How to Fight Write

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Anonymous asked: What would be the best way to capture someone who is a skilled, experienced fighter with a very high pain tolerance?

A tazer. It doesn’t matter how badass your character thinks they are, when your nervous system is shorted out by an electrical current, you cannot fight.

After that, anything you can use to cripple them quickly, like a crowbar or sledgehammer to the knee will work.

Pointing a gun at their head along with with ten or twenty of your buddies and giving them a choice between becoming the new flavor of chunky salsa sweetmeat or coming quietly is probably your best bet.

If that fails, numbers will end your lone experienced fighter. It doesn’t matter if you’re Jack Bauer or Chuck Norris, you cannot fight a crowd. Combat experience and training can give you the tools to briefly juggle a few people, effectively, but the key word there is, “briefly.”

It doesn’t matter how awesome or badass you think your character is, they can’t take a crowd and win.

Pain tolerance only keeps them going when they’ve suffered an injury that doesn’t actually impair their ability to fight. But, when you’re receiving injuries that are going to make fighting impossible, like breaking an arm, for example, the pain isn’t actually important. You can’t use that arm, no matter how strong your will to fight is.

You can’t make a character superhuman without actually saying, “screw this, I’m giving them superpowers.” The way you take out a lone combatant is basically going to be the same. Overwhelm them.

-Starke

Filed under fighting groups individual versus group fightwrite answers Starke answers

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Anonymous asked: If a student is learning how fight from their parent(s), how might that affect their relationship?

The biggest problem with parents teaching their children is unrealistic expectations. They care about them more than they should, so they either push too hard (expect too much) because they believe they know them or they go too soft (can’t stomach it). A parent has a greater emotional investment in their offspring than they do a random student who leaves and goes home at the end of the day. They are with them all the time which makes it harder to set boundaries on when training ends and becomes easy for them to slip into “Master” mode as a constant.

It’s the stage parent problem and, for the child, there is no escape.

I’ll make a list:

1) Do my parents love me for me or do they love my skills?

For a child, doing well in their parent’s chosen martial art under their parent’s guidance can double up for positive reinforcement. Doing well makes their parent happy, they receive adulation, love, and affection. The parent feels good because not only are they receiving adulation from all the martial artists around them for having such a talented student, but they’re also receiving praise from the parents of the other children they teach. “Wow, look how well your kid is doing, you must be a great parent and teacher! I can trust my kid to you!” Whether it’s intentional or not, the child may accidentally become bound up in their parent’s own sense of pride, their self-worth, and (possibly) their business.

But, what if their kid wants to quit? It’s natural as we expand our horizons to want to find other dreams for ourselves. For some kids, being a martial artist or combatant like their parent may be all they’ve ever wanted to do. If the kid decides this isn’t the life they want then there’s a lot more at stake for them then just disappointing a mentor, even if that mentor is like a parent. (A martial artist who raises a child in isolation of their family is practically their parent, if they raise them from an infant regardless of blood relation they are their parent.) They aren’t just hurting the feelings of someone they respect, they’re disappointing their parent. If the only love and positive reinforcement they’ve received has been for their martial arts, then there may be some anxiety over whether or not their mom or dad will still love them.

Saying, “Hey Mom, now that I’m in High School, I don’t want to wake up at 5 every morning for extra practice before school. I want to try playing guitar instead.” Or “Hey Dad, I know we’ve been talking about entering me in X tournament on the stepping stones to the Olympics but maybe I could do Soccer instead?”

The structural familial support isn’t there for them, especially if they’re from a one parent home or both their parents are invested in their training. Eventually, the time will come when the child will have to choose their path for themselves. How would you feel if the choice you were making might alienate or harm your bond with one or both of your parents?

2) My parents have two separate visions for my training (or worse want me to choose between their two different martial arts). Help?

