Guest post by Tommy Lavalle
Welcome to author Tommy Lavalle!
Today I'd like to welcome author Tommy Lavalle to my blog as a guest poster. Many crime and other types of thrillers harbour a serial killer; for the reader, they make compelling characters. We're drawn in by their gruesome modus operandi as well as their warped way of viewing the world. But how do novelists write such absorbing characters? In this blog post, author Tommy Lavalle is going to share with us his process for creating an awesome fictional serial killer. Over to you, Tommy!
What's the attraction of serial killers?
What is it about serial killers? Arguably, it’s the sickest type of villain across all genres. The madness, the rituals, how personal each kill is ... it is seriously screwed up! Yet, put out a great book, TV show, or movie featuring a compelling serial killer; I (as many of you are) am hooked.
So getting past the morbid curiosity we, as fans, have for serial killers ... creating one is a challenge for writers. So how do I and other writers create their own serial killer? Well, I don’t have a good answer – but I thought I would share the process I am currently working through in creating one of my own. For the next installment of my book series, I will be introducing a serial killer that has a history with one of my main two protagonists. This is the first time I have attempted to write a character like this – I hope fiction readers will find it helpful to see how I am approaching this challenge. Maybe some experienced writers could share their advice in the comments section below!
The myth and the introduction
Let’s start with the myth. I want the myth of the serial killer to be as intimidating as the character himself. I want my readers and characters to know there is a shark in the water. I like to see the fear and paranoia spread before the serial killer actually does anything ... maybe even before he says his first word. So my first step in building my serial killer character is to plant the seeds of his legend by making innuendos and telling “camp fire” stories. This will unsettle my other characters and hopefully make the reader excited and a little uncomfortable with what might come.
Now the introduction. Just like any other situation in life – first impressions last. If I have done a good job of building up the myth, I sure don’t want his first appearance to disappoint. I outline and story map before I write. I am one of those writers that needs to know where I am going before I write myself into a corner and am trapped with no place to go but the delete button. During my story mapping, I can see I have several ways to write my serial killer’s first appearance. So I play with all those options. I will write a couple of pages to see which I find most effective – which option really gives the right impact at that moment in the story. Having a few different options, I’ll have both my illustrator and editor read those pages and help sort out in which direction is the best to go. The collaboration in developing these key story/character moments is essential in my creative process in developing my ideas.
The motivation and the ritual
The killer’s motivation is important to me as a writer because, as a fan of these types of characters, l want to know why the guy is doing this – and I feel totally ripped-off when the answer is “just because” (oh man, do I hate that!) The motivation is the best part – it’s where I can really get into the misguided complexity around my killer. My way of getting the reader inside the killer’s mind is through the protagonist. I create a personal relationship between the protagonist and the killer so a deeper connection between them can be formed. This connection is something, I as a writer, can really dig deep into and makes their adversarial relationship even more thrilling.
If the motivation is the heart of the character, then the ritual is an exploration of the mind. To see a serial killer go to such lengths to create a setting and have specific kill methods really dives into the psychosis, the addiction, and the compulsion. I want to see the ritual fully executed. I want to see the moment of gratification followed by the self-loathing and urge to do it again. I want to see what happens when everything is not perfect, and the killer is forced to adapt and change. I want to see the anger when the entire ritual is disrupted and the despair from not getting satiated. Everything he does is to get to that sick and twisted moment, and it’s our job as writers to bring everyone along for that demented mental journey. As of today I haven’t written my first kill scene - I have been brainstorming with my illustrator on what the scene will look like, what the method of the kill will be, and why this character needs to kill this way. I can honestly say, I am looking forward to a quiet night, when I have a few uninterrupted hours to dive deep into my killer’s mind and write that scene!
Win a copy of Thomas Lavalle's book!
Thanks for reading, and thanks to Maggie for having me as guest on her blog! As a thank you to Maggie and all of you that have read my guest blog and are interested in reading my book, I am offering 10 free copies to everyone visiting the blog! Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you a free ebook!
About Thomas Lavalle:
Thomas Lavalle is the writer of the paranormal suspense thriller “The Spirit and the Shadow”.
“I have been advised against announcing that I am a first-time author - that it is basically asking a reader to take a chance on my book even though I have no track record. I have no history in fiction writing, never won any awards, and never took a literature or writing class (outside of basic 101 level college courses). While not advised, it is the truth, and as honest as this bio is, so is my writing. My name is Thomas Lavalle. I am a first time writer. I also surf, read comics, and I'm a dedicated father and husband. If you're interested in paranormal suspense - take a chance and check out my book!”
About The Spirit and the Shadow:
In a world where vampires and humans coexist, Detectives Aiden Lawson and Robert Garrison are after a vampire wanted for murder. This accused vampire is also hunted by the murder victim's brother, an assassin gone rogue from his clandestine agency. What these men will learn is that this vampire has a secret - a secret that very powerful men and vampire alike will go to great lengths to acquire. The story follows the paths of these individuals as they uncover the truth. THE SPIRIT AND THE SHADOW is a mash-up of conspiracy and paranormal genres with suspense, vengeance, and BLOOD!
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