Saturday, December 29, 2007

Equal Opportunity Villains

I'm about to turn a Robert into a Roberta.

No, it won't be a serious medical procedure, just a matter of finding all the Roberts in my manuscript and replacing them with Roberta. Then I'll have to go through the whole text and change the physical descriptions, dialogue, and other gender-specific references.

All this because I just decided that my killer, formerly known as Robert, is actually Roberta.

It all came about because I have too many male killers in my crime writing past, and I like to have balance.

I'm a chart person. One of my important ones is a list of all my books, with columns for the method of killing, the gender of victim, the gender and motive of the killer, as well as occupations and other characteristics.

If I leave Robert as the killer in this new book, it will upset the balance.

As we enter a new year, I need to know: does anyone care about this? Do you writers try to vary the gender of the bad guy/girl? Do you readers care or notice this in a series?

Should one of my resolutions for 2008 be to throw away my charts?


Linda O. Johnston said...

What a fascinating quandary, Camille! It's not one I've ever considered. Like my protagonist Kendra Ballantyne tells me how she'll solve her mysteries, my killers seem to tell me who they are and why they did it, without regard to genre. But now maybe I'll reassess whodunnit just to see if I create more diabolical men or women!

Monica Ferris said...

What I wish I'd done is start and keep a chart of all my running characters: how old, how tall, current love life, interesting personal tidbits, etc. It's annoying to have to keep digging into past books to find things out -- and worse, to go rummaging in an old book and find something interesting I'd forgotten all about.

As to gender of murderer: No, I don't think it matters. I do keep track of methods of murder and motive, so I don't (noticeably) repeat myself.

Deb Baker said...

I'm like you, Camille. I keep a list of murderers and motives and try to keep some balance. Still, my characters seem to have minds of their own, and sometimes I'm surprised at who really dun-it. Then it's back through the pages making changes.

ellen said...

Just don't get predictable. If the white executive always does it, it can't truly be called a whodunnit.

Camille Minichino said...

Predictable ... that's what I'm trying to avoid as you point out.

My first series has a scientist protag and I never thought I could have a scientist be a killer (or even commit a misdemeanor!) but I realized quickly that wouldn't work.

It's very interesting to hear how important or not you think this is. Aha ... the value of blogging strikes again.

Kathryn Lilley said...

I applaud varying the genders and backgrounds of the "bad guys," but I would find it difficult to go back and change the gender at the last minute--it would require lots of rewriting. So far in my books, the gender has informed the motivation of the character in key respects. For example, a female murderer might be a "woman wronged" in the victim's past, so changing her to male would require wholesale reworking of his motivation for the murder. That's more than I wish to contemplate doing!

Camille Minichino said...

Definitely not desirable at the last minute, Kathryn.
Another vote for better outlines I guess. It sounds like you do a good job at that.

Anonymous said...

I love lady killers (no pun intended). Don't EVER throw away those charts! xoxoxox