Making Murder Acceptable

murder_sceneLoving a murderer can be difficult, but when you have a heavy-on-the action romance, sometimes it’s necessary. So, how do we make someone who is capable of committing murder, likable to our readers and our love interest? Here are some ideas, many of which parallel  Marie Bilodeau’s recent post.  The more  of them we use, the more likable the hero becomes. Conversely, too many and the hero becomes cheesy. Finding the balance, and finding what fits for your murderer’s personality, is the fun part.

1) Give your murderer a good reason: An Uzi-fest on a whim in the middle of a family-filled park is not going to sit well with anyone. An Uzi-fest to destroy the carriers of a lethal virus  in order to save all of humanity, though still difficult to stomach, allows a reader to sympathize with your hero’s difficult decision.

2) Make the victims deserve it: Innocent families gathering in a park don’t deserve to die. The families belonging to “We Believe in Aryan Race Dominance,” who took over the park, inoculated themselves against the lethal virus they then released,  and are intending to destroy everyone who doesn’t fit into their standard of perfection, might deserve to die–at least, the parents.  I have to admit, having the kids die might still be questionable.

3) Conscientious murderers feel remorse: Even if the crazy adults got what they deserved, the murderer has to feel bad about what he’s done, and devastated about the children put into this situation by their parents.

4) No other choice: If gathering the perpetrators up and putting them in a giant plastic bubble for the rest of their lives was an option, then mowing them down with an Uzi was not an acceptable alternative. We need to believe that the murderer had no other options, or believed s/he did what had to be done.

5) Make the murderer likable: David Farland talks about this in his seminars and I think he calls it “petting the dog.”  While racing to the park in his/her car, if the murderer swerved to avoid a dog in the street, we like our murdering hero better because we know he cares about animals. It doesn’t have to be a dog. It can be another animal, a child, an older person… anything that shows us our murderer is a caring individual.

6) Make the murderer liked: When others care about a character, the readers are likely to care. Show the readers that love interest early, or show us that the murderer’s friend loaned out his brand new Porsche because he believes in the murderer’s good character.

There are many tricks to creating a murdering hero still  worthy of a happily-ever-after ending. What are yours?

3 responses on “Making Murder Acceptable

  1. RD Meyer

    I like this post a lot. I’ve written about the line an author must walk to give the story drama without making the hero a monster that people hate, or, worse, don’t care about.

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