1. Brandon P.
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    Brandon P. Senior Member

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    What if your husband was a serial killer?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Brandon P., Jan 28, 2012.

    I usually write fantasy and historical fiction, but for the sake of trying something different I want to experiment with a more modern setting. Here's a sketch of my current plot bunny:

    The male MC has a habit of murdering any people who've pissed him off in their sleep, but no one knows he's responsible. In the story's first act, he murders a co-worker who beat him in a workplace competition. When his wife notices he's very sleepy the next day, he confesses his crime to her. The wife is horrified but decides not to report her husband, a decision which she will regret...

    Here's the challenge: I need a reason for the wife not to report her husband's murder. Right now I'm thinking that she simply loves him too much (he is otherwise charming), but don't know if that would suffice as a believable motivation.

    Also, if my story had to be fitted into a specific genre, which would it be?
     
  2. jc.
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    jc. Contributing Member

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    I would guess crime/thriller maybe, not really horror.

    What a tough question. If my husband confessed to me that he murdered someone, I'd understandably be shocked. I probably sound crazy but I love and very much trust my husband and would probably want to take some time to really think about whether or not I want my husband put to jail. I know that's an unethical and stupid thing to do, but that's what I'd do. Plus I'd probably be in denial for a few days/weeks. I think my reaction/decision would mainly depend though on his attitude behind it and how he acts the next few days.

    If he's boastful or proud about what he's done? I'd probably report him if I felt worried he'd kill again or just flat out felt threatened.

    Is he emotionally or mentally unstable? Hysterical? I'd tell him to go see a therapist and probably get a lawyer to represent him just in case there's an investigation. He'd be a likely suspect due to the obvious motive (the competition/promotion).

    Is he very matter of fact and apathetic?
    If he just didn't seem to care at all, I'd probably be really scared. This would tell me that killing has no effect on him whatsoever and that he could very well do it again. I'd definitely try to get him locked up.

    Is it possible that he would lie and say that the murder was an accident (somehow)? Or that it had been self defense, etcetc?
     
  3. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can well believe that the wife never suspected her husband was a killer--it's amazing how love can blind, or how devious some people are--but I find it hard to accept that her feelings are totally unaffected by the news. So, for me, the 'not turning him in because she loves him too much' doesn't work. It's better to have a 'protecting the kids/financial expediency/finding a more suitable time while planning an escape' type reason for not turning him in immediately. I would turn in a husband, lover, or anyone who confessed to such a thing immediately, albeit with huge sorrow, because it would mean they were not the person I had thought they were. Plus, they would be a danger so it would be a case of saving more lives.

    In 'The Eye of the Needle' by Ken Follett, the woman sleeps with her lover one more time even after she's discovered he's a dangerous German spy who's killed her husband, because she is plotting how to escape and get her small child out of his reach. Having him undressed in bed while she goes downstairs is part of the plan. BUT--she doesn't have any difficulty drumming up the old desire she feels for him. It's a well-written scene, if you know the book.
     
  4. prettyprettyprettygood
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    prettyprettyprettygood Active Member

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    I agree with both jc and madhoca, and I think it would be a combination of love and fear that would prevent the woman reporting her husband- especially if he provides a lifestyle that would disappear if he wassent to prison, or if he is particularly charming.

    Having said that, I think the relationship would change permanently after something like this, and the wife would be racked with doubts, guilt and fear even if she heard no more about his little murder habit.
     
  5. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think that not reporting him is realistic. Not in the long run, unless she is one of those women who will end up cooperating with him. Also, he would be likely to kill her too, so she doesn't report him.
    If you search for "Green River Killer" this is a real life account of a woman who lived with a prolific serial killer for decades. It's just that she had no idea, and he seemed very kind, pleasant, sociable, etc which is pretty much how a serial killer would need to be if he was in a long-term relationship. To confess to wife because he looks like he didn't get much sleep the night before is not very realistic at all. Serial killers are interested in continuing to kill for as long as possible, remorse or looking for approval is usually not a part of their profile.
     
  6. AmsterdamAssassin
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    AmsterdamAssassin Contributing Member

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    Stephen King just wrote a story about that - you might want to read A Good Marriage before you invest time and energy in your story.
     
