Posted by: nancycurteman | January 3, 2011

How to Make a Mystery Novel Victim More Than Just a Dead Body

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The three most important characters in a mystery novel are the sleuth, the killer and the victim. As mystery writers, we usually do a pretty good job creating our sleuth and killer, but sometimes we don’t take as much care in creating our victim. We should. Without a victim, there would be no story. The victim is the character around whom the entire murder mystery revolves. S/he must be more than just a dead body.  Here are some points to consider when developing a murder mystery victim:

1. Present an in depth description of how the victim looked in life as well as at the murder scene.

2. Provide general information about the victim—age, education, profession, socioeconomic level, interests.

3. Give the murder victim a backstory that reveals h/is personality, passions, values, hopes and goals.

4. Provide the victim with family or friends who are deeply impacted by h/is death.

5. Give the victim a secret that may have led to h/is murder. Perhaps something s/he stumbled onto or something beyond h/er control.

The investment of a little time and careful thought when creating a murder victim will ensure that s/he is not just a dead body, but an individual about whom a reader will care. The reader will want to keep turning the pages of your mystery novel to find out who killed your victim and why.

Photo: inewscatcher

Other Writing Tips:
Developing Characters is No Mystery
How to Create Minor Characters in Your Mystery Novel
The Romantic Heroine in a Mystery Novel
How to Create Sympathetic Mystery Novel Characters
How to Write Character Arc in a Mystery Novel

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Responses

  1. Great ideas. thanks.

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    • Hey Good Friend, You’re always so encouraging.

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  2. […] <!– AddThis Button BEGIN –> <img style="border: 0;" src="http://s7.addthis.com/static/btn/v2/lg-share-en.gif&quot; alt="Bookmark and Share" width="125" height="16" /> The three most important characters in a mystery novel are the sleuth, the killer and the victim. As mystery writers, we usually do a pretty good job creating our sleuth and killer, but sometimes we don’t take as much care in creating our victim. We should. Without a victim … Read More […]

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  3. Good points, all, Nancy. (But I would expect nothing less.)

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  4. Good points, NC. If we don’t care that the victim “bit the bullet,” we have less incentive to figure out the Who and the Why of it all.

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    • Never given much to the victim being a character before, but it makes sense. If they are just a body then who cares about the murder being solved?
      Good points as always.

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    • Absolutely true. Victims were people who had hopes and goals.

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  5. Nancy. your intelligence astonishes me.
    whats your number id like to hook up.

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    • Harrison, you’re funny. On the serious side, are you a mystery writer?

      Like


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