Even two parents who get along in the best of times (and maybe enjoy a bit of friendly rivalry) can cross the line when it comes to their offspring. A child is a legacy, but whose legacy do they choose? In the early stages, they can’t do both. It’ll hurt their training and send mixed/conflicting messages to their body. It’s best to learn one and then the other, but which one?

Either way, one parent is going to get hurt. In a relationship that’s already dysfunctional, it’s all too easy for it to become a game of “Who Do You Love Best?” with one winner and one loser. It can damage the child’s relationship with both their parents and make one feel inferior to other. It doesn’t even have to be two separate martial arts, it can just be two different training methodologies. If the parents have a conflict, their child is now more likely to be drawn into their fighting (physical or otherwise). If there’s two children, then they may play favorites between them and alienate their kids from each other.

4) My parent(s) almost made it to the top, but were denied the championship. They think I’m way more talented than them. They’re sure I’ll make it where they failed. I don’t know if I can, but I don’t want to disappoint them. I’m really stressed. What should I do?

The curse of the talented legacy with a disappointed parent. Whether they mean to or not, they may attempt to turn their child into a “Mini-Me”. The one who will vicariously achieve all their failed dreams. “You have too much talent to waste it”. This is one of the worst combinations for a kid because their parent doesn’t just have their emotions wrapped up in their training, they have all their goals, dreams, and ambitions in there too. Having a child with talent just makes the dream stronger because “you will do all the things I never could”. However, wants are not a question. Their kid is just like them and they have so much talent, why would they want to waste it chasing other dreams that don’t matter?

5) My Dad/Mom is one of the best in the sport. They want me to be just like them, but know I’ll never measure up. I try as hard as I can, but they’re just so amazing. I have half their genes, why can’t I do it too?

This one is even worse when they come into the world ahead of or behind a more talented sibling that their parent(s) puts all their effort into. They want to be good at martial arts because that’s what their parent values and if their parent values skill then they will value them. This is a kid who comes from a very competitive environment with a parent who devotes a great deal of time to a single thing. They love their parent and they want to emulate them, but they feel their parent will never respect them if they don’t defeat them.

6) My Dad/Mom always calls on me in class to demonstrate, the other kids think I’m the teacher’s pet. I might as well be since I’m the teacher’s kid. I’ve told my Dad/Mom that I don’t want to demonstrate anymore but he/she says my technique is the best in the class. The other kids could learn a lot from me. Maybe, but I’d rather be anonymous.

If you’ve ever been the teacher’s pet think about how much all the other kids hated you, if you’ve never been the teacher’s pet think about how much all the other kids (or maybe you) hated that one kid who had all the answers and just kept getting called on. Now, think about what it would have been like if that teacher was your Mom or Dad and they’re calling on you because they know that you know the answer. This sort of treatment builds resentment in the other kids, especially if it’s a repeat offender.

If the kid isn’t working as hard as their parent thinks they should, they may get called out more often. It becomes more difficult for them to do anything right even when their awesome. Always work hard, never slack off, no breaks allowed. To the kid, their peers have it easy because they’re graded on a different scale. For their peers, the kid constantly gets the teacher’s special attention which cuts into their learning time.

The other kids get frustrated because they never get the chance to show off. It feels unfair because the teacher’s kid is so good or isn’t that great but gets picked because they’re the teacher’s kid. Whether the kid is mediocre or best in the class, it doesn’t really matter. If their parent finds another kid who does it better and invests in them then it may hurt their kid’s sense of self. Any which way you look, it’s a no win situation for anyone involved.

Granted, a bunch of these can happen when the child isn’t their parent’s student but we’re going with the basics. While all of these can create an extraordinary martial artist, it has the chance of combusting spectacularly.

