Stress in everyday life creates all kinds of moments where any sane person might briefly think, I want to kill that guy! This is normal, and so is the momentary fantasy that usually follows. But, being a sane, rational person, you’ve probably stifled those fantasies somewhere in the middle, tucking those dirty thoughts away in your brain under the label, “don’t go there.” Stop that, because you are stifling your best source of creative writing material. Yes friends, it’s time to tear that old label down and go there, to that awful, horrible place where everyone dies, usually just for the crime of being excessively stupid. Here, creative writing excels in relieving stress. After all, for your hobby, you can kill everyone who has ever pissed you off, and you’ll feel zero guilt the next day.
Did the grocery sacker forget your Doritos? Kill him. Did your boss say something to make you mad? Make him eat his pen. Or maybe one of your coworkers thought he was eating someone else’s lunch besides yours? Poison him with the next lunch. Did your husband leave the toilet seat up again? Glue him to the seat and decapitate him with a chainsaw. Kill them. Kill them all…on your keyboard.
This kind of creative writing exercise is one with many benefits. First of all, you can apply this skill to mystery writing, crime fiction, horror, or even handling the details of a death in mainstream fiction. The trick is in deciding what details of a murder scene you want to focus on. Are you only going to describe the violence and death, or do you maybe want to set the mood and the scene first?
The level of detail you place in the scene determines what kind of story you’ll end up with. If you focus solely on the act, and you make the deed brutal, that’s horror or crime fiction. If you give lots of details, but without being gory, that’s crime fiction and mysteries. And if you get purple in describing the scene and the characters, but then spend two sentences on your murder, that’s mystery and mainstream.
As you’ll notice, there’s room to play with those definitions, and I’m leaving out many genres where people die a lot, like science fiction and fantasy. But this is yet another reason why killing people in fiction is so rewarding. There are so many ways to kill people, and there are so many variations on the same themes that you can play with this one creative writing exercise for your entire life and never get tired of it. Getting into science fiction, you can kill the cop who gave you a ticket last week…with a light saber. How cool it that? (Sure you could just tell them, “You didn’t see me speeding.” But that’s not the Sith way, is it? Come to the dark side, little one…touch a dark Sith. Touch it! ahem…I digress.)
In your first writing exercises, you may be tempted to do it all, but I’d advise that you focus on specific goals. Focus on the death for this exercise, and don’t try to build too much plot into the scene. There doesn’t have to be a rhyme or reason for the death. You’re just killing someone who pissed you off. That is the reason for the scene, and there doesn’t have to be anything else.
For instance, you can kill the sacker by suffocating him with a plastic sack. Describe the checkout counter that you took the sack from, or describe the reactions of the other people. Bear in mind, it is a fantasy. It doesn’t need to be realistic, so if the other shoppers start cheering, because they’ve also lost items, it’s okay.
You can focus on the act itself, and try to describe how a human face looks under a layer of wrinkled white plastic. Does the bag have the store’s label? Or the slogan? Is the slogan in the checker’s mouth, or is it over their forehead? And how much is the checker struggling with you while he’s asphyxiating? Have I creeped you out yet? And no, this isn’t a plastic bag in my pocket. I am very happy to see you, really.
Every time that you sit down to kill someone, think about describing them well. I don’t mean a description like this:
Tom was a big, fat, stupid jerk, who ate other people’s lunches at work.
That’s great (and kinda poetic), and the sentence does sum up the point of the story quickly. But what does Tom look like? Show your invisible readers something by describing your intended target, and try to be objective. You’re going to kill the jerk in due time, so let your narrator be neutral about Tom’s appearance. Admit that he has nice eyes, and then take them out with a spoon and microwave them. Or…you can go with poisoning him too. I’m just tossing out ideas here, so you can experiment if you like. Smashing his head into the vending machine would be really bloody though, wouldn’t it? Hmmm…well, it’s food for thought, right?
Let’s talk about your boss. Oh, you know you want to talk about your boss. You want to shut them up right in the middle of one of their rants. You want to pick up their fancy fountain pen-the one they’re too stupid to use-and drive it right through their open mouth. Write it all down in exquisitely gory detail, and save it for later.
You don’t need to make a whole novel out of one death, or even one full page. A few paragraphs will do nicely in most cases. You don’t need to have every death scene make perfect sense. More than a bit of mental masturbation, this creative writing assignment tasks you with defining all of the most important elements of writing in one flash of brutal honesty. Mood, scene, character, action, and dialogue must all flow together with a balance between each element. The more often you practice killing people, the more often you begin to think in terms of how you want to stage the crime, instead of the crime or the person themselves.
Soon, you’ll be able to kill people as a mental exercise, and you won’t cut yourself short in the middle. When some guy cuts you off on the highway, you can think, Hey, screw you, buddy. I’ll be killing you tonight.
On a final note, do remember to save all of your efforts for later on. This might seem like a bad idea, seeing as how these writings will make you look insane. But you can always go back to study earlier samples of your work to find ideas for your newer stories. There’s no crime committed by plagiarizing your older non-published works. Just, don’t start killing people according to what you wrote down. Please.
In addition to giving you a source of useful ideas, these older works are reference points that you can study much later on in your writing hobby or career. As you progress to higher skill levels, you will find more and more mistakes leap out at you in your older writing samples. This will also make the urge to throw them away stronger, but resist it, and hold on to your lousy stuff. Always let it remind you that you can write poop, just like everyone else. You will also be able to see which mistakes are staying with you, allowing you to more effectively address your weaker areas in future stories.
That’s it for the happy subject of killing people. Tune in for my next guide, when I explain what to do once you’ve got a large binder full of dead coworkers and neighbors who didn’t return your yard equipment on time.