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  1. mazg

    mazg New Member

    Jan 5, 2012
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    A murder story: hero, conflict and voice

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by mazg, Jan 5, 2012.

    I am trying my hand at my first creative writing project. The plot is based on a true story of the murder of one of my husband's ancestors. The murderess is one of the few women sentenced to death row in Canada for murder (later commuted to 15 years for lack of evidence - she was the only known person in the house at the time of death of the victim). I have no background in creative writing or the study of literature although I have written several lengthy family history narratives. My research has led me down the path of identifying a hero and a conflict which is where I am struggling.

    I see two main options for the hero. The murderess herself or the judge at the murder trial. This has led me to ask the following questions.

    1. Can a murderess be the hero of the story for reasons other than self-defence? A brief search has led me to the murder in "Of mice and men", a murder I consider altruistic and possibly noble (to save his friend from the anger of the townspeople). Does anyone know of any other instances where the hero of the story commits murder for less noble reasons but maintains the sympathy of the reader?

    Does anyone have thoughts on using the following *justifications*:
    - in order to prevent a non-physical harm occurring to her lover (such as disinheriting him or selling the family homestead from under him)
    - in order to prevent a personal secret being exposed
    - mental cruelty (ridicule, insults etc)
    - in order to prevent being turned in as an enemy of war (a German living in Canada during WW1)
    - removing a disapproving parent who forbids marriage

    2. I am torn between the following two options for point of view/voice. Does anyone have any comments on pros and cons for each point of view?
    - From the point of view of the murderess herself. I feel like this puts me down the road of committing to state whether she did or didn't do it. Conflict, would likely be over committing the deed. Is it justifiable?
    - From the point of view of the Judge. He could uncover the history of the case as she and other witnesses testify. Conflict, would be convicting someone who appears unlikely to be a murderer with only circumstantial evidence.

    I would really appreciate some feedback, thanks.

  2. tcol4417

    tcol4417 Member

    Jul 27, 2009
    Likes Received:
    Sydney, AU
    A murder can certainly be the PROTAGONIST of the story. HERO might be a little more difficult.

    The difference is that we are expected to empathise with a protagonist complete with their uncertainties and misgivings, whereas the hero is the champion of good and more or less morally sound. Just something to mull over.

    The reasons you cited in point 1 are certainly feasible as long as you can write them realistically. For example, the first would require a sort of fanatical devotion to her lover, the second would need to be a BIG secret or a sudden/accidental act of desperation, the third would have to be combined with a smouldering, psychotic hatred or at the very least, violent mood swings, the fourth would have to take place in a culturally paranoid nation (which I can't imagine Canada being) and the fifth again would require a fanatical devotion etc.

    With regards to question 2, it's possible for a person to blank out under duress. You could leave it up in the air whether she or her lover committed the deed and have her lover confirm or deny either way (if he's lying it could be to protect her or himself). In the end he may actually turn out to be a selfish jerk.
    While it certainly makes it easier to explain the facts, doing it from the Judge's perspective removes the humanity and emotional investment. It would be like reading Fight Club from a reporter's perspective after everything had gone down: You're not getting elbow-deep in what makes it REAL.

    In summary:
    1) Any of the above, as long as it's believable.
    2) Judge for efficiency, murderess for emotion.
  3. mazg

    mazg New Member

    Jan 5, 2012
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    Thanks for pointing out the difference between a hero and a protagonist, now I get it!

    I've settled on writing from the murderess point of view. I will likely take your suggestion and do the black out thing. That way I can stick to the true fact that she never admits guilt, in fact she says she never went near the victim although they were in the same house. I will create the story with the idea that the victim is the antagonist and inflicts mental cruelty on the murderess (again following the known facts of the case).

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