TLDR:

1) No choice in joining

2) No choice to opt out

3) Your peers all hate you or suck up to you because of your position (standing)

4) You’re graded on a different curve from your peers and don’t have the option to slack off

5) Your parent always knows when you’re slacking off and may punish you even when you’re miles ahead of your peers

6) Even if you’re successful, you’re always disappointing someone

7) It’s very easy for the parent to lose perspective and it becomes all about what they want and not what their kid wants

It’s a very lonely place to be and an incredibly unfair position to put any child in. It’s not just martial arts either, it’s any specialized field. This doesn’t mean the parent needs to be separated from their child’s training forever. They can train together after their kid has established a base, developed a love of their craft separate from their parent, and secured their sense of self. That way the training can just be about the training and not their parent entirely informing every aspect of this skill which will become part of them.

I hope that made sense!

-Michi

Filed under writing reference writing relationships character development fightwrite answers michi answers parent teacher student child

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Anonymous asked: Okay, so this probably sounds like a really silly question, but I have to ask. Why do assassins get close to their target before killing them? Isn't it more efficient to kill their target immediately?

Depends. Okay, so there’s actually 3 different possible meanings of “getting close to their target,” and I’ll hit them in turn.

If you just mean physical proximity, then, they usually don’t. A trained, professional killer isn’t going to want to be anywhere near the victim when they’re dropped unless it’s absolutely necessary.

If the target can be dropped with a high-powered rifle six blocks away, that’s a much safer option than going in with a garotte. No matter what popular fiction, like The Professional or the Hitman games will tell you. (To be fair, The Professional is a fantastic film, but as with most of Luc Besson’s work it’s not terribly realistic.)

Getting physically close to the victim is about making a statement. The assassin is declaring they’re untouchable, or trying to tell the world, “hey, I did this thing!”

It’s not a silly question. A great deal of modern spy fiction and most of the action adventure genre dealing with professional assassins prime the audience to view them in a way that is inherently unrealistic. This also involves burdening them with approaches to their kills that are unsustainable without the aid of authorial fiat. The general emphasis ends up being on the assassin killing, not on all the other aspects of the job needed in order for them to be successful. This approach generally relies on negating or outright ignoring the police and the protectee’s security service in order to present the idea of “badass superkiller1!1!!!!!!1”. If your primary view of assassins is as the Anime Ninja, or the action adventure heroes from R.E.D., or even the Hitman games where an assassin is just the new code word for “human killing machine” then I can see where it might be confusing.

If the kind of assassin you’re planning on writing fits into the categories above then you can feel free to ignore this post.

In a world that takes into account all the people out there (including law enforcement) willing and able to get between an assassin and their target, the game of cat and mouse an assassin has to play in avoiding the local authorities, and finding an opening to take a shot at an important person who may have upwards of twenty bodyguards watching their every move then the prospect of actually murdering them (much less getting away afterwards) becomes much tougher.

Besides what some video games and books might tell you, walking into a house and murdering everyone inside is the sort of action which makes everything worse. It doesn’t make it better and it’s not even viable in the short run. Bodyguards don’t line up in a shooting gallery, instead they’ll do their job. Taking the time to deal with them (and it does take time) will end with the assassin missing their window of opportunity as the rest of the security detail gets their boss to safety. Once the window of opportunity is gone, the mission is over. Your assassin has one chance to dance, if they blow it then it’s over. The more people the assassin fights on the way to their target, the higher the likelihood the assassin will get made. If the assassin gets made then there’s a good chance they’ll either end up on the law enforcement radar (lucky) or a criminal organization’s (incredibly unlucky). Either way even if they do escape, they’ll spend the rest of their life running.

This is why you get “close” to your target.

Getting Physically Close: Hallmark of the Political Assassin

The guy who walks up to the President and puts three bullets in his/her chest only to get tackled by some very angry members of the Secret Service is a person who wants to get caught. This is the standard conventional assassin and the one we understand best because there have been so many of them. They do it because they want to make a political statement, their imprisonment or death will lead to them becoming a martyr. In the grand scheme, there’s no difference between John Wilkes Booth’s assassination of President Lincoln and an al-Qaeda suicide bomber. Both acts are politically motivated and both are types of assassinations meant to draw attention to their cause (whatever cause that is). Getting physically close to the victim is about making a statement. The assassin is declaring they’re untouchable, or trying to tell the world, “hey, I did this thing!”

