How to Write a Serial Killer

Bloody_Hammer_by_skeatsFirst off, Happy Halloween!

To be clear, this is a blog on how to write serial killer characters in a book. If you are looking for something else, we apologize for the confusion.

In honor of Halloween, we at Pypeline Editing are dishing up some tips on how to write a meaty serial killer in your book. You want people to be terrified, petrified, mummified (OK, we added that last one for giggles). So, how do you accomplish this writing task for yourself and your readers? With a little help from your favorite local editors, of course. Now, let’s get to the list:

  1. Backstory: Do you want him to be a sympathetic villain? Then stretch those writing muscles and give him a tragic backstory. Mom beat him. Daddy left her. Do your damage. Make it as detailed as you wish so readers are torn between hating the killer’s actions but simultaneously feeling sympathy for the killer.
  2. …Or, Be Mysterious: Is the killer an enigma instead? Is the backstory so shrouded in mystery even you don’t know what is wrong with him or her? Awesome, but be sure to keep it consistent throughout. Don’t add elements toward the end or in a sequel because you found yourself in a corner. Everything should be done intentionally in your writing.
  3. Give It a Trademark: Does this killer carry a sledgehammer? Or, does he or she kill people using only toenails? Either way, adding a little trademark like that can make your character memorable. Do you remember how Jason killed? How about Freddy? Of course you do, because their killing styles are memorably gruesome. So make your deaths gruesome too!

We hope you write responsibly, don’t write at night, at home by yourself. We don’t want you having nightmares.

Also, these tips are for literary purposes only. Real serial killers need not apply.

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      I am very pleased with the work you've done on my book.  Your suggestions and corrections were spot-on and you took my lumps of words and smoothed them out in to a what now reads as a polished and certainly more fluid piece. I wish you and Pypeline much success and do see a busy future for the two of you. I am working on other projects and will no doubt call on you again for help.  ”
Joseph L. Cacibauda
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