You Are What You Write: Murder

blood writing

It is said that novelists write better when they ‘write what they know’, but for a lot of plots, this is difficult. For instance, I use the example of myself and other mystery or thriller writers. In contrast to creating the sorts of villains who are from another world or from the future (to use the Sci-Fi and Fantasy umbrellas as contrasts), our characters cannot be made up aliens out to conquer the world we know. Instead, villains of the mystery drama are often very normal people, set off on a killing spree by an inner passion – the crime passionnel – and turned against their fellow man by the littlest of things. We see this in the everyday with the phrase ‘the straw that breaks the camel’s back’. Yet, this is more serious. These characters may not be unhinged or depressed or violent, even, but they still kill, showing that each human has that potential within them.

It could be anybody. I once saw an episode of a murder mystery series where a vicar was the murderer. What I mean to say is that there’s no way of telling. And, whilst supervillains often have grounded reasons and abilities, the every-day people are just that: normal.

This idea brings me onto (or rather, back) to my devised term ‘the Writer Phenomenon’, which suggests that the subconscious has a large part in the creation of pieces of literature. Today, I look at personality.

A blog I happen to follow, of Andrea J. Wenger, uses the Myers-Briggs Personality types to aid writers in their methods. For instance, as an INFJ, I start first drafts with a lot of ideas for the bigger picture; I use my intuition to roam, but miss out on the details. That’s why one gets the florid phrases!

From Ms. Wenger:

Intuitive writers come to understand the world by letting their unconscious mind discover patterns and connections between ideas. They value insights into the implications of the facts more than they do the facts themselves. With their abstract perspective, they enjoy theories, complexity, and creating an overall vision.

If you’re an intuitive writer, you may tend to think in generalities. This makes it difficult to connect with readers. Be specific. Include relevant facts and details. Say what you mean rather than simply implying it. Don’t make intuitive leaps without connecting the dots for your readers.


An approximation diagram of how vast the subconscious is.

However, I stand that it’s more than that for authors: the personality may affect one’s methods, but it’s easy to get around that with practise. The Writer Phenomenon, on the other hand, explores and ‘takes’ (if we imagine it as a selection process in the mind) from the subconscious, and the writer can do little about it. In the same way that our choice may be an illusion – if one chooses (!) to believe in Determinism (I personally don’t) – our ability to decide on plot and character and setting may be influenced by the subconscious more than we suspect.

So? You are what you write. And, for me, that’s a frightening idea. Of course, I’m not saying that writers of thrillers and mysteries are themselves serial killers hiding their dead bodies in their backyards, or thinking of how to make someone’s life either a misery or non-existent – or even murderers-in-waiting. The genre not maketh the man. I know a couple of horror writers who are ’emos’, but that does not mean they are the rule.

What I mean is that maybe – just, maybe – there’s a part of any of us that bears the killer-streak, on the balance of lashing out in the wrong combination of stress and emotion. I know there’s a part of me there, beyond the subconscious, in the conscious, if not in the front of my mind. That’s why it’s frightening. I know how to kill. I know how to conceal.

And I know how to save. In‘Of Moscow Mysteries’, my supporting character has to stop a rapid-acting poison – but she does. And that’s what keeps a virtuous mind going when plagued by anti-righteous values of hate.

Too, though, I’m not going to deny that, even when there is a spark of good in all of us, there is also the chance for a spark of evil.

Of course, this is a simple hypothesis that I hope to expand upon in the future. However, I cannot say that I have scientific proof to it yet. I just enjoy creating ideas!


6 thoughts on “You Are What You Write: Murder

  1. They say ‘write what you know’ but what do ‘they’ know anyway? 😉 I think what they mean by you are what you write is there will be certain themes and story modes you will often employ that tell you a lot about who you are and what you think is important. Sometimes it gets a little personal unintentionally. Examine the common themes of the books you’ve written and see what they say about you. But I don’t think just because there’s murder or betrayal in a book you’ve written that it means you will be a murderer or a betrayer necessarily.

    Maybe what they mean by write what you know is use what you have to write. You may not understand what it means to be fired from your dream job because a co-worker set you up, but you do understand disappointment, betrayal from your own experiences and can bring that knowledge to give that event the texture it needs.

    Love your posts, they always get me thinking. 🙂

    • I don’t know why, but I’m fascinated by how much the subconscious can affect writing. I don’t know whether that’s just myself and habit coming in, but I find there are some things that are close to what I know without my meaning to write them in.
      But, yes, I agree with what you have said. We know the integral feelings of situations, even if we have never been faced with those situations. I guess it takes a lot of imagination to be a writer, because we are taking ourselves away, whilst still applying ‘what we know’. There’s also that aspect that writers have to research a lot. I follow a blog of a fantasy writer with a habit of maiming or killing her characters, who says that her Google history is always full of quite vicious searches.
      Perhaps when what we need to know becomes what we know, the idea is altered…. *ponders*

      I’m glad you like these posts. They’re becoming more and more wordy *backs away from expanding text*. It feels like I haven’t been getting many views lately, but that might be the new WordPress, so it’s always great to see comments from you and hear your opinion. 🙂

      • I guess you could chop them down if you wanted. Are you checking out a lot of other people’s blogs and commenting? That can help generate views. I tend to comment more on the blogs of friends myself, but I try to branch out. 😉

        • I’m trying to. I follow so many on email, it’s tiring by the tioe I finish reading through posts, and then I have to think about the next post for myself as well as any writing tasks I have for the day. I have no time! 😦

  2. Pingback: Happy Birthday Blog! | Lit and Scribbles with Jae

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