This question is for mystery writers, so I sincerely apologize if the title of this post misled you in any way. On the other hand, even if you're not a mystery writer but like to read the genre, you might be interested in this topic.
Here's the thing. I've been wondering how other mystery/suspense/thriller writers choose the victims of the crimes in their novels.
Do you have a real person in mind when you knock off a character, like the the young man who bagged your groceries and smashed the bread under a bunch of bananas? Or the retail clerk who was so busy chatting with another clerk that she pretended you weren't standing there with a question?
I've never pictured a real person as the victim in my stories, but one of my old high school chums felt I was a little tough on old boyfriends in The Prairie Grass Murders, implying I had real life boyfriends in mind. Not true. Really.
Or do your victims come from your imagination and have no resemblance to real people?
Totally from my imagination. Really.
When you begin a mystery, do you know who your victim will be, or do you assemble the characters and give them all identities before you choose which one will be the victim of a scam artist or serial killer?
My writing happens as I write, even if I have an outline. In one manuscript I knew who was going to die, but I didn't know who the murderer was until I wrote that chapter.
And finally, have any of your characters died unexpectedly...meaning you typed the guy's demise before you knew it was going to happen?
Yes, this happened to me in my newest manuscript, Dead Wrong. I'm almost sorry the character died, though. I loved writing from his point of view.
So what about you? How does the process work when you write?