In my last post, I began discussing victim profiling and how to create a more believable victim. Today I’ll wrap it up. I’m taking my information from Sean Mactire’s book, Malicious Intent: A Writer’s Guide to How Murderers, Robbers, Rapists, and Other Criminal Think.
6. Educational background. Is the victim from an ivy-league school, or a high-school drop-out? Have a doctorate or a GED? Studied underwater basket-weaving or existential philosophies of ancient Greece? The course studies could have nothing to do with the crime. Maybe it’s the location. Serial rapists hunt on college campuses. They may be students, or they may be known to their victims.
7. Sexual history and preferences. I should keep my comments to myself here. Come up with your own twist on this one. Keep in mind that “mission” killers are on a mission to rid the world of certain peoples. Prostitutes, AIDS patients, and homosexuals are often targets.
8. Personality traits. A woman who’s an introverted dreamer is a much different victim than one who’s an extroverted hedonist. This type of information can help identify suspects, if used properly. It also makes the victim much more human for the reader, not just a statistic or a dead body.
9. Life-style information
- Drug and alcohol use (or lack thereof)
- Sports interests
- Residences for past five years
- Incidences involving civil and/or criminal courts
I read an interest book over the weekend where all the victims, who were seemingly unrelated (different age brackets, educational levels, socio-economic backgrounds, races, etc.) all had an interest in psychic phenomenon. If the investigator hadn’t researched the vics hobbies, he might have never found the connection between the women. Finding that connection helped him identify the killer and the killer’s motive.
You could use the same idea in your novel: all your victims grew up in the same neighborhood, or they all play baseball for city leagues, or they all buy their medical marijuana from the same dealer. By adding this extra layer of profiling to your novel, you create a richer, more complex puzzle for the reader to ponder. Plus, it’s so much fun to write that scene where the investigator finally gets all of it together and realizes what he’s got.
Have fun profiling your victim, then use it to plant clues, suggest motive, and provide insights into useful, maybe even incorrect, suspects.