Monday, August 24, 2009're it.

I watched as she climbed out of the yellow cab into the rain, the same way she did every morning at three a.m. after her shift ended at O'Malley's pub thirteen blocks away, all legs and stillettos. I'd been watching her for weeks. She was tall, unusually so for a woman, almost six feet, with auburn hair and doe eyes. Pity that, I prefer green, but an artist must make do from time to time.

I fell into step behind the cocktail waitress, several feet away, keeping time with the sway of her hips. She seemed to sense something wrong and walked faster, until her fear forced her to run. She tripped on her pointed heels and fell to the ground, screaming. She looked at me as if to say why, when I reached for her with the knife... "AND CUT" the director said, "Who wants to be it this time?"

Murder and mayhem are a special kind of horror. The tension and terror reads best when built early on and can be just as effective in my opinion from the killers pov as the victim. But how do you choose the victim? Is he or she a paper character whose only scene is death? Or do you give her a history so that you endear her to the reader? Why do you choose them? And what if you choose wrong?

That's happened to me before. In Blood Shield, the first draft, Special Agent Gabriel Spiller (FBI) was a throwaway character, a would have been lover of Jack's late wife Serena. In the big raid on Niccolo Gueraldi's fortress estate, the two killed each other. Spiller while trying to save Jack's new love, Liv, pushed her aside and the kingpin's bullet killed him. Later, I decided I really liked the guy, in a love/hate way and decided to bring him back from the dead and kill off his less wise, younger partner instead. Spiller gets his own story with To Take Up The Sword and a new love. So... choose your 'victims' wisely.


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