WordPress and Censorship.

I have been on WordPress, and have blogged here ever since Blogger annoyed me enough to abandon my Blogger blog to start one on WordPress. 

I am a believer in free speech. Not because I want to swear at people— I DO swear, in my own barnyard, usually when I step in some ’S’ or see an animal F-ing with the wrong female. But I try to talk civilized around regular people. Nor because I want to talk about S-E-X in front of the public, including other people’s children. I have as dirty a mind as anyone, but honestly, why should I share? Everyone interested probably has a dirty mind of his own, why should I degrade myself to entertain others? You should all think up your OWN impure thoughts.

But we live in a world where anything can be worthy of censorship. Last election cycle in the US, asking the wrong things about the election results made the Facebook gods mad. Lately I got a link taken down because it gave explicit instructions on how to make healthy home-made baby formula. Oh, the horror!

I heard from a writer friend, Jon Del Arroz, about a woman who wrote a book with a ‘black’ main character. This woman, apparently, identifies as ‘white.’ So she got cancelled. 

When you can be censored for anything and everything even the possible color of your skin, real writers stand up for freedom. But, not so loud. We don’t want to be cancelled prematurely if we can help it.

I have some friends who use Substack, including authors Declan Finn and Rachel Nichols. When I went to the Substack site, I was afraid they might be kind of ‘woke,’ but I haven’t heard of anyone getting censored like they are on Facebook or Twitter.

I have never had a post taken down on WordPress. Once, when I wrote a post examining whether Mohammed was a false prophet, WordPress got a complaint which they passed on to me, suggesting I might like to modify my post. I did nothing, they did nothing.

But I don’t trust that will be true forever. After all, Twitter was once free enough that a certain US president had an account there. 

My new Substack newsletter, at the moment, is taking the place of my MailChimp newsletter which I didn’t use often enough. You can subscribe to my newsletter, get the posts there in your email inbox, and read or delete them at your leisure. 

I hope you will at least take a look at my Substack newsletter— it’s at  https://nissaannakindt.substack.com . And think about your own internet presence. Are you at the mercy of one big ‘woke’ corporation? If you are, no matter how compliant you are, you can be cancelled at any moment, for reasons that may not make sense, if you are even given a reason. Expand your reach a little. Be in more places than one. Until you get world famous, the censors won’t trouble to ban you everywhere at once. Dance between the raindrops. It’s a way to be a little more free.

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Follow me on Gab, a free-speech Facebook/Twitter alternative:  https://gab.com/nissalovescats

How to Write a Storyline

How to write a storyline (one-sentence description)

If your book/story promotion efforts really suck, or are less effective than you like, maybe you should learn to write a good storyline, or short description, of your work. It is a good marketing tool, because you can sum up your book/story in 25 words or less, instead of in 300 words or more.

Randy Ingermanson, in the book ‘Writing Fiction for Dummies’ and on his Snowflake Method web site, teaches how to write a storyline. It’s covered in Chapter 8 of the book, and he gives explicit instructions on how to do it.

You may want to write your storyline in your Scrivener or other program that will count up the words for you— you want to know how many words your storyline is running so you can more easily edit it down. When you get down to one or more good storylines, , do PRINT IT OUT, because your computer might die and take your work with it. 

Focus your storyline on ONE important character— either your Lead or another— and mention that character briefly. In other words, don’t mention your character’s first, middle and last names, his exact age, his profession, and the color of his hair in the storyline. ‘A trapeze artist,’ ‘a crooked lawyer,’ or ‘a talking cat’ are better than some more lengthy mention.

Write about only ONE thread of the story— the most important one or the most interesting one. Don’t write something so convoluted it takes you 500 words just to mention it. 

Be SPECIFIC. Using abstract or general terms puts your readers to sleep, it doesn’t excite them into wanting to buy your book. 

Some sample storylines Ingermanson gives:

“A young English nurse searches for the way back home after time-traveling from 1945 to 1743 Scotland.” (Outlander, Diana Gabaldon.)

“A hobbit learns that destroying his magic ring is the key to saving Middle Earth from the Dark Lord.” (The Lord of the Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien.)

