Friday, December 30, 2016

Assignment: Murder

As any one knows when you begin a book, any book, you have to consider everything that happens in the book--even if it is fantasy--if the things that happen are plausible.

In a murder mystery you've gotta go the extra mile. It's pretty much why I avoided writing mysteries, even though those are my favorite books (along with John Grisham, I enjoy Sue Grrafton, Tami Hoag, and a few others--including the "Murder She Wrote" books by Donald Bain), to read. And it's why I put a mystery in every book I've ever written.

Here are my notes from 9-4-16 on my thoughts on how to have a person appear to have hung himself (suicide). But it's really murder.

Oh, and if you intend on reading the second novel this is a spoiler alert.

...I was having trouble with how the man would be hung in his office. I mean where could the rope (or whatever used) would be hung from? It has to be solid [enough to hold a man's weight]

Side note: {Changed to a bathroom]

Then I thought about a woman who hung herself in the women's john from the frame over the door. 
So, I may have to rewrite this. {which I did]

inside women's john, see upright cross section
sorry this is a poor picture
Above is picture of the very stall in which a  woman hung herself (true story, happened over a year ago) at NIU student center. I learned about it through a friend who is a janitor there. I was actually in the bathroom when this woman was setting up to do herself in. I saw she had a chair in there, and unfortunately I was in a hurry to get back down to my bus to keep it on time, so I didn't think too much about it, just thought it weird she had a chair in there.

Back to Notes:
So, okay, I've named this character Blake [I've named him Ellwood Blake], who walks into the men's lavatory & finds this teacher hung himself ... {here I've had him take a picture, but later on I decide he is recording himself on his cell phone working on a novel he's writing for a class, and he takes a whole video of the body bottom to top, which Lainey later views and comes to the conclusion he didn't commit suicide}

My notes continue from here, but I've changed everything, so I won't include them here. 

However, I've taken pictures of various parts of the Student Center, if only to help me create--in my head--how this small college would look like inside, and certain Modus operandi as well.

Above is a hallway with a number of doors, it's a moderately long hallway and turns right at the end and continues.

Here is a small classroom.

Obviously, this bathroom had to be off in a remote part of the college. I put it down in a subbasement where no one ever goes, except maybe the janitor on occasion. Beyond the hallway are the locker rooms for sports teams.

By the way, the murders all happen off the page. My murder mysteries are "cozy" type where the more grisly or ghastly scenes are kept off screen, as it were. It's a YA type of book, and I wanted that any age could read it.

To continue with the murder:

Background: The teacher's wife,Carol Taylor, was in charge of the bursar's office (of small college), and finds that funds are way low from what she knew them to be when a large check has bounced. She is fired by the president, Mr. Smith, claiming she was the one embezzling. Her husband is Chad Taylor, English teacher, teaches creative writing class in which Lainey Quilholt is student.

The next day, after Carol's dismissal, Smith goes to the Taylor's home, hoping to get them together, but unfortunately only the wife is there. He gains entry, smoothly saying he's thought things over and wants to apologize. But when she's let him in under these pretenses, he shoots her--but not after learning that Mr. Taylor has gone to the school early. Thus he has to figure out how to kill him. But he can't use a gun. It would make too much noise, and to make it look like suicide, he'd have to shoot him in the head. No. he figures out a different way.

Luring Mr.Taylor away from his office to come and talk to him in his office gets him into the elevator. Cleverly, he's got the cart (below) inside the elevator, ready. He'd make some excuse like "Janitor must have left it here." He somehow gets behind Mr. Taylor and strangles him with a bit of cord. (I have not figured out where this has come from as yet.)

Once Taylor has been snuffed out, he angles his body onto this cart, presses G for Ground Floor, and rolls the man's body to the men's john, and hangs him up in the stall to make it look like suicide.

Mr. Smith is a very obese man, but is able to carry this murder out easily enough, I think. 

I've gotten past page 50, and the two murders--at this point it's considered a murder/suicide by police--have been discovered, using the whole embezzling thing is motive behind Mr Taylor killing his wife, and hanging himself. But Lainey will find clues, pester Sheriff John Weeks (who has since first book has married her aunt), to look further into this, especially since a number of anomalies and discrepancies have surfaced. Lainey will already know who has murdered them, but has to figure out why, and how he got away with it, and then trap him into confessing.

How far do you go to figure out the legitimacy of the things you write? Or how, physically, they could be done? Do you find places, things, objects and take pictures to help you create your story?


  1. I find it helps to talk to medical personnel when you have questions about trauma to a body, so I've done it myself.

    1. Nice to have access to people who are in that area. I don't even go to a doctor on a regular bases.

  2. I've never understood why anyone takes their own life. As long as there's life, there's hope. But maybe things have never been as bad for me as I thought.

  3. I don't understand it either. But I've been depressed up to a point of not wanting to go on, but not to the point of taking my own life.


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