Writers really are a strange breed and just so y’all know? The normal ship sailed without you a long time ago so relax. Your family or friends might not ‘get’ you but your fellow writers do.
I love being a writer. It’s a world like no other and it’s interesting how non-writers are simultaneously fascinated and terrified of us. While on the surface, people seem to think that what we do is easy, deep down?
There is a part that knows they’re wrong. That being a writer, a good writer, is a very dark place most fear to tread.
Happy Friday the 13th! *evil laugh*
In fact, I believe somewhere at the FBI’s BAU (Behavioral Analysis Unit for the non-writers), there’s a caveat for the profilers. If they think they’ve profiled a serial killer, they need to stop and double check to make sure they didn’t just find a writer.
Hint: Check for empty Starbuck’s cups and candy wrappers.
Writers, if you are NOT on a government watch list? You’re doing it wrong.
Seriously. I once spent an entire afternoon googling Fort Worth hotels to find the right one with a balcony to toss someone off of. I was like the Goldilocks of Murder.
Nope doesn’t face a street.
Not high enough to be fatal.
Don’t want them landing in a pool.
Apparently ‘normal’ people do not do this, which is why being normal is totally boring and for luzrs 😛 .
So, before friends and family turn you into the FBI, here’s a handy list of ways we writers are often mistaken for serial killers.
Serial Killers Writers Need Alone Time
Generally, dealing with the public is only for a purpose (like making others think we are normal). To truly recharge and immerse in the art of what we do, we need to pull back and simply ‘get away.’
Many writers can be found in basements, dark corners of libraries, hiding in a blanket fort with Netflix streaming in the background or lurking behind a desk surrounded by illegal bear traps.
Serial Killers Writers Often Hold Down a ‘Normal’ Job
Many writers are also teachers, lawyers, doctors, librarians, engineers (or likely married to an engineer—What is WITH that?).
We are often friendly, polite and on-time and hold down gainful employment. This is what makes writers SO terrifying.
Odds are, you probably work with one.
Might even be married to one.
If you don’t work with one, are not married to one, or related to one?
YOU ARE ONE.
Serial Killers Writers Can Look Just like YOU
When our book comes out, neighbors will say, ‘But she seemed so nice and normal. Really polite. Always thought something was off, but writing? Really? Who can ever know these things?’
Serial Killers Writers Understand Law Enforcement
And probably dated it…
….until they married an engineer.
When planning any murder or series of murders, we have to know our enemy. The cops. What are ways we can confuse them?
Can we kill in multiple jurisdictions knowing the law agencies will never properly communicate and thus we can kill as many people as our plot requires? Is it possible to run the police down a rabbit hole of distraction?
Could we evade them altogether? Get rid of ALL the evidence?
Serial Killers Writers Use Terms Like T.O.D.
Throw T.O.D. around a writers’ group and no problemo. But using this term at Thanksgiving with the family? Meh.
We writers know the best time of year to kill and dump the body and which season a shallow grave is an acceptable option. No writer ever sees just a freezer. Or just a car trunk.
Trust me, we are thinking how many people we can fit in that sucker and if we’ll have to saw apart the body first.
Serial Killers Writers Hear Voices That Tell Them Who to Kill
And often talk to those voices. We might be driving to Costco when ‘The Voice’ (a.k.a. ‘The Muse’) visits and tells us that we really shouldn’t kill that @$$hat who stood us up for prom.
No, that guy who bailed on his ONE part of the group project, and we got a B instead of an A+? That guy.
Then, so enraptured with talking to The Voice, we find we missed the last fifty exits and have to hope there’s a Costco in the neighboring state.
Serial Killers Writers Choose Victims Carefully
Generally our victims will include anyone who picked on us for playing too much Journey (no such thing), broke up with us via text message, or told us reading was boring.
Victims can also include former professors who always assigned group projects, anyone who was IN our group for a group project, the person who invented group projects…or anyone who’s in charge at Comcast or AT&T.
