Tag: killing characters

killing characters

Guns, Germs and Lead Pipes

I kill imaginary people for a living. Like John Cusack’s hitman in Grosse Pointe Blank, I’m not quite sure why I do it. Maybe my psychological profile fits a certain “moral flexibility.” I hate doing it with a gun, though.  That’s not to say I haven’t used firearms in my fiction. Guns are efficient, particularly in novels where characters often hit their targets. Readers know what to expect when I mention the gleaming slide of a semi-automatic or a sleek, sloping trigger. And, as American police officers have handguns as part of the uniform, chances favor death by bullet for bad guys (real or invented). My problem with guns in fiction is that they are used all-too-often in the mystery and thriller genres and they deliver death a little impersonally for a psychological suspense book. Shooting someone from five feet away lacks the immediacy that I think readers want when they’ve been inside characters’ heads trying to unravel their thought processes.  I’ve drowned people. There is a certain metaphorical satisfaction to this method of dispensing with marked characters. Sinking beneath the water evokes a burial. The character slips beneath the surface and disappears, the layers of water like fresh shovels of dirt. It also has literary roots (Ophelia in Hamlet, […]

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