It’s worth remembering that President Obama gets 30 death threats a day, that’s 210 a week, and somewhere around 900 a month. All those threats must be investigated by the Secret Service. The more powerful a person is, the more enemies they accumulate, and the more people there are who want them dead. This counters all the people surrounding them whose job it is to keep them alive. The act of killing is the simple and easy part, it’s everything leading up to it that’s difficult.

Preparation is Key

A trained, professional killer isn’t going to want to be anywhere near the victim when they’re dropped unless it’s absolutely necessary. If they can manage it with a high powered rifle on a rooftop six blocks away then they will. It’s cleaner, easier, and safer that way. Still, being in the right place at the right time involves knowing their target, their habits, their security plan, and where the holes are to find the opportunity necessary to take the shot. They also have to scout the environment ahead of time, locate a place to prepare their setup with an understanding that their target’s security will be looking for exactly that. You might think sitting up on rooftop with a rifle waiting to take a shot would be easy, but it’s not and, unlike in most movies, there’s no one who will do the work for them.

Your character will not automatically know where to go or what to do. The more they know about their target the better they can predict their movements, the better they can predict their movements, the more options they have if or, really, when things go wrong. An assassin must always be one step ahead of their target and they can’t stay ahead of them if they don’t know them.

Preparation is the key to success.

Is it really more efficient?

There’s a choice every character must make for themselves: do I want to kill the once or do I want to kill multiple times? If you decided to become an assassin tomorrow then you’d probably follow the protocols that media has prepared for you as do most would be assassins. It’s what gets them caught. “What would I do if I were an assassin?” is a great opener for crafting a newbie.

Ignoring law enforcement agencies and desire for retribution on the part of the surrounding individuals who might not be too happy that their friend, loved one, hero, or source of paycheck just got offed is a mistake and it’s an easy one to make.

Take some time and investigate the other side of the equation. Watch some Law and Order. Then think about it from the perspective of all the people who are going to investigate and hunt your assassin down. Collateral and Lucky Number Slevin are great movies to watch on this account because they’re all about the shell game involved in an assassin covering their tracks or getting close to their target. In Collateral, the assassin (Tom Cruise) pays cab driver (Jamie Foxx) to drive him around the city as he performs his hits. While the assassin’s behavior toward the cab driver is friendly and amiable, we learn from the cops investigating the initial murders about a cab driver who went nuts and killed a whole bunch of random people in one night before committing suicide. I’ll give you three guesses for who really killed those people.

The goal is going to be get in, get out, without anyone the wiser. Often leaving a fall guy to take the blame (like the cab driver) or covering the killings by using another rational explanation. The first season of Elementary for example involved two assassins who covered their tracks in different ways. The first one murdered people in the exact same way every single time in order to make it look like a serial killer doing the deed, some of the people he killed on his spree were his targets but others were just random innocents who fit the profile. He only popped up every few years and each time in different places. Because the cops were looking for a serial killer and not an assassin, they missed the key motivations necessary for uncovering his identity. Thus, the assassin was able to continue his business while the cops chased their tails looking for a pattern that wasn’t there.

The second assassin covered his kills by using conveniently timed accidents to do the deed. He pushed an air conditioner off a three story building onto a passing man below (freak accident), cultivated a colony of particularly nasty bees along the workout route of a woman who had a deadly allergy (natural death), and murdered a man by disrupting the signal to his pacemaker and giving him a heart attack (hardware failure). If you look at all these victims as individuals and not at their relationships to each other then each appears to be a random accident. In that case, there’s no need to investigate further. (It’s always worth remembering that most law enforcement agencies are buried in cases that cross their desk. Homicide is a great look into the life of a homicide detective and the world of unsolved cases.)