“A Moscow homicide detective investigates a bizarre triple murder and runs afoul of the KGB and FBI.” (Gorky Park, by Martin Cruz Smith.)

My take on this— a well-written and SPECIFIC storyline would be a great tool for writers who write book promo after book promo without mentioning a character or anything specific, and who thus don’t find any potential readers for their book.

For many of us, a first attempt at a storyline may run very long— some people can’t describe their book in less than 150 or 300 words. Here is how I would fix that:

Write 3 versions, perhaps mentioning a different character and a different part of the plot in each one. If you end up with 3 versions that are each way to long, here is how to pare it down:

PRINT OUT your draft, or copy it by hand onto lined paper. Get a group of colored pencils or pens. Use a red (or gray) pencil to underline any word that might be too non-specific or bland. Use a blue or purple pencil to underline words or phrases that you find compelling and specific. Get a green pencil to underline action words. When you’ve marked up your sheet, you may find some words you can lose— and other words you might hang on to. 

Write storylines for books you read, as a way of improving your skill. For example: (Harry Potter series: A defeated Dark Lord is hindered in his attempt to regain his power by a boy wizard.)

DON’T expect a critique partner or beta reader to do the work of creating a good storyline for you, or edit it for you. YOU know your book better than anyone. Do the work yourself. You might share your completed version with your fellow writers online or in real life to get their reactions, and this may help you make improvements, but the biggest part of the work is up to you. You can do it!

Why are short storylines so powerful? This is the reason. If someone asks you what your book is about, and you can reply with one short, powerful sentence, that is so much better than if you have to come up with something on the spot. In my own case, as a person with Asperger Syndrome who gets distracted by all the details in a story, working out a storyline ahead of time is the only way I could say anything interesting 

Writing Rules to Ignore While Writing.

In the book Pulp Fiction by Robert Turner, the author admits that during the white heat of fiction writing, he didn’t think about fiction rules. That’s what worked for him, and that’s what he recommended to others.
It’s understandable. There are worlds and worlds of writing rules, and many are not helpful during the act of writing. Dean Wesley Smith, in the book ‘Writing into the Dark,’ tells the story of how he gave a talk to a college class that had already read and analyzed a story of his. The students asked him how he knew to put in the second hidden meaning for the story, or how he knew to foreshadow that event. Which puzzled Smith, because he did not put those things into the story consciously.
Writing is something we do in creative mode, with our personalities in Child rather than in Parent or Adult. Following an infinite set of rigid rules kicks us right out of creative mode and into critical mode, and has us using the logical part of our mind that isn’t connected to our creativity.
There are writing rules and writing rules. There are the basic things we have learned about spelling and grammar in grade school. For most of us it’s probably more natural to spell and use correct grammar even in a rough first draft, because that’s how we write and there are less things to clear up later on.
Rules we learned in English literature class (or German literature class, or whatever other classes you took in school,) in my mind are often secret-decoding classes. Teacher tells us what the story really means, what the theme of the story is, what things in the story have symbolic meaning. Things that have nothing to do with figuring out how to make a story of your own. The writer may not have put these things in the story consciously. Other teachers may deny these things are in the story at all.
Literature-class derived rules may get in the way of writing a good story. If you decide on a ‘theme’ first, your story might be heavy-handedly preaching that theme instead of telling a compelling story.
Other rules that we might ignore are the kind of rules shared in writing groups by beginning amateur writers. I remember a group that promoted a rule that you should avoid the use of the word ‘and’ whenever possible— but that group saw no problem with stringing four adjectives in a row. Others worry insanely about ‘head-hopping,’ which if done in a non-confusing way can actually be a part of a professional story.
The big problem with amateur writing rules is that they are the blind leading the blind. They increase beginning writers’ insecurity— which may be one thing they are intended to do. In amateur writing groups, many insecure writers like to make other writers insecure, too.
What about more professional and practical writing rules suggested by a professional writer like Lawrence Block, James Scott Bell, Dean Wesley Smith, Jerry B. Jenkins and other writers who have written how-to-write books?
Here is the thing: different writers work in different ways. Also, some writers have more of a gift in teaching their writing process to others. So if you read ten how-to-write books, all by authors whose books are recommended as being helpful, your head becomes so filled with writing rules you may feel paralyzed. Who is your protagonist? What should your mirror moment be like? Have you included the right story beats? Have you outlined fully— or written without any outline at all?
Enough! Calm down, just start writing. Reading about writing rules, and reading lots of fiction so you can internalize what a novel is, may help you, but you have to find out which writing rules help you, and at what stage of the process you should think about them.
Experiment a little. Next time you sit down to write, ignore a writing rule that you normally keep in your head— or think about a writing rule you normally ignore. What works for you, right now? In time, you may find that you have internalized the important rules so that you are applying them without thinking about them. And, perhaps, breaking them when it feels right to do so.