Serial Killers Writers Plan Their Kills Methodically
Sure you might get the fantasy or sci-fi author who just wipes out a bunch of villages or blows up a planet, but that’s a different profile. Mass murderer/spree killer is so unimaginative.
For the rest of us? No, we think our kills out. We can’t just kill anyone lest we be left with a pacing and plot problem.
Duh. This isn’t amateur hour.
Serial Killers Writers Have a Timeline for Their Kills
Sure the body count will rise, but during revisions? We just go back and spend quality time with the souvenirs we took off our victims. We might even take breaks between books because we can’t murder characters without a plan.
Serial Killers Writers are Narcissists
Seriously, we have to be. Who else can write hundreds of thousands of words just knowing the world will love every bit of what we put down? And PAY MONEY to consume it? Narcissists have a God-complex but unlike serial killers who pretend to be God?
We writers actually ARE GOD—muah ha ha ha ha ha *coughs*.
Serial Killers Writers Take People Apart
We crawl in your head, but don’t get too freaked out. We crawl in everyone’s head. We think like you. We become you.
Okay so when ACTORS do this it is OKAY and all AVANTE GARDE, but a writer does this and it’s creepy? Hypocritical much?
We need to know how people think, what makes them tick, what sets them off. What are the right pain points and speaking of pain…
Serial Killers Writers Are Also Sadists
Excellent fiction is the path of greatest resistance which means good writers are all about exacting pain. Doling it out bit by bit. Upping the heat and making that victim and all who love him squirm, then panic, then question the very meaning of their existence.
We push our victims until just before that spark of hope in their eyes extinguishes completely…..
And then we give them a bone and rescue them so there. We aren’t completely heartless. Sheesh, these people are imaginary.
Why so freaked out? Seriously, chillax.
Serial Killers Writers Struggle with Addiction/Compulsion
Drugs and alcohol? Maybe. Sugar and caffeine? Highly likely. Carbs? DEFINITELY. Books and cute bookmarks we never use because we lost them and so have to use the receipt from purchasing the freaking bookmark as a bookmark? Absolutely.
serial killers writers can often be spotted wandering around a craft store talking to the yarn or contemplating learning to make their own jewelry. Males?
Angels and Devils
Yeah, yeah writers could be mistaken for serial killers but in the end, everything we do is for the ultimate good. We actually have to write in mistakes lest our villain remain free and that is bad fiction.
Speaking of which, have you ever created a villain so good you had to go BACK and write in some oopses? Like, ‘Wow, this guy’s good. Nope, they’d never catch him. Ah $#%&.’
Also, our lowly protagonist can never rise to become a hero without overwhelming opposition.
Okay, so some of you by now are either laughing and nodding…or you’re dialing an FBI hotline ready to link them to my blog. Fine, when they haul me away in cuffs, trust me I am making mental notes so when I write a similar scene? I know how cuffs FEEL.
What are your thoughts?
Have you ever had strangers overhear you talking about how to kill someone and you had to stop and say, ‘It’s okay. I’m a writer.’
Do you love Discovery ID just a bit more than is probably healthy? Do you freak out friends and family because autopsies make you giddy? Are you more than a little weirded out that we all seemed to marry engineers?
Food for thought…
Now to the Bad Lamb Academy Public Service Announcement! UPCOMING CLASSES and NEW ON DEMAND!
Authors Who LEARN
Speaking of scary stuff…
Last post we talked about author empowerment and how important it is to understand the business of our business…which can be terrifying.
But RELAX. I am all about FUN. If we’re having fun, we’re more likely to learn. The more we learn the more we earn.
First, if you missed our killer craft classes like How to Write Deep POV or How to Write a Series and MORE, they’re available ON DEMAND.
Secondly, since Maria Grace was actually able to teach ME how to format (and I still can’t set up my email), I talked her into working her magic for Bad Lamb Academy.