  7. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    The only plot I can think of is that for her to have some kind of 'baggage', a past that needs to be kept secret.
    The husbands obvioulsy knows about it and so it would not be possible for her to report him because he would report her to.
    A twist like a catch22, ''you scrub my back and I scrub yours'' type of scenario.
    I hope this helps.
     
  8. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    THIS ^

    When people take wedding vows and promise to love someone forever, I think there should be a get out clause which states 'unless you turn out to be a serial killer or just a total fuckwit'. Romantic love, unlike filial love, IS conditional. When someone turns out not to be the person you thought they were, I think you would start to doubt your feelings for them too. If it was an accidental death then you could understand and forgive them, but if it was just a cold blooded murder, could you really love someone like that? I think she would have to be more frightened of the consequences of going to the police to make her risk living with a man who might one day turn on her too. Perhaps he said he would implicate her or reveal something from her past, but then self preservation and fear, not love, would be behind it.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Such a killer is probably a very control-obsessed person. Chances are good the wife is abused, self-esteem eroded to the vanishing point. She may be emotionally incapable of standing up to him, or even acknowledging that she has any right to do so.

    Despite this, sometimes an abused person will find the strength to break free. Not often enough, but it does happen occasionally.
     
  10. Brandon P.
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    Brandon P. Senior Member

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    I realize every plot idea has been done before, but truthfully, for reasons already stated by other posters in this thread, my original idea wasn't that realistic anyway.
     
  11. joanna
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    joanna Active Member

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    Well, I'm going to be the voice of dissent and say it's absolutely possible for a wife not to turn her husband in. Not only is it possible, it's happened in reality. Notice many people here are saying they would turn him in themselves -- not that it's impossible that someone else wouldn't.

    Remember that couple in Canada? Dude was raping and killing women and the wife totally didn't tell anyone, she even watched a couple times. Of course, she was psychotic. So it totally depends on what kind of person this wife is. She probably has some personality flaw or even a disorder that leads her to not tell on her husband. She could be abused, neurotic, out of touch with reality in some way.

    Only thing I'd find strange is that the husband just tells her right off, just because she remarks he's tired. What is his motivation for telling her? Is he a controlling psychopath who knows she'll do nothing? Is he psychotic and will spill to whoever if provoked?

    Sure, maybe every plot idea has been done, but if you put your own spin on this I think it could turn out great.
     
  12. joanna
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    joanna Active Member

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    Also, this could be a psychological thriller.
     
  13. jc.
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    jc. Contributing Member

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    This is exactly what I think. I also think that my personality flaw and reason for not turning my husband in is that I am a little bit out of touch with reality. ;)
     
  14. picklzzz
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    picklzzz Senior Member

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    It could be a comedy! Thriller comes to mind though. Maybe even sci-fi. It can be anything you make it. Now, imagine a situation where you would ever in a million years not report or turn against someone, even a family member, for killing someone. Especially for such a reason as the person beat them in a competition. Maybe she's also a killer and they're soulmates who found each other? i read a story once where the couple got off (sexually) on watching videos of people they'd murdered together. It upset me so much I couldn't continue. It was too graphic for my tastes. Maybe she was so abused, either by him or otherwise, that she's afraid to leave. Maybe there are kids involved. Brainstorm a list. See what fits. Maybe she's under a magic spell, or is ill and needs her husband no matter what, or maybe she secretly hated the guy he killed and is glad. Think Serial Mom. Her husband didn't seem to be too upset with her. But then again, that was a parody. I'm thinking also of the movie Mr. Jones (I think that's the title, with Richard Gere as the serial killer).

    There are so many possibilities. I think you have to develop the characters more before you can come up with a plausible reason.
     
  15. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I think the most likely scenario is an abused spouse situation.

    There's something called "foot in the door effect." It refers to the fact that, while generally people wouldn't go along with something huge all in one bite, they're more likely to accept it if it creeps up on them slowly. In your case, no one in their right mind will stay with someone who admits "hey, honey, I killed 20 people and their bodies are stacked in the basement...will you forgive me?" However, if it started out 10 years ago with occasional backhanded comments, then slowly escalated into verbal abuse, then physical abuse, then escalating levels of criminal behavior all over a long span of time...someone with low levels of assertion is going to have a harder time saying "hey, wait a minute" and backing out.
     

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