Of the three, Collateral is the most realistic which is why I recommend watching it once and then with the commentary turned on. It’s very helpful.

Recommended Reading/Viewing:

For Your Assassins:

Ronin, I know we’ve plugged this one a bunch lately. It’s not a fantastic film, but it is a fantastic thing to watch to get a look at operational preparation. That is to say, the things your assassin needs to do in order to get access to and kill their target.

Collateral is a pretty good look at both assassin and general criminal psychology. Again, we’ve plugged enough lately you should be familiar with it.

Lucky Number Slevin is a bit off-beat, but the entire film sets up a shell game to hide what’s actually going on. It’s a decent example of someone getting close to the target without blowing their cover.

Hitman: Blood Money is a murder playground. This is one of the very rare times I’ll actually recommend a video game for anything. There’s some seriously puerile elements, but it does basically leave the player with free reign to deal with the environment as they see fit. If you’re wanting to see why someone might try to pass themselves off as a member of the cleaning staff to get into a facility instead of camping outside with a rifle, this might be a good thing to look at.

For Your Investigators:

Elementary,Technically almost any faithful representation of Sherlock Holmes will work, but if it’s not Elementary then your best bet will probably be the Jeremy Brett series from the 80s and 90s. Also, if all else fails, and you’ve never read them, you should probably look at the original stories.

Law & Order is an absolute must view, probably in binges, for getting a feel for your cops. The show is slathered in it’s New York City identity, but a lot of it carries over elsewhere. In my opinion, the series really gets going in the third season, but feel free to look at some of the other seasons for a different mix of Police and members of the DA’s Office. Southland is a decent primer to update you to the current climate.

Homicide: Life on the Street is the unpleasant cousin of Law & Order. Again, you’re looking at street level detective work in the mid-90s. But the show is focused more on the psychological strain of the job, as opposed to the procedural techniques. These shows should really be watched together as two sides of the same coin. I’m told The Wire is the decent update to 20 years later, but I’ve never gotten around to it.

Not So Helpful, But Good Movies Anyway:

The Professional is like most most Luc Besson films, not terribly realistic, but it entertaining and quite good. Jean Reno’s character is, unfortunately, a major part of the modern myth of a professional assassin.

Red, this is actually an adaptation of a comic by Warren Ellis. Keep an eye on Helen Mirren and Karl Urban, they’re good references, and their characters don’t really exist in the comic. Especially the way Urban’s character preps and cleans crime scenes.

-Michi

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whiskeyii asked: I've been curious about this for a while: how do you train to not freeze up when you're attacked? It seems like a lot of novels conveniently gloss over the "I got stuck between flight and fight mode" thing, but how do you really overcome that? Does preparing for "surprise attacks" in a dojo or something similar really work, or not really, since you're already kind of expecting it?

Most recreational martial arts won’t teach you how to avoid freezing up because they’re not technically teaching you how to fight outside of a controlled environment. This is why coupling recreational martial arts with self-defense training is important because it’s not so much about training your body as it is training your brain. “Professional” martial training i.e. someone who performs a dangerous job for a living where they have to be watchful will receive training in what to look for and practice being ambushed as it’s a problem they’re much more likely to have to deal with.

Even a trained warrior can get stuck between flight or fight mode if they get caught off guard. So, the trick becomes not getting caught off guard. It’s a matter of mental preparation and practice while being out in the real world.

There’s really no way to beat the fight or flight response, or even really retrain it. There is a way to avoid it. We do this by being mentally ready or when faced with a dangerous situation that hasn’t erupted yet (say you’re being threatened by a very large guy, large guy already wants to hurt you but hasn’t acted yet) you have to leapfrog past their mental point on the attack ladder and be willing to go first, even take the initiative.

It’s hard to surprise someone who is expecting to be surprised.

