How To Kill Someone

Killing people is easy, at least for writers. (Now all you weirdoes who came here to see how to really kill people can leave.) Now, the hardest thing to do is to sell the idea. I’ve never killed a person. I don’t really know all the feelings involved. I’m sure most writers don’t so we have to sell the idea that we have, or at least sell the idea that are character can kill someone.

I like to view seeing a story in my head as staring through windows. I open one and sit with my elbows on the sill, a laptop and sometimes a glass of water and stare at the contents. Many times I feel like I have no involvement in it – I’m just a scribe. The story exist as it does and it’s my job to get an accurate description of what happens. Stephen King also describes this in a similar manner in On Writing but as fossils. I like windows.

So there I am, with my laptop – sometimes with my iPad or iPhone – peering out a window watching someone die. That’s a pretty normal day for me. I’ve never killed anyone; but I think of other people doing it all the time, hence all the windows. So this window is one that floats above a grassy, sunny space away from any form of life besides these two people. One is on his knees and the other is holding him down, from the throat. Have I ever seen this event? Not in real life, just in movies, images in my mind and the internet. So let’s continue this as a story, or a window.

The sky is bright, probably too bright for such a scene; but it’s too late now, Jerry had already begun what he thought he would never do. I shuffle and write that in my laptop. Click. Clickty. Click. I know the other man’s name, Leroy. Why? I don’t know, that’s just his name and it will always be his name, even though I’m watching him die. His eyes, bulge, his face reddens first, and then it fades. It fades like a man slowly turning into a ghost, white and it’s sickening. Something in my stomach churns; but I watch and I type. I like watching.

Jerry’s face. It’s different, it’s not full of anger, it’s full of satisfaction. There’s no smile, just that look, a stoic pleasurable form of satisfaction. And Leroy dies, his face blue, his eyes like swollen white berries. Leroy dies. Click. Clickty. Klack. Klack. Klack. 

So how do you kill someone? With what you see. Ignore everything else. Did those things really happen the way I describe? Who knows? That’s the way I see it and that’s all that really matters. After all, are they buying the truth, or a story. Are they reading because what happens in the book is “possible”. No. If you want possible things watch the news. I’m here to show what I see in the windows.

I’ve read reviews where people say, “I don’t believe that’s possible,” or “Come one why would it happen on a sunny, happy grassy knoll.” The truth is I don’t know, it just did and I’m portraying that as best I can (I’m no professional, just another self-pub writer but a happy self-pub writer). Have I ever seen a person’s face turn all those crazy things. Nah. For all I know it doesn’t even happen that way.

Research is important, just for the fact that there’s a lot of douches and trolls ready to pick something apart if you don’t research. They expect our omniscient to be almost godlike. We writers know that isn’t possible, but we try. Try. For gods sake, try. Then with that research, you’ll feel confident. That’s what sells death – confidence. If you truly believe what you see is really happening, people will to.

As a writer, I like to think I’m lenient on a lot of things, I even over look spelling and send the author corrections. Yeah, I’m hardcore. But please do some homework, don’t change names and leave me confused. And not re-reading your story isn’t killing anyone but your readers. When I’m staring out my window watching poeple die, I tend to write too fast and misspell, miswrite, or just plain miss something important. So edit. Edit, edit, edit and then get someone else to edit. Please. Then kill some more people.

-L. Vera

Check out Part 2: How To Kill People The Right Way

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17 Comments

  1. We give birth to people, too — it’s not always destruction. And make them suffer, oh yes. Suffering is good. Only because it makes for good narrative tension. Of course, of course — not because it’s fun. Well, all right — it is.

    • Every story has birth. Every character has their own creation. That might make a good post for next week. Thanks for the ideas Kate. Don’t stop being awesome.

  2. The sky is bright, probably too bright for such a scene; but it’s too late now, Jerry had already begun what he thought he would never do.

    Leroy had slowed his struggle to futile attempts of movement as Jerry’s weight pinned him to the tiled floor. The life draining in the same characteristic ways from Leroy’s eyes. Jerry felt a calm as he strangled his victim with his bear sized hands. He felt his callus from the knife wound of his chef career scratch the soft tissue of Leroy’s neck. Now focussing on his hands he could feel the blood slow, the slight pull of a vacuum of struggling breath and the adams apple pressing down on his thumbs.

    Curiousity. He wanted to know what happens if he loosened his grip just a little.

    Leroy, on his last thoughts felt the slight release and relaxed. The thought of Jerry subsiding his attack heavy on mind. His lungs took some more air, his brain felt a rush.

    Jerry saw the serenity on dying man’s face as he releases the tension, he felt the a slight breath rattlog the vocal cords and the veins pump softer but faster. Did his eyelids just twitch? He wasn’t sure. He wasn’t going to take the chance. To late now. He strengthened his grip and panic returned to Leroy. The expression returned and inside Jerry smiled, showing but q peaceful expression himself at his deed. Is this enjoyment?

    The blood stopped.pumping beneath his grasp. He held for what seemed a half hour hut the time on his watch proved to be only a sixth of an hour. Five minutes. He pulled his hands away to reveal the moulded finger marks. The imprints in Leroys neck did not fade.

    Jerry leaned back and sighed “Leroy is dead”

    • I like to look in other peoples windows and find myself wanting more detail. It’s worse when i re-read my own work, because he edit, re edit, add, move, shift, reword, edit, edit, edit. Than i wonder where my story went.

      Killing characters is as fun for me as creating, growing and altering. It’s just another moment in life to write.

  3. I have a serious problem killing of characters. Mathair is constantly curbing my homicidal tendencies, but I feel readers can relate better to a story when there are real-life situations and death is a prominent fixture in our world.

  4. I m in the middle of writing myself right now. My first attempt at actual soul, gut clinching horror and I have to kill a beloved husband off and it was getting so hard I ended up up writing over 1500 words today that I will have to just delete because it was nothing but me procrastinating! LOVE this article! I am so new to this form of creative writing it scares me to even write, so killing off a character? EEP! Thanks again! So glad I found you tribemate!

    • Thanks. I find myself killing way to many people off. But that’s what each window holds. 🙂

  5. One of my characters had to kill some people in my first novel. It felt weird writing it because I don’t think I would ever kill someone except for self-defense. But I think it has to be done just right or it won’t be believable. You have to get the details right as far as how a person dies exactly and how one feels killing a human being. Interesting post!

    • One time and only one time, I’ve saved a character. He was just too fun to write.

  6. You can do anything-anything in a story. Revenge, murder! Even worse — requite that unrequited love!

  7. Hey Luis. I want to be a writer so I can kill someone. Maybe I should start with some flash fiction! Go for the quick kill.

  8. […] How to Kill Someone by L. Vera at A Knife and a Quill […]

  9. Hi, I just read this and I think its really helpful. I’m a 15 year old aspiring writer and I’m writing my second book, though I’ve never published the first. But I plan on publishing this one. My murderer, Eddy, is a sick minded man who turns his love for this woman into the desire to ruin her life and kill her. I plan on him killing her friends and her sister. But I need good methods. Please email me aishsingh@cellc.blackberry.com
    I would really appreciate your help. If anyone else reads this, please…I would really appreciate it:)

  10. […] sequel to “How To Kill Someone“. Confidence was the main theme of that last article. You can’t sell a death if you […]


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