The Motive For Murder

Sunday, March 03, 2013

via pinterest

When writing my book, one of my biggest problems is finding a movite for murder. It's easy to think up bad things for vilains to do, but the why? Not as much. 
But the motive is not something you can sort of "skip over". It is as important to the plot as the climax is, because without it, the climax looks pretty weak and rather pointless. 
In Psithurism, there isn't exactly just one villain. It's more like a villain and his gang, which will include a certain someone at one point who ends up seperating from them at another. (Don't worry, you weren't supposed to understand that very well. It's called not-giving-away-my-plot, or you'll-have-to-read-the-book. But more on that in another post...) Point being that I have more than one "motive for murder" to mess with. Marvelous, isn't it?

Gradually, I've come up with a list of key motives, and a some ways other motives might branch of from them. This isn't to say that these are the only major motives for crime out there, but rather that I tried to cover as much as I can here, and could you please fill me in where I missed spots?

Yep, this is probably the biggest, or the most common. One of the reasons for it being so overused is because it's incredibly diverse. Instead of the cut-and-dry "you hurt me, so I'll hurt you" it can go many different directions. A little bit of this is in my main villain, but twisted around a bit. He wants revenge on the world for giving him such a broken life. 

Money is pretty important. Without it, we couldn't eat, sleep comfortably, be protected from weather, etc. So naturally, those poor villains without these wonderful blessings will go after them, tooth and nail. Whatever stands in their way will we tossed to the wind. Like revenge, this has a lot of different aspects. A villain usually only wants money for himself, but it could be for a multitude of reasons, such as being blackmailed himself, wanting to overtake a land (which is a whole new motive of it's own - revenge, perhaps? ;D) or appeasing authorities (once more, this has multiple motives beneath it). Money is not usually a motive of its own in these circumstances, as I've come to realize, unless the crime is committed solely for possesions and wealth. Also, this is the key motive for Psithurism's villain. Just thought you might like to know. :)

This, similar to money, cannot stand on its own. If your villain is doing something unlawfully because of blackmail, you've probably unearthed another villain, a greater one. But it does beg the delicious question, why is your villain being blackmailed? That, my friends, is fun stuff. :)

Perhaps I was a bit too polite in titling this one. I mean that your villain might just be crazy. But I wouldn't reccomend it. You see, not only are mad villians a handful to look out for (they have a way of doing ridiculous things without purpose) but they are also a tad too...simple. A villain who is a bit mad can be quite interesting to read/write about, but an all-mad villain is too easy, for me at least. I feel like blaming all that sin/death/heartache/etc on madness just isn't too inventive.

This one is great for all those female villains you have in your head. Jealousy can lead to a lot of things, and can get rather interesting. But it takes time for the the jealousy to grow to ugly heights. Make sure that it makes a visible climb, not a jump from "aw, I wish I had that" to "kill him/her!" Because honestly, when was the last time you saw this happen in real life? Mhm, remember that when you're tempted to jump from C to Z. 

I'm hoping this post will be somewhat helpful to you all as you are writing, though it was mainly for me to get my jumbled thoughts on the matter onto, screen that is. Villains can be tricky creatures, but also marvelous fun when you get to know them. 

Do you have anything to add? 

"The man stumbles back like my previous opponent. But instead of holding himself steady this man falls, backside first, into the mud and grime at our feet. Sick of the sight of dying men, I race away from the spot before I can see more. Before his sickly white face looks up at me desperately." -P S I T H U R I S M


  1. Love this post :)

    As a connoisseur of murder mysteries, money is the most common motive. Blackmail is second on the list. Then insanity and jealousy are tied for third and revenge is the least common for a villain to commit (it's more of a hero thing) but def the most romantic.

    Love ya,

    p.s. read that quote from Psithurism just the other day...odd thing to be excited about? Perhaps but I am (odd and excited).

  2. wow, Bree! I was *just* thinking about how to make my villain more realistic! I have trouble creating a villain that is unpredictable and believable, without being... oh, how shall we say it, melodramatic. funny, considering the host of villains in reality to learn from.

    I would add pain to my list. villains are unhappy people. they may be happy in a selfish, insane or empty way, but they're not genuinely happy and fulfilled. maybe the reason they're hurting everyone else is because they're hurting and it hurts more to see other people not hurting. a hero is willing to be hurt, or die, for others, but a villain is too afraid to let themselves get hurt again. (fear could be another great motive if you dig into it deeply)

    anyway, enough of my jumbled thoughts. thanks, Bree!


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