Murder One: A Writer’s Guide to Homicide

I had so much fun with the last Whodunit Series, I thought I’d jump into another one. This one is geared specifically for murder mystery writers, but I imagine there will be some information upcoming that’s useful in other genres. I’m basing my next umpteen blog posts on the book Murder one: A Writer’s Guide to Homicide by Mauro V. Corvasce and Joseph R.Paglino. Of course, I can’t give away all the great stuff from the book. If you need to know it all, please purchase the book. It’s worth the investment.

The book begins with a definition of murder. More specifically, it offers the definition of five different types of murder. Here they are, copied word for word (their quotes are from the New Jersey State Law Code of Criminal Justice):

1. Criminal Homicide: A person is guilty of criminal homicide “if he purposely, knowingly, recklessly…causes the death of another human being. Criminal homicide is murder, manslaughter, or death by auto.”

2. Death by Auto or Vessel: “[occurs when death] is caused by driving a vehicle or vessel recklessly.”

3. Manslaughter: “[occurs when the] actor recklessly causes death under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to human life.”

4. Murder: “[occurs when the ] actor purposely [or knowingly] causes death or serious bodily injury resulting in death.”

5. Self-Defense: “[is] the use of force upon or toward another…when the actor reasonably believes that such force is immediately necessary for the purpose of protecting himself against the use of unlawful force by such other person on the present occasion.”

These are helpful terms for a mystery writer to know and use properly. Used incorrectly, astute readers will wonder how the author made such a simple mistake. And once you know which term applies to what has happened in your novel, then you can formulate an investigation properly. I’ll dig deeper into the investigation in my next post, so stay tuned.

-Sonja

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