It went something like the following. Character name is an early riser, waking as the newspaper slaps up against the front door, setting his two Rottweiler’s barking. Coffee first, then the dogs get fed. He made a pot of organic, fair trade coffee from Kenya and poured it into a blue ceramic cup.
And it just came as though I was taking dictation. Whew! Where did the Rottweilers and the fair trade coffee come from? I don’t know. It just happened.
In writing your own day-in-the-life you might discover a female character wears jeans and a red scrunchie in her thick, curly hair. She goes to the office and snarls at a co-worker. And on it goes. You can’t write fast enough to keep up with your imagination. Whoops, a contradiction. Suddenly you’re writing that she loves her job. Now you’re off in another direction.
Just keep writing. One character attribute that you uncover will be stronger than another. Simply said, you get further and further into your character description and a better idea surfaces.
I’ve always trusted that the psyche has an unlimited supply of characters and plots for me to use. I needed to make friends with her and ask for her help.
And once again, she came through.
I’ve written three short eBooks on the subject of writing your first mystery. The first one is available FREE on my website at https://marpreston.com