However, you can’t just do this in a safe environment like on the training floor. It has to be out in the real world, learning to look at the world differently, learning to assess threats from people around you. So much so that it becomes habit to simply scan the room or check the dark alleys, to see the guy who is following you, to keep a heavy improvised weapon like a flashlight in the side door of your car just in case.

The most important aspect of training isn’t what it conditions your body to do. In my martial arts training for third degree, we’d circle up and perform “surprise attacks” on a member in the middle. It was only with a set of techniques but you never knew if it was going to come from the front, behind, anywhere. It was merely a test of our body’s ability to react and perform under pressure. (And the sort of test you only give to black belts because they have the physical control to do it.) Would I say it prepared me for “defending myself on the street”? Not really.

Again, it was a test of my ability to physically react to threats within a controlled environment. Did it build my confidence? Sure, but it was with people I knew and trusted. Learning the mindset and tactics used by people who want to hurt me in a self-defense seminar and strategies for dealing with that? Just as valuable, if not infinitely more so on a practical level.

TLDR: the goal is to get into the mental “ready” state before the fight even begins, this is how you beat out “fight or flight” because there’s no reason for it to trigger. If you expect trouble, you won’t be surprised when it happens.

Alternately, also read this post we did On Psychological Shock

-Michi

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shierrart asked: Hello! I am writing about a serial killer in a fantasy setting and he uses a knife/dagger to kill his victims. My question would be, what kind of a knife/dagger would be good for this? His victims don't have weapons on them and are smaller than him if that makes any difference. Thank you!

Any knife or dagger would be good for this. It doesn’t even have to be a “professional” knife or combat oriented weapon. It can be a kitchen knife, a butcher’s cleaver, a meat hook, a surgeon’s scalpel, anything you want really. If he or she is a savvy serial killer then they’re most likely to use a knife that leaves a minimal amount of forensic evidence. However, unless you’re basing your magic and fantasy setting around a modern 21st century understanding of medicine, detective work, criminal profiling, and forensics, it doesn’t really matter. He’ll use whatever is within the range of he has access to and maybe has special meaning (maybe not), perhaps a knife with an interchangeable handle and one that is easy to clean. It really depends on what type of killer he/she is and since I don’t know the character, the setting, or the type of law enforcement in question it’s really difficult to guess. (I say he because most of the serial killers we know of and profiling circles around are male, but historically there have been several prominent female ones.)

While serial killers have probably existed for as long as humans have, our understanding of their psychology (and even the use of the term “serial killer”) really only dates back to the 1960s-1970s before that they were something of a mystery.

I’d actually step back a moment and look at serial killers. I’m going to pull a passage from Whoever Fights Monsters: My Twenty Years Hunting Serial Killers for the FBI by Robert K. Ressler and Tom Shachtman dealing with the profiling of “The Vampire Killer” aka Richard Trenton Chase. Ressler, arguably, coined the term “serial killer” in the mid-70s, and is one of the originators of modern serial crimes investigation.

Here, in the original (and not entirely grammatical) notes written at the time is how I profiled the probable perpetrator of this terrible crime:

"White male, aged 25-27 years; thin, undernourished appearance. Residence will be extremely slovenly and unkempt and evidence of the crime will be found at the residence. History of mental illness, and will have been involved in use of drugs. Will be a loner who does not associate with either males or females, and will probably spend a great deal of time in his own home, where he lives alone. Unemployed. Possibly receives some form of disability money. If residing with anyone, it would be his parents; however, this is unlikely. No prior military record; high school or college dropout. Probably suffering from one or more forms of paranoid psychosis."

Though profiling was still in its infancy we had reviewed enough cases of murder to know that sexual homicide — for that’s the category into which this crime fit, even if there was no evidence of a sex act at the crime scene — is usually perpetrated by males, and is usually a intraracial crime, white against white, or black against black. The greatest number of sexual killers are white males in their twenties and thirties; this simple fact allows us to eliminate whole segments of the population when first trying to determine what sort of person has perpetrated one of these heinous crimes. Since this was a white residential area, I felt even more certain that the slayer was a white male.

