by Jenny Hilborne
What is your motive? For me, it's all about revenge.
Every day, I plot murder. I fantasize about the evil things I, I mean my characters, would do to their victims if given the chance. I plot how they’ll get away with it, at least for a while. During this process, I noticed a trend, which caused me to examine my own personality.
In real life, I’m not the type to hold a grudge. At least, I don’t think so. However, in my fictional world, almost all my motives seem to revolve around revenge. I gravitate towards it. Quite frankly, I find it the purest and most satisfying kind of motive, both to write and to read. Characters driven by revenge are obsessed and determined, with a single-minded goal. They must settle the score at all costs, and their conduct shocks me the most.
Other motives seem weaker in comparison and more difficult to understand, especially in mysteries and thrillers. A villain bent on revenge is exciting to follow; his target, or someone close to that target has already hurt him, and we want to know how he’ll retaliate. Is the punishment deserved? Unless the villain is entirely bad, with no redeeming qualities, I’d say quite often it is. I love a villain who provokes empathy in me as a reader. This compassion adds to the drama and conflict going on inside me as I read. It raises questions in my mind about fairness, and righteousness, the validity of his actions, and how he should be handled when he’s caught.
Other popular motives for pre-meditated murder include jealousy, robbery, and crimes of passion. More unusual motives might include boredom, or for fun (thrill kills). With these types of plotlines, I find I have less empathy for the villain and more for the victim, which seems more conventional, and; therefore, the stories don’t move me as much. The unconventional is more interesting and more troubling because deviant behaviour defies societal norms. It makes us question our own character. Is it normal to side with the villain? What would we do under the same circumstances?
Which motive do you find the strongest and the most satisfying, and what does our choice reveal about our own personality?