We’ve melted our brains so YOU DON’T HAVE TO!
Grace has a class THIS Friday From Dream to Digital: E-Book Formatting 101(use Tech15 for $15 off). And in two weeks (once your brains cool off) she is teaching From Dream to DONE: Formatting for PRINT. If you sign up EARLY you get this class for $75 instead of $99.
BOTH classes are three hours long, but as with all our classes, you get a FREE recording included in the purchase price. So if you can’t make the class or if you DO make the class and simply want to watch the video over and over so you can learn? Up to you.
As for understanding search engines and SEO and blogs and branding? It can be and should be FUN. It’s so simple even I can do it.
This why I have two classes Branding: When Your Name Alone Can Sell (use Brand10 for $10 off) and Spilling the TEA: Blogging for Authors (use Tea10 for $10 off).
Both classes are designed to teach creative people HOW to build a brand that sells books and not your SOUL. Oh, and leave time to actually write the books AND ALSO HAVE FUN!
***You also can always pick up a copy of my evergreen branding book and definitive guide for social media for authors, Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World.
See y’all next time!
Not only did I laugh my head off while reading this, I kept nodding, uh huh! uh huh! Been there, done that! Revenge! In many sneaky ways I must admit to have paid back a few assholes I’ve known by turning them into “fictional” (cough cough) characters. So Thank You for today’s installment.
Great Article – but one correction: “…anyone who’s in charge at Comcast or AT&T…” because no one is in charge there. Like the scene from Apocalypse Now – Martin Sheen: “There ain’t no *********CO here.” Bwwahaha
Bwwwahhhhhaaaa and add the evil laughter. My husband is a lifelong (so it seems) of true crime shows. Yawn. In a way. Yawn. Why? Because he hates taking apart fiction (should he be a victim…? Thinking on it). I tell him It Is In the Script! If they did that, the show would be 2 minutes. pfft. Fool. Yes, yes, perhaps a victim…
We had an 8-body freezer (dang if I don’t accidently tell folks tht) or more if dismembered. Am I the ONLY one who (in the theater) laughed at Fargo? Why is it that serial killers exist in my … romance?
A good villain must be worthy and a really good serial killer is priceless.
So… problems exist in the family when I discuss the perfect murder weapon (tupperware lids are included but haven’t quite figured out how to use them.. yet) with members of the family who look with worry at my hubby and me. The words that usually flow are ‘Hubby are you not a little bit worried?’ Thankfully over the years he has figured out that this is me, my brain. He doesn’t get it since he is a gentle soul (yawn, j/k,sorta), he is the social butterfly of the family while I remain aloof, nice, pretending to listen but with plans to incorporate in a painful death or not, them into the villian or victim profile. The same family members say… ‘Claire, I worry about you.’ Even our weird family. They… get… to DIE.
Great post. I wonder how often the government wonders if that SWAT team should break down my door. I mean, after all, picking off people with guns I know and guns I kinda want, I mean kinda want to understand (own?) , like a great sniper rifle. A great poison. How to GET AWAY WITH MURDER, and sadly on these true crime shows many are prolific writers even for shows like CSI was (too much personal drama later). So… yeah. Between my personal beliefs, political and religious, (hate group and religiosity often associated with the psychotic) and my browsing history that I save and back up, just in case my computer crashes… you know what I mean.
My family is full of engineers.
While dinning with my law enforcement friend the conversation turned into a discussion regarding the merits of bashing skulls with a shovel vs a baseball bat. The waiter approached our table at a particularly gruesome moment, turned white and dropped our wine bottle. We laughed.
Brilliant. Have thoughts of shoplifting your brain. Mine is only lever enough to recognise your delightful originality. Keep ’em coming. And thanks.
This is great. And so true. Love it
I laughed, nodded, laughed some more and then read most of this to my partner, who also nodded. Whenever I’m working out a plot point over dinner, I raise my voice and say “It’s okay, CSIS, I’m a writer!” The gag being that we think our Canadian version of the FBI is camped out on the logging road behind our house with a parabolic microphone and recording equipment.
