Monday, November 9, 2009
I'm still in nanoville over here.
15,000 words written. Which means I'm 30% into the game. Plenty more time to get the remaining 70%.
70% <<- Urk. So intimidating. Especially considering that last week I was at 90% to go. Unless I'm opening my Word doc and actually checking out the three chapters completed, it doesn't really look like I've done much. :)
While reading the news this morning, I came across the one story about the guy in Colorado who woke early in the morning (Saturday or Sunday) to the sound of his dog barking. He went outside and found a dead body on his front yard. The body was that of somebody who had lived nearby.
That is a mystery waiting to be written. There is always a mundane explanation - the guy 's corpse got dropped off at the wrong house. The killer just randomly threw the body out of his truck/car/bike* and amscrayed.
*Yes, I'm mostly kidding about the bike, but you never know.
Where the imagination comes in is trying to figure out an out of the ordinary explanation for the body. Like maybe it was deliberately planted on that guy's property. You never know. I have neighbors who keep getting pranked by people who don't like them. They get dead deer or parts of a deer dropped off on their yard every once in a while. As the corpses appear to be several days if not months old, the neighbors assume they're getting planted.
Other story recently in the news which is a bit darker and... well, thought provoking is the one down in Ohio. That would be with the guy who had been living with 11 (if not more) dead bodies all over his house and property.
What an author can take from this story is the character details - learning how to create a perfect villain without falling into the cartoony "he did this evil thing because he is evil and likes to do evil things for the heck of it".
Looking at vids of the guy in court, I felt almost a bit sorry for him. I know that sounds BAD and I'm by no means excusing anything he did. It's revolting, horrific, terrible... monstrous. But that guy is clearly mentally ill. You can tell by the look on his face in the videos and pictures. I know people like that. They generally live in an alternate reality, and get all obsessive about imagined wrongs or perceptions.
One guy I know snapped suddenly in his mid-twenties. Suddenly he started talking about a relationship he had with a neighborhood girl who had died ten years before. A completely fictitous relationship that we knew couldn't possibly have happened. But he was convinced it had. He was convinced the girl was haunting him and he hated her passionately. And he was convinced regular girls he saw at the stores or elsewhere looked like her or were her. There was another neighbor, a boy this time, who this guy had a similar reaction to. According to the crazy guy's alternate reality, they were friends who played basketball together, but this guy betrayed him horribly, so the crazy guy hated him passionately and kept trying to get out and throw rocks and dirt at his house. That crazy guy had the same look in his eyes as that guy down in Ohio. As he got worse in his head, the more violent and obsessive he got about those people he hated. There is no telling what the crazy guy I know would have done if his family were not involved and keeping him under control.
The thing that bothers me the most about the case down in Ohio is the feeling like this sort of thing has happened before throughout history. If you read up on Jack the Ripper, it was basically the same deal. The unwanteds in society were preyed on and murdered. If anyone got away from the guy, they were afraid to go to the police because they had their own problems with the law. The local police were slow-moving or nonresponsive, because they had no real interest in that portion of society - because they were the common rabble and petty criminals.
It's just really sad and sickening how the worth of some humans can be less than others. Even now, the public reaction is mesmerized, but there isn't the same level of instant HORROR and OUTRAGE that happens when a single person of higher ranking in society is murdered.
Anyway - If you are a writer and trying to build a believable villain, consider cases like the guy down in Ohio and build the layers.