Why Some Evangelical Christian Fiction ‘Needs’ a Salvation Message #ChristianFiction

Preachy fiction— or ‘messagy’ fiction if the message is about global warming, critical race theory, LGBTxyz rites, or atheism— annoys most readers. Even Christian readers don’t like a sermon in a work of fiction— we can find our own sermons, thank you.
Salvation messages in Evangelical Christian fiction seem really off purpose, since it’s the already saved Evangelical Christian that’s the sort of reader that’s drawn to this type of fiction.
But there is a reason why there is some tradition behind including a salvation message in Evangelical Christian novels. At one time, there were a few scattered evangelical denominations which taught that when you got saved, you gave up certain worldly things— drinking alcohol, playing cards, wearing make-up, and reading worldly novels.
I’m not sure any churches exist today that are that strict. I think that in every church out there, the majority of church members have televisions and view worldly programming to some degree.
But back in the day, a salvation message reassured the already-saved reader that he was, in fact, reading a work of fiction that was NOT worldly. It was like a kind of permission slip to read that book.
“Christian fiction” has a bad reputation these days— even among people who admit they have never read a single work of Christian fiction. In part, it’s because many readers, even Christian readers, were put off by that Christian fiction that inserted salvation messages, sermons, and moralizing (works righteousness) to the detriment of the goal of fiction— entertaining the reader with a good story.
Christians might think— but what if some unsaved person picks up a Christian book? Shouldn’t it have a salvation message, just in case?
Well, this is my experience. For a part of my life I was not a Christian but had abandoned my childhood faith and chosen Asatru (Norse Paganism) as my faith.
During those years, the Left Behind series came out, and I read them eagerly, because it had an exciting story. But I never came back to Christianity because of the messages in that book, and later when I did return to Christianity never joined a church that believed the Rapture theory taught by the Left Behind books.
I think Christian writers of all church backgrounds are well advised to concentrate on telling an entertaining, fast-paced, action filled story. Don’t preach sermons— you aren’t qualified to do that unless you’ve been to seminary, anyway. Plant seeds of faith. Don’t hit your readers over the head with the hammer of a hard-sell Christian message. Trust the Holy Spirit to work in people’s hearts.
Have you ever read a book where the author’s message got too intrusive on the story? Did you enjoy that or did it annoy you. What about fiction that merely ‘planted seeds’ of a message, Christian or otherwise?
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Why Go on MeWe? #freespeech #censorship

