Creating Crime and Mystery
Sue Raines

Creating the Demons

Serial Killers, Psychopaths, Stalkers.
They are all around us. They intrigue, repulse, fascinate and frighten us.

These people in normal life act normal and for the most part do normal things, have a family, go to a regular job, until that significant day when they break out of the mould and become predators.

As a writer you will find it unsettling, scary even to fictionalise the gruesome facts. Truth helps little as a psychopath’s life is a black hole, they are relentless and single minded in what they do. Driven by an obsessive need for power and control over their victim.

Like a wild animal, a psychopathic serial killer will meticulously track his prey, stalking and recording their every move: what time they leave for work, where they work, what hours they wake and sleep, how they travel, who they associate with. All this may take weeks before the killer feels confident to strike. As the psychopath becomes more aggressive and his needs more urgent he will act faster and the attacks will be more frequent with less preparation almost like ‘catch me if you can’.

The police’s job is to recreate the bizarre fantasy, find out why this particular victim was chosen and any relationship to a possible killer. This all represents a time bomb ticking for your Investigator as she or he tries to race ahead of the killer striking again, knowing that each attack will be more violent and occur more frequently.

Different Types of Crimes:

Your readers will be familiar with the tales of Jack the Ripper, that famous London serial killer who stalked and killed prostitutes and mutilated their bodies in an age where criminal and medical science was not yet advanced.  Many pieces of evidence were overlooked and the crime scene contaminated.  Numerous suspects were put forward as the killer of these gruesome unsolved crimes and to this day books are still being written on this fascinating topic. Author Patricia Cornwell’s book Portrait of a Killer cleverly uses modern scientific techniques and experts world-wide to reopen and reinvestigate the Jack the Ripper file in conjunction with Scotland Yard and thus illustrates the vast advances science has made in solving crimes.

Jack the Rippers still exist here in the 21st Century. The killer or rapist driven by sexual hostility and anger towards women will not only attack his victims, but will maim, kill and mutilate to get his thrill. His pattern is recognisable and as his hostility and anger increases, his crimes become more frequent and more violent. Contrary to popular belief rape is not entirely a sexual act, it is an act of violence, power and control which uses sex as a weapon.

Case History:

John Wayne Glover, a middle aged, grey haired, quietly spoken pie salesman became known as ‘The Granny Killer’. His family and friends were shocked when it was revealed after a 12 month killing spree during which he had attacked seven elderly women in broad daylight. Only two survived, but suffered massive head injuries and were of little assistance to the police in offering a description. The attacks in a quiet well -to-do leafy garden suburb where retirees felt safe, started out as a bag snatch where the 86 year old was punched in the face. Some months later another elderly resident was attacked at the entrance to her retirement village in the same area. This 84 year old survived though she suffered a battering to the head. She told police the man was quietly spoken and approached her to help her home with her shopping. When they reached the front door he attacked her.

The attacks escalated, becoming more frequent as close as only 24 hours apart and moving to adjacent areas but always the victims were elderly women and always killed close to home, one found in the garden of the retirement village where she lived. The killer was no longer using his fists to attack, a bar or blunt instrument was now used to batter them to death. A police profiler advised that this was the culmination of the psychopath’s fantasies which even for him were getting out of control. He didn’t just wake up one morning and decide to kill elderly pensioners. He would have a past of violence and crime but would appear quiet normal to those around him on a day to day basis.

When caught, Glover had attempted suicide and left a note saying “No more Grannies...” He didn’t die from his injuries and was gaoled for six life sentences, his file marked never to be released. John Glover’s problems were life-long, he had an intense hatred of his mother and his mother-in-law. His background, when revealed, was well peppered with offences of petty theft and violence against women - all recorded.

If you want to write about these types of serial killers, as has well known Scottish author Val McDermid, do your research. The true crimes available for study for facts are grim enough. You will not need to add sensationalism.

Making your serial killer basically a stalker, bag snatcher, opportunistic rapist or killer is fine but don’t forget there is always a pattern and your investigator will be trying to piece together the links between the victims, their age, social connections or location as well as the time of day or night the crimes are committed. This point could be of great significance if there is consistency.

Create a story plan and use it to add tension and to keep your story line moving. You need to convince the reader that this is not just a ‘one off’ killing, that a dangerous psychopath is on the loose and that he could be sitting next to you on the bus on the way to work.

It is essential that you show, not tell your reader, thus creating pace and tension, it’s okay to slow the pace for awhile and in other parts quicken the pace, this helps involve the reader in your story. You want them to suspend belief and become totally involved, not wanting to put the story down until the very end.

Until next time when we will again stroll through the pages of Crime and Mystery together. Keep writing.

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About the Writer:

Sue Raines is a freelance writer and playwright. Having turned her talents to crime and mystery writing Sue has found a niche in teaching the genre. Other works include articles, book reviews and short stories published in magazines and anthologies. A member of Partners in Crime Sydney, she is also an avid reader of crime and mystery fiction.