I married a chemistry teacher which is *even better* (fortunately when he got lymphoma we had really good insurance so we never had to go down the meth route, we won’t talk about the student who *did*, though the kid nicely reassured my husband that he always remembered to wear his goggles).
No Starbucks cups and candy wrappers here… but I do have a severed Jabberwocky head on my desk – oh, and a headless effigy of my mother behind the reclining armchair (perfectly innocent! I can explain!).
Do I get “not a serial killer” points for regular use of an antique teapot, or is that a little too ‘glass of Chianti’?
Oh well, good thing I live outside of FBI jurisdiction 🙂
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go and give someone a less cursory death. A smear of blood on the steps of the throne just isn’t cutting it.
Maybe this is why I enjoy learning about serial killers so much.
Fantastic! And funny. I love the way you write. Many thanks.
Laughed and nodded. I once contacted a coroner to inquire about the state of an unembalmed body after a few months of burial. He was more than happy to give me the details. LOL
I just wrote a comment, but it vanished! Great post. Very funny, but true.
I thought I hadn’t killed many people until
I thought about my current wip.
I killed a man in battle, a child from falling and hitting her head. I threw a baby to a wolf, killed a woman in childbirth, a man from tb and another from stomach cancer. Then there’s the woman who died from heart disease.
Of course all this happens in Viking Britain. My time machine is working overtime! LOL.
Wow! Thank you, Kristen for this post. I always get such a good and inspiring feeling when I read your posts. Thank you!
Great post. Very funny.
I thought I’d not killed many people, then I remembered my current wip. I killed a man in battle, a woman in childbirth, threw a baby to a wolf, another small girl from falling and hitting her head, a woman from heart disease, a man from tb, and another man from stomach cancer! This is all in my current wip! Perhaps I’m more of a serial killer than I thought! LOL.
Such a fun and true read!! It’s the voices in my head that I often struggle to explain to non-writers!
My husband (who has a chemistry degree but works in IT) and I talk plot points at dinner in restaurants. We’ve had that problem with waiters and other diners looking at us like we’re crazy or sizing us up for a call to the FBI.
Best thing ever–getting help with a murder (or tens) from unexpected places. I was writing a bombing. There’s only so much information you can glean from newspaper and TV reports of real bombings (I have a ton of them on the OKC bombing, it’s closest to what I was doing). I told friends on FB that if I called from jail asking for bail money, just bring it without question and that I was going to the Houston PD and ask to talk to the bomb squad.
I swear it wasn’t five minutes after that post that a friend of mine messaged me, “What are you doing and why is the bomb squad going to hear from you.” I explained the project and he answered with a firm, “No, you will NOT go to the bomb squad, you’ll be on a list.”
“Too late, I already have a file with a picture on the local, state, federal agencies and the NSA. Maybe Interpol too.”
“Why do you need to talk to the bomb squad?”
“I’m blowing up a building in the Houston Galleria…” (I live in Houston, btw) “…and I need lessons on how to do it, how much force, etc.” I forgot to say it was for my next book but he knew I was writing so he figured…. (how fun would it be to actually use that info to….oh, yeah, this is on the internet, it is forever!!!)
This is when he reminded me that he was former career army, knew how to do it, and proceeded to give me all the info I needed (with a tweak on the amounts of various materials so that it’s just not going to be a “how to” manual.)
I love my friends. Sources of great information without the police reports.
Love your posts.
Too close to the truth, Kristen!! Love it!
My browser history is pretty damning … lol!
I actually did overhear fellow writer peeps debating over lethal dosages and blood-spatter patterns at a senior-living condo on the way down to the “Murder 101” presentation in the basement of ‘said condo’. The mortification on their faces was priceless!
Great post, Kristen! ?