Why go on MeWe, an alternate and more free-speech-oriented social medium? Imagine this scenario.
You have a new book coming out and you are trying get the word out to your fans. You usually use Facebook. But, surprise! You’ve just got suspended from Facebook.
What did you do? You don’t have to do much. You said an ordinary think that half the people in the country might say, or shared a meme with it, or quoted the wrong Bible verse, or you commented the wrong comment on someone else’s post like the above. I have heard of grandmothers getting suspended or banned, even though Facebook is their main way of staying in touch with grandchildren and other relations.
That’s a good reason not to depend on the pro-censorship social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pintarest) and build up something up off the reservation.
My own chosen alternative media are MeWe and Gab. Both have their problems. And one major thing we writers have as a problem is that it’s hard to get some of our fans to follow us to an alternative social media. But Facebook, for one, seems to be out to chase away its user base with their constant attempts to control the conversation about a stolen election, a vaccine that doesn’t work, and about ‘extremism.’
Since many use their MeWe (or Gab) as a backup, I think we need a greater number of contacts on an alternate than on our pro-censorship media accounts.
I have:
431 Facebook friends.
1404 Twitter followers.
194 MeWe contacts.
172 Gab followers.
To get started on MeWe: open an account, using your real name or pen name— whichever you use for writing. Put up a profile picture and a cover photo like on on other social media.
Join groups. Most groups have the problem that people post stuff— often off-topic spam— and then run away. Don’t be like that. Interact with what other people post in a friendly way. Do that for a few days in each group. And when you make your first post, don’t make it a book spam! Instead, ask a question for other people to respond to. Be a group nurturer, not a group spammer.
Here are some groups I am in:
Heinlein’s Rules for Writers (I’m the admin)
Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance
Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans
Christian Speculative Fiction Writers
Space Opera Writers (no promos)
And you can always use ME for your first MeWe contact: https://mewe.com/i/nissaannakindt
The biggest hint— use MeWe every single day that you use ANY social media. Use MeWe first. Post links to every blog post you make there. Post a little something every time you visit MeWe. Share memes, but also say stuff for yourself— and not all book spam. Have an ‘author persona’ that’s interesting to follow— or weird, or funny, or angry about crooked politicians or anti-Christian elements of society, or anti-semitism.
OK, as working writers does that mean we have to give up Facebook and Twitter in protest of censorship? Or boycott Kindle Direct Publishing even though it’s a major income source? No. We can still make our money off the pro-censorship forces. My own blog posts get posted automatically to my Twitter through a trick of WordPress. (They promise to do the same for Facebook, but that doesn’t work and I’d have to revive my almost-dead FB author page.)
What about you? Are you on MeWe? Please share your link so I can make a contact request to you. If you have other free-speech social media to recommend, let us know about it.

What Time Should You Write Every Day? #writing #writinglife

Remember Heinlein’s Rules for Writers? Number one is: You Must Write. Number two is: You Must Finish What You Write. That implies that in some specific time, you will be writing. What is the best time to write?
The time that you have open. All writers have lives and day jobs and laundry to do and cat boxes to clean. Somewhere in we must set aside some bit of time to write.
This does not need to be some perfect ‘best time for ME.’ It just needs to be time you are not required to be doing something else.
Some writers with very demanding day jobs and lives get up a couple of hours early to write, or write late at night when everyone is asleep. Others take snatches of time during their working day— during breaks and lunch— to write a few words into cell phone or notebook.
Do you need other people’s ‘buy-in’ or permission to write? No. If your husband or wife laughs at your writing ambition, just do it on the sly. You don’t have to tell anyone what you are doing. Maybe people can be made to assume you are spending too much time on MeWe or Facebook.
Monica Leonelle teaches writing in 8 minute writing sprints. Surely you can find 8 minutes lying around somewhere, right? 8 minutes isn’t much. We may spend that much time changing TV channels looking for a program that sucks a little less than the others. But 8 minutes a day, every day, adds up to something.
If you watch TV, or futz around on social media, or listen to radio, you probably have minutes, even hours, you can repurpose for writing use. Yes, maybe you can’t binge-watch that cruddy reality TV show quite so long, or you have to bring your social media usage under better control.
But the rewards of making time for writing is getting to write, which is fun if you do it right, and having a writing career. The ‘punishment’ for not making the time is not being a writer. You don’t have to be a writer. Maybe it’s more fun for you to play golf or bongo drums. But writing demands your time. It may also munch your soul, just a little. But that’s what it takes to be a writer.
Have you ever had a problem making time to write? What worked for you?
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From Head-Fiction to Words on a Page #writing