Now, I made a guess along a great division line that we in the Behavioral Sciences Unit were beginning to formulate, the distinction between killers who displayed a certain logic in what they had done and whose mental processes were, by ordinary standards, not apparently logical— “organized” versus “disorganized” criminals. Looking at the crime-scene photographs and the police reports, it was apparent to me this was not a crime committed by an “organized” killer who stalked his victims, was methodical in how he went about his crimes, and took care to avoid leaving clues to his own identity.  No, from the appearance of the crime scene, it was obvious to me that we were dealing with a “disorganized killer” , a person who had a full blown or serious mental illness. To become as crazy as the man who ripped up Terry Wallin is not something that happens overnight. It takes eight to ten years to develop the depth of psychosis that would surface in this apparently senseless killing. Paranoid schizophrenia is usually first manifested in the teenage years. Adding ten years to an inception-of-illness age of about fifteen would put the slayer in the mid-twenties age group. I felt that he wouldn’t be much older for two reasons. First, most sexual killers are under the age of thirty-five. Second, if he was older than later twenties, the illness would have been so overwhelming it would already have resulted in a string of bizarre and unsolved homicides. Nothing as wiles as this had been reported nearby, and the absence of other notable homicides was a clue that this was the first killing of this man, that the killer had probably never taken a life before.

Whoever Fights Monsters, Robert K. Ressler and Tom Shachtman, pg 3-4.

Sir Also Appearing In This Book: Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, David Berkowitz (“Son of Sam”), Charles Manson, Edmund Kemper, Peter Sutcliffe (“The Yorkshire Ripper”), Richard Speck, and Jefferey Dahmer. If you’re planning to write about a serial killer, even a fantasy based one, I recommend reading about what the experts who caught actual serial killers have to say before turning to recent television like Dexter or Hannibal. The book also includes some discussion of the various crime scenes and killing which may provide you with some (admittedly rather gruesome) inspiration.

What kind of killer is your killer? Organized? Disorganized? If we’re discussing someone who routinely uses the same weapons over and over again, I’m going to guess these aren’t crimes of chance. Though whether or not this was the weapon he first began killing with (and holds sentimental value) is probably a question worth thinking about. If it is, then it’s likely a common one that’s valuable to his daily activities.

Is he stable (and capable of holding down a job) or mentally unstable? Why does he kill his victims? In the case of “The Vampire Killer”, he believed the people he was killing were tied to a secret Mafia organization that was poisoning him for his mother. In his trial, he firmly believed this was his chance to out the truth. We know untreated paranoid schizophrenia often results in these sorts of delusions.

Why your killer does and who he targets are going to be much more important than what he performs his killings with. Women? Men? Girls? Boys? Nobles? Merchants? Prostitutes? Religious minorities? Is he punishing his targets for some perceived slight or sin (stalking and killing prostitues because they represent immorality and corruption, coupled with a repressed sexual desire)? Is he trying to save the world? Are his killings just hack jobs or do they have a theme?

It’s all up to you really.

References for Further Reading/Viewing:

Whoever Hunts Monsters by Robert K. Ressler and Tom Shachtman. I’ve already said why this should be on your shelf if you’re writing serial killers, but I’ll say it again: FBI expert and discussion of real case files. When it comes to research: Reality > Fiction.

Seven In this famous thriller, Morgan Freeman and a young Brad Pitt star as two cops chasing down a serial killer who performs crimes based on the seven deadly sins. (Yes, Supernatural fans you can finally learn “what’s in the box” though you may wish you didn’t.)

From Hell by Alan Moore. One of Moore’s lesser known (i.e. less popular than Watchman) works surrounds the investigation into the possible identities of Jack the Ripper. Not only is it very good, it’s also very thorough.

