Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Revenge, Writers' Style

By Annette Dashofy

People often think that the combination of my evening job as yoga instructor and my day job as writer of murder mysteries is incompatible. I’ve come to the conclusion that the two are the perfect balancing act. I can use my writing to express all my pent up hostility so I can be calm and stress-free for my yoga class.

Just because I teach yoga doesn’t mean life is all harmonious bliss. I get thoroughly annoyed with people just like everyone else. I can sit and meditate and think wonderful thoughts, but at some point in the day, I’m going to remember and get miffed all over again. I know I should let it go and sometimes I do. But when certain people pull the same (excuse me) crap over and over, it’s hard to continually smile and forget about it.

Which is where writing murder mysteries comes in handy. When someone annoys me one too many times, I simply kill them.

FICTIONALLY, of course.

I base a character on the offending so-and-so and snuff them out. Or make him the villain who gets his comeuppance in the end. Either way, I feel vindicated.

And it’s not important that the person KNOWS that they are the inspiration for that doomed character. Truthfully, I prefer they DON’T know. For legal reasons and such. It doesn’t matter. It becomes an inside, private joke that only I get. So the next time that person irritates me, I can just smile and think: Heh heh. You’re toast.

Of course, to avoid those legal issues, it’s important to make the character unrecognizable to the real person. Someone once told me that if you have a male character, give him a small penis and no living, breathing man will claim that he was based on him.

Recently, I’ve encountered someone who manages to get under my skin on a regular basis. (Relax, it’s no one here.) Nothing I do or say helps the situation. So it occurred to me that it may be time to write this person out of my life. On paper, at least. I haven’t decided what kind of character this person will become or how I will dispose of them. But it will be good. And I will feel that justice has been served. It’s kind of a written version of a voodoo doll. Except that I don’t necessarily want anything truly bad to happen. I’m just too much of a wimp to physically slap the person silly.

And besides, as a yoga instructor, I’m supposed to practice non-violence.

So how about the rest of you? As a writer, have you ever killed off someone in print just for your own personal revenge? Or as a reader, have you ever visualized a character in a book as someone you actually know just to see them get the punishment they deserve?


Tory said...

Once a friend of mine was talking about her ex-husband, and I suggested I could write him in as a character in a book and kill him off.

She looked at me oddly and changed the subject. I guess I have to recognize that mystery writers' minds are different from other people's.

Martha Reed said...

Annette, yes, guilty as charged. I had a boss years ago who was such an ignorant bully it was making me crazy just to go to work. So ... (evil grin here) ... I used the anger I felt and turned him into a villain and wrote a book around it. Revenge, however, is a dish best served cold, so on my final rewrite I wrote him completely out of the book - there is one tiny mention of a bit of him for my own selfish pleasure, but other than that he is gone.

Hey, anger is a tool to be used, right?

Annette said...

Tory, I think it's wonderful therapy. I carried around a lot of anger and bitterness toward a former friend who had screwed me over royally. After I turned him into a charming, back-stabbing villian who got killed in the end of a story, I was able to let go of all that anger. Now, if I see him on the street, I can smile smuggly, knowing that I GOT HIM even if he doesn't know a thing abut it.

Of course, knowing that this guy also spend some time in a very real prison recently helps, too.

Gina said...

I haven't actually used anyone in a book, yet. I guess that some of the things that happen to people on my books I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. I do occasionally take comfort in the fact that I can wish a person dead and know that it will come to pass -- it may take 50 or 60 years but, sure enough, they'll die. Yikes. Maybe it would be better to just off them in a book.

Karen said...

You are so right! I own a B&B. Guests wonderful. Lorianne (yes,real name) wanted to have wedding there, me plan it. I lined up florist, caterer, menu, cake, minister. Many hours on phone & email with Lorianne & others. Oddly, she wouldn't send deposits! Two weeks prior to wedding day she canceled, moved venue elsewhere. Payback - somewhere in my files there's a story about a heedless alcoholic named Lorianne who's murdered by a fed-up client. Hahaha! Felt much better.