I’ve been making up stories in my head since early childhood. I’d go walking— ideally in the nearest wooded or wild spot— and take along my ‘imaginary friends’ and think up stories for them. I don’t know quite how early these story walks began, but I know I went for unauthorized walks when I lived in Arvada, Colorado, and that would have been when I was kindergarten age.
My earliest story friends were characters from TV shows— Batman and Robin, the crew of the Enterprise, the people of Dark Shadows. My first original characters were people I made up to interact with my TV characters.
My head-fiction wasn’t exactly like real fiction from a book. My stories didn’t have a proper beginning, middle and end, nor much of a plot. I would re-run scenes I liked and ignore what might have happened next.
As I developed an identity of myself-as-writer, thanks to the character ‘Jo’ in Little Women, I began making up stories that weren’t set in the Star Trek universe, but were my own stories. I even started writing things down.
I quickly figured out I couldn’t just set down my imaginings from my head. The stories had no plot, my dialog went on pointlessly, just to give characters a chance to make more smart aleck remarks, and it didn’t go on to an ending.
I realized I had to learn more about writing, and so I got my first-ever how-to-write book, ‘Writing the Novel: From Plot to Print’ by Lawrence Block. I knew Block’s writing from his short stories in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine.
Block gave his readers a bum steer. He said they should start out writing novels instead of short stories— even though Block himself started out writing short stories. His reasoning was that there was no market left for short stories, and so writing short stories wasn’t a selling proposition.
But the thing is this: most of our first efforts won’t be sold for money anyway. Any more than a professional artist was able to sell the first rough sketch he did in childhood. We have to practice first.
Once one learns a little bit of the structure of a short story or novel, you can start plugging your head-fiction into the structure, and create some ideas to fill out the rest of it.
This means doing a bit of an outline or pre-planning. If you feel you are a natural ‘pantser,’ go on ahead pantsing— you can plug in the structure things in a second, ‘taming the chaos’ draft.
Planning a story ending is hard for me. it’s like saying the fun time and my beloved characters should be scheduled for death. Which is silly. As a writer your fun time can go on and on through many different stories, and you might use the same characters in other stories. Even characters you’ve killed off— just give him a new name, appearance, and characteristics.
When you sketch out your story’s beginning, middle and end and the various plot points, remember you are not committed to use any part of this plan if something better occurs to you in the course of writing.
I have still not fully mastered the trick of turning my head-fiction into words on a page. Some of my head-fiction remains at the childish, fragmented stage, and that’s okay. It has a different purpose than the fiction-fantasies I have on purpose about my current WIP. I may go for a ‘plot-walk’ to work out how the next scene up will be scheduled to go.
What about you? Do you have fiction running around in your head? What do you do with it? Have you worked out any tricks for turning it in to written-down fiction? Share in a comment!
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AspieLife: A Solitary Confinement Life

People with Asperger Syndrome (autism spectrum disorder) lead lonely lives, almost always. We don’t make friends easily. We often have fearful social interactions in which we are bullied or blamed, often by people who should be protecting us from such things.
Earlier in my life, before my diagnosis with Aspergers in middle age, I felt like I was living life in solitary confinement. It seemed like everyone else on the planet had at least one friend, while I could barely find someone who would tolerate talking to me for a few sentences.
Of course, the solitary confinement idea wasn’t too accurate. If I was sent to a supermax prison for a life of solitary confinement, I’d see correctional officers every single day, and perhaps also a trusty to deliver my meals and my library books, if the prison had a library. And I could talk to the cons in nearby cells. I’d have more social interaction in one day than I normally have in a week.
The internet is a real plus for people like me. Before Facebook went into full mind-control mode, I found lots of people to interact with there, including some of my cousins, my brother, and my nieces. Many of these internet friends of mine have backup accounts on MeWe or Gab, so I’ll still be in contact when Facebook gets wise to me.
Social media are not the same as real social interaction. I think of my internet friends by their screen name and profile pic, either of which may be subject to change. But when I feel down, my magical internet friends try to be helpful. (The magical internet trolls, on the other hand, try to tear me down. Which is funny.)
If I lived in the big city, I might be able to parlay my social media friendships into real-world social contacts. I do have a few local people as social media contacts— I bought my baby chicks from one.
But my decades of lonely life have made me ‘institutionalized.’ Unlike when I was forced to attend school classes, I’ve been alone for years, with my only social interaction being to say hello to the cashiers who sell me cream, coconut oil, meat, low-carb bread and other life essentials. Thanks to coronavirus hysteria and Michigan Fuehrher Gretchen Wittmer, I can’t even go to Mass any more.
If you have Asperger Syndrome, cherish any social connections or family that you have. Don’t expect perfection from them, though you shouldn’t let them boss you around, either. You need whatever social connections you can have— even if the other people involved are weirder than us.
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My keto/low-carb blog posts now have their own blog: https://annakindt.WordPress.com .
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Building a Writing Routine.