-Michi

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Love & Horror - Kindle edition by Kris Noel, Danny Hynes. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

fictionwritingtips:

Looking for some quick reads on Kindle? My new ebook, Love & Horror, is available now on Amazon for $1.99. A few of you have asked me about my writing, so this is a good way to check it out!! Thanks!

Support your local writing blog!

Kris Noel just published her new ebook on Amazon. If it’s anywhere near as amazing as his writing advice then it’s definitely pretty incredible. So, give it a look.

-Michi

(via fictionwritingtips)

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Anonymous asked: I have a character in a fantasy story who wears a strong leather armor that covers her entire body. Would this be practical?

Without enough details… sort of. Boiled leather plates make for some marginally decent, if not very sturdy, armor. The plates aren’t particularly flexible, which is why you can use them as armor in the first place.

Properly treated leather isn’t as good for armor, but you can make an outfit out of it. It’s probably not going to be extremely comfortable without other materials getting used in the process, but yes, you can wear it.

You could combine the two to get a full body leather outfit, though you’d probably want separate pieces forming the jerkin (shirt), pants, boots and gloves (or full guantlets). If the chest includes a hood or if there’s a separate helmet would be up to you.

To be clear, I’m talking about an outfit, not a single piece of armor that covers your character’s entire body. A one-piece body suit isn’t going to be practical. This isn’t just a combat concern, by the way, it would also be an issue if your character simply needed to go to the bathroom.

We’re also talking about armor that isn’t going to be as good as metal. Boiled Leather is better than going out there with nothing but flax padding between you and an axe, but it isn’t a huge improvement.

It doesn’t really matter if the plates are exposed, visibly stitched onto the jerkin, or if they’re under the surface as part of the insulation, like a modern motorcycle jacket. I slightly prefer mixing it with the insulation, because that prevents your character’s foes from seeing the weak points in her armor, but at least in your writing, this is probably more of an aesthetic choice.

In general, full leather like this would work better in a colder environment. In a hot environment, you’ll perspire everywhere and be miserable.

Now, given it is a fantasy setting it’s possible the boiled leather is something mystical or exotic, like, say, manticore hide, and hard as steel. But that would be an aspect of world building you’d need to decide on and not a question about historically available armors.

-Starke

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Anonymous asked: What reasons might two knights (who were on the same side) have to start a long standing feud?

Because they’re people… and people inevitably will be drawn into conflict with something?

Some slight, either imagined or real was allowed to fester, and deteriorate into avarice. But, as to what could cause that? Almost anything. Perceived favoritism by a superior, blocked advancement, betrayal of trust, jealousy over a third party’s perceived attentions, holding beliefs that are offensive to the other knight, taking the last deviled egg. Anything.

It’s people. You’re asking me to tell you who your characters are, without telling me anything about them, except that they’re part of a knightly order.

-Starke

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darklyndsea asked: A late stone age (the copper age has already arrived relatively nearby) hunter-gatherer band (30-40 people, not all capable of fighting) considers it a religious duty to prepare to defend themselves against people who attack them. They're primarily armed with flint-tipped spears and bows and arrows. What kinds of tactics/strategy are they likely to be training in?

My first instinct was to say this is stretching the edge of what I know about historical warfare, but, the more I think about it, this actually stresses the limits of what archeology knows about that era.

There’s some basic information that can be inferred from hunting techniques, such as the Colby Mammoth site in Wyoming. But, this is stuff that would only be marginally applicable against another human. Herding mammoths into an arroyo is one thing, actually herding a human opponent is much harder.

Your best bet would actually be to look at anthropology concerning the surviving civilizations that have completely eschewed the last 10k years of technology.

What we know of actual warfare and tactics start with the Greek, Mesopotamian, Egyptian, and Chinese civilizations. Though that has more to do with people writing things down rather than the sudden development of a need to inflict brutal violence on their contemporaries.

-Starke

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