A sequel to “How To Kill Someone“. Confidence was the main theme of that last article. You can’t sell a death if you don’t believe it. But what else do you need to write a good scene? Here are some other pointers I picked up that I think are useful.
Gore and Blood: I can look back at everything I have ever written and have not once describe how the person died in every vivid detail. Gore and Blood – to me – are almost like overused adverbs. You don’t need them. A simple “And he died” can make a scene dramatic with only a handful of words. Of course you can’t have two people talking and cut straight into it.
“So Murray, whatcha doing tomorrow?” And he died.
It’s a worthless and very amateur line.
Try with feelings first.
There was a burst, not like a sound and not like a light but of pain and it tore through his back and left him lifeless on the floor. There on the dirty alley, where children once laughed, Murray died.
A death in two sentences and to me fills the world easily with the right image. No description of guts or organs being destroyed. You don’t really need it. Which leads us to the next important topic . . .
The Lead Up: Plain and simple, it helps if your reader see it coming. People dying out of thin air is just broken writing. A man walking alone, or a man not in the middle of conflict works the best. A lot of times stories have too much stuff going on, with people hunting this guy and that, you lose the power of just slowing things down. So back to Murray . . .
Sun dripped along with the water drops from the brick walls. Each stealing a piece of attention that Murray should have had for his own safety. The walk had already tired him and carrying the two suitcases had already taken a toll on his shoulders, yet he smelled something in the air. I once read that water didn’t have a smell, it was a catalyst for your sense, boosting your sense. So what you are actually doing is smelling something that’s already there. And there, at the end of the alley was Genova. Standing like a gun fighter waiting for the clock to strike and the smell reminded Murray of his father.
You know why girls like bad guys? It’s because if a nice guy brought them roses they feel just like an other girl that he gave roses to – nothing special. But when a douchebag brings a girl a single rose, he is going up and beyond for her, making her feel like the only person in his life that means anything to him – pure fucking special. (My own sexist theory.) Writing is the same way. You got to take it slow, tease the reader with some slow paces so that when you hit something fast, something climatic it feels like . . . they are getting something special.
Tools of Death: Now this is important. One day I want to write a whole post on guns. For now, I’ll settle with some little tidbits. Just remember that you need to research. Research, research and research. Buy a gun, buy a knife. Hold them in your hand, write how they make you feel. Shoot a gun, smell the air, listen to the sound and watch what it does to a target.
Or read these handy little guides online.
Emotional Paint: Everything we try to convey, we paint. We paint with keystrokes. This article is intended for those who need help doing something they haven’t done or something they can’t figure out of to do – paint death. I like to paint with real emotion. I always find it easier to write about feelings when I recently have used them. So I want to tell you a personal story. I have to warn you, animals were killed in it and you may not agree with what I did. So here it goes:
There was a neighbor, there’s always one like this, who had two large boxers that turned into eight over months. They were big, strong and dug holes like trenchers. In a matter of months they had killed two of my neighbor’s dog, my wife’s seven year old lab and three cats of ours. Now, we live outside city limits, so there really is no one to help us with our troubles. We, my wife and I, love animals. We had 9 cats living outside at one time living in that yard, which sits in front of our new property. We used to live there but bought the property across the street and the cats refuse to move. What can I say, it’s their property too.
So one of the cats had kittens, she was the only one that wasn’t fix and since we had lost other cats we thought it would add some sunshine to our yard, after all kittens are incredibly adorable. And they were. I fell in love immediately, and I don’t like cats. I’m a dog guy, but these little furry balls of joy liked me, and would climb on me as I feed the other animals. How could I not love them. At this point, the boxers numbers had thinned. There were now two killers.
Somehow, perhaps determination of these crazed animals, they got in my yard. Littered throughout the yard were many dead kittens and my wife’s oldest cat. Now I don’t condone killing anything, I never in my life even wanted to go hunting with my father and brother. It’s not for me and I’ve always made it clear, yet there I was standing with a flashlight in one hand and trying to balance a rifle in the other, aiming at the two dogs that won’t leave my yard and had just left little shadows of life in my yard; the cat’s yard – our yard.
I killed one. The other wouldn’t leave, just sat close to the dead body perhaps hoping he’d come back to life. I fired, maybe I missed because I saw the look on his face. Or maybe I just didn’t see the point in killing both dogs. I didn’t miss completely, he now walks around with a limp, but I look back at the day and I don’t regret anything. Wait, I do regret something. I regret not killing that other dog.
This one event inspired many of my newest stories. I really think the best way to paint is when you are emotional. Try writing when you’re angry, when you’re sad or, my favorite, when you’re in love.