To be a real writer, you have to treat your writing like a job, not like a hobby you do just when you feel inspired.
Say you got a job at a Walmart. You’d get your schedule and it would be up to you to get up and get dressed on time, and to get yourself to the store ready to work. No matter how high up in the world you think you are, if you didn’t come in on time or if you came in but you insisted on eating your fast-food breakfast and drinking your coffee before you actually did anything, before long some other fellow would have your job.
Writing is a way of being self-employed. You have to be two people— the poor schlub that does the work, and the manager that tells the poor schlub what to do and when to do it. For a lot of us writers, the hard part is teaching our poor schlub self how to have a good work ethic about writing.
Time to write.
When you have a day job, when it’s time to work, you go in, prepared to do actual work. You should feel the same way about the start of your daily writing stint. You sit down in your writing area, turn on your writing device (I’ve got a keyboard and a cell phone at the moment, typing in to an Evernote document) and you get going. It helps not to have distractions around. If you put on the television, next thing you know you will be caught up in a program and not writing at all. The same goes for putting on the radio. I don’t even put on recorded music much any more, because if I hit a tune I like, I may want to get up and dance. (If you know what I look like, try hard not to visualize this.)
Real work first.
Many professional writers only count the new words, writing forward, that they have done in their day’s word count. Outline-writing, world-building documents, and that 57th draft just do not count. Blog posts for various blogs and topics also aren’t counted.
I’m not so strict with myself. I’m writing this blog post right now, as the first part of my daily writing stint. It’s actually a little easier to write a blog post than buckle down to my story. (I won’t be posting this or sharing the published post on my social media as part of my writing stint— that would be a distraction.)
I write from minimal plans/outlines, and if I don’t have such a plan ready to go, I’ll work on that as part of the writing morning.
But the big deal is when I’m actually moving forward— adding new words to an initial draft. (I don’t call what I do after a draft ‘rewriting’ or ‘editing, I fix the stuff that needs fixing and then send the story out into the world.)
Word count or time served?
Many writers, influenced by Nanowrimo, use a word count to define their daily writing stint. I used to do it that way myself.
But then I read a few books on writing pulp-style fiction, which criticised the idea of padding out one’s fiction into long, bloated works (Game of Thrones, most of the Harry Potter series.) I thought word count goals might be rewarding myself for padding out, and punishing myself for writing to the point.
So my goal is in chunks of time instead. I’ll work for about an hour, get up, make coffee or tea, deal with a naughty cat, and then go back and do another hour. (I note down word counts in a little notebook, but I’m not defining the writing stint by that, as in, another 300 words and you are done for the day.)
Morning writing or evening writing?
I feel at my best when my writing stint is at the start of the day. Other people love to write in the evening— or even late at night when everyone else is in bed.
I have read about the writer Mercedes Lackey, that in the early stage of her writing career she had a demanding day job, and she did her writing after she got home from work.
Sometimes you have to do that— let the time of your writing stints be dictated by the other things in your life.
Timed writing sprints.
Especially if you feel you are having to write at the ‘wrong’ time, doing timed writing sprints may help you get into the swing of doing your actual writing work. Some authorities recommend short sprints of 5 or 8 minutes, and lengthening it into longer ones.
The best thing about a short sprint is that it doesn’t take much time. If you are setting your writing stint at a time you didn’t normally write in before, doing just a 5 minute sprint doesn’t feel like much. But it’s better than not writing at all.
If you get the the point where you feel you ‘have to’ write for two or three or four hours every time you sit down in your writing space, you may be stymied. There are only so many hours of the day, and you may not be able to carve out a block of time that long.
But you might be able to do short sprints, perhaps a few at different times of the day, or when you are waiting around being bored. Those lost minutes could add up to more writing work done.
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Murder in Fiction.

Fiction is different from real life— fictional life makes more sense. Everything that happens in fiction is part of a plot. Real life is just one thing after another.
Fictional murders, even in ‘gritty, realistic’ stories, tend to make more sense. In real life, a murder often seems motiveless or senseless, or the reason is crazy, like that serial killer who claimed he had to kill people to prevent an earthquake.
Fictional murders, like other fictional behaviors, have to be motivated. And in most fiction, that motivation has to be something an ordinary person might understand.
Murder mystery murders.
In conventional murder mysteries— the kind now tamed down and called ‘cozies,’ the murder at the center of the plot has a commonplace motive. Financial gain is very common, as it allows there to be a number of suspects, especially if the murder victim was wealthy and had a number of heirs.
Marital jealousy, a big motive in real murder, doesn’t work so well in a murder mystery since that motive points to one suspect usually. If that proves to be the motive of the ultimate killer, that factor must be hidden to make the killer’s identity a mystery.
Murder to prevent a revealing of secrets is also a possibility, especially if the author can frame the victim as someone who habitually ruined people by revealing their shameful secrets.
The suspect individuals in a mystery may have a variety of possible motives, rather than having them all after money or all protecting secrets. The main thing in the traditional murder mystery is that there must be a variety of suspects. No one can be standing over the dead victim with a knife in his hand— unless that someone is actually innocent and the real killer must be located.
Criminal enterprise murder.
In many types of adventurous fiction, the murders go back to a central criminal mastermind or Dark Lord.
The initial corpse can be a result of whatever the criminal enterprise normally kills people for— someone who didn’t go along with the gang’s extortion plot, a witness, a rival gang member, a young wizard whose magic powers might be stolen, whoever owns the McGuffin….
Afterwards, murders tend to be plot complications in the quest of the hero to stop the criminal villain. Witnesses that the hero wants to question might get murdered first. A friend or associate of the hero might get killed to intimidate the hero.
The more murdery your criminal enterprise villain or Dark Lord is, the more important it is for the hero to stop him. Also, the more corpses the hero encounters along the way, the more power the villain seems to have. Does it seem hopeless? It should. You want your hero to face an almost impossible challenge and win.
Incidental murders.
Every fictional life is precious. But some minor charaters must die or disappear as part of the plot, and sometimes murder is the cause.
It’s common to make fictional characters orphans, since that makes them more vulnerable. Sometimes that orphaning happens by means of a murder.
Murders in your character’s backstory can be just sad events, or perhaps your character will need to get justice/revenge for a murdered father. This need not be the central theme of the plot, however.
Sometimes an incidental murder might just be an obstacle to your hero’s actions. That one person with the important information is now dead so the hero must make other plans. At other times, the murder can point up dangers. If your hero goes to a dangerous city and the first person he speaks to ends up murdered by the end of the day, that illustrates the dangers of the city.
The hero kills.
In commercially viable or non-grimdark fiction, the hero can’t be a murderer. If the hero kills, it must be justified— defense of others or self-defense, ideally. Sometimes a bad guy just won’t surrender and must be killed to protect others.
In certain circumstances, the hero may do a ‘justice killing.’ In a remote region— in the pioneering West, or on a remote planet— there may be no realistic way to get a murderer to formal justice.
Also, in a dystopian totalitarian regime like the real-life regimes of Stalin, Mao or Hitler, a killer might be protected by the ‘judicial’ system because he is part of it. If the hero kills such a killer for righteous reasons, that will stop him from going on killing.
A fictional hero must have a very strong motivation to kill. Perhaps he lost a loved one, or has some strong emotional connection with the victim. He must have strong knowledge of the guilt of his target. In a dystopian regime, that killing judge has to be proved to be doing more killings than he needs to, rather than serving as a brake on a killing regime.
The big test of any murders you may commit in your fiction is, how well do readers accept it? Do they feel it is a tragic but necessary part of the plot, or are they mad at you, the author, for an unneeded killing? Reading should take your reader to an exciting adventure, not introduce interesting characters doomed to die so an author can earn his grimdark credentials.
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