Novel Character Comes to Life – And May Murder Someone

You’ve written a novel with a character that eventually murders one of his or her neighbors. Suddenly, a new person moves into your neighborhood with the same name as your character. Looks similar too. In fact, you can’t help but notice this new neighbor is doing several of the same things as your character—including laying the groundwork to murder someone. You decide to follow this person because, if all holds true to your plot, you know what’s going to happen. Write this scene.

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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135 thoughts on “Novel Character Comes to Life – And May Murder Someone

  1. kathleenmagner

    The handcuff started to chafe. Rick rolled his wrist, stretching the chain linking him to Susan. She tugged back and gripped the pistol in her right hand.

    “Don’t even think about it.”

    “I won’t run, detective.” Staring beyond the station wagon’s front bumper, at the garage door sealing them inside, Rick fought against another shift in his crouch. “I’m staying right here until we set things right.”

    “So you say.”

    Despite her jab, Susan stilled her drumming thumb against the handle of her gun, allowing the quiet of dust and boxed memories to wrap around them. Rain peppered the roof, each drop thumping into Rick’s head although no leaks let the storm wet his overdue-for-a-cut curls.

    Things like haircuts had become irrelevant once the breadcrumbs leading him to a would-be murderer’s garage had started falling. He shivered even though their stake out had warmed the air and begun fogging the station wagon’s windows.

    Susan resumed her grating stroke on her gun, and thoughts of other weaponry hidden beneath her canvas jacket and tucked in her black jeans, added to Rick’s chill. Hunching around his knees, he stewed in the embrace of a late summer storm and Susan’s growing impatience.

    Dashell will come. He has to.

    Minutes passed with the rain’s ceaseless pounding but the weather, Rick knew, would break. When it did, the garage door would open and the last act would begin. He could only hope Rebecca would be breathing when it did.

    Susan holstered her gun. “This is ridiculous.”

    “It’s not. You’ll see.”

    She frowned at him, her forehead’s three furrows beneath a sway of bangs deeper then at his arrest, then during his explanation, then when they had left the station through a back door.

    Rick consoled himself with the fact each crime thriller began with the police suspecting the wrong guy. They targeted the protagonist, the one character some attribute, quirky phrase, or mundane characteristic enabled a quick connection with the reader. With the police on his bad side, they find the poor guy innocent but accused, and another lasso’s flung around the readers’ hearts. They turn the page to see if he goes free, if he’s redeemed, if he escapes whatever fall the real culprit has in mind.

    He wondered if this whole ordeal had a reader somewhere, entertained by a plot he’d thought limited to the pages rolled through a battered typewriter.

    “All I see,” said Susan, “is a rusted station wagon.”

    “It’s his stepfathers.”

    “I know that.” Her whisper sharpened with disapproval. “I checked the title. I found the address. I discovered the—”

    She didn’t elaborate. She didn’t have to. Rick closed his eyes and saw the first dead body anyway.

    … Click here to read the rest. Any comments are welcome.

  2. bilbobaggins321

    Fully dressed in my mid-morning entourage of coffee mug and bunny slippers, I ambled nonsensically throughout the kitchen, still ricocheting my ideas off the stone of writer’s block.

    I had always lived single- partially the only reason why I was still a writer. Somehow the idea of being a recluse like Dickinson intrigued me. My neighborhood was pretty much vacant, nice and flower bed-filled but almost like a Western ghost town.

    As I slowly trotted over to my computer to peck out a few more sentences that I could manage, the warm decaf sliding down my throat, I heard a wheeze and a braking sound from outside. Annoyed that yet again something just had to interrupt my writer’s session, I stood at the window, peering through the blinds like a creeper. I was almost startled by what I saw sitting in the neighbor’s driveway- a moving van, a large green leviathan that had just decided to settle right in front of my garage. How dare he?

    Well, I thought. I’ll just keep writing anyways. Perhaps a neighbor will actually enthuse me to participate in society. I slid into my cozy computer chair, opening it up on Microsoft Word. I gazed silently at the first sentence of the last chapter: “Rusty Miller crept behind the mulberry bush, popping his head over only when he did not hear the sound of the scraping shovel.” It was a good enough sentence, I thought. I raised my hands to the keyboard, the creative juices bubbling over.

    Ding, dong! The doorbell rang resoundingly. What? Did the moving guys come over to scrape together a few more bucks to get them to the nearest truck stop? Feeling as if my head had become a hornet’s nest, I unlocked the door and yanked it open, almost drawling, “Who’s there?”

    There stood a man, about my height, with a black blazer and green pants, his blue eyes piercing right into my soul. He must be the neighbor, I thought. But he looks so familiar.
    “Have we met?” I said, anxious to his reply.
    “I think not,” he said, in a voice as slippery as a snake. “I’m the person moving in next door. Trust me, we’ll be great friends. My name is Edward Hawnston.”

    Somehow I doubted that as I closed the door. He did seem familiar, too familiar. And then it struck me- he looked just like the murdurer in my unfinished manuscript, Ernest Hawke. And his name was so similar too. It suddenly felt like I was part of a Twilight Zone episode or something. Could this be true?

    I raced back to my computer, scrolling up to the first chapter. I had described the two men the same exact way- before the moving truck ever came. A chill rolled up and down my spine, fear creeping over me like a blanket. I had to get away.

    A week from then I moved, because I knew what would happen- he would break into the neighbor’s house and stab him to death, and no one would know. He would bury the body in the backyard; the police would be stumped. So I packed my small amount of belongings into my rusted Chevy and drove as fast as I could away from that hellhole, before Mr. Crowbar could catch up with me. Maybe they’ll like my manuscript in the Big Apple.

    And for the first time in my life, I felt sorry for the moving men.

  3. AmandaJHope

    “You look like someone I’d write about”, I stared at Laila’s strawberry blonde hair. Laila smiled at me.


    We stared at each other for ten minutes. Staring, blushing, smiling. Then we said goodbye and I watched her walk across the street before going to my porch. Her skirt danced with every step and that strawberry blonde hair… boy oh boy, that strawberry blonde hair. I watched the sun set a little before going inside the house. I went into the kitchen and opened the cabinets. Peppermint tea, apple cinnamon spice, black.

    Peppermint it is, I thought. I pulled out a kettle and boiled some water, then sat down at the kitchen table and looked at the manuscript I left on it. I rubbed my eyes and looked at them. Mirror, Mirror was the story. The first suspense I had written and set without any intent to sell it. The kettle whistled and I threw the peppermint tea bag into a mug with brown sugar. I poured the water in. Was that the right way to make tea? I don’t know or care. I sat back down, inhaling the minty fumes and skimmed through Mirror, Mirror.

    ” Linda sat next to the body and waited for Sandy to come home….. sweat dripped down her forehead….blah blah blah,” I hated reading my own work.

    “Noooooooo,” a scream from outside my window made me spill the peppermint tea all over my papers. I got up and dashed toward the window. What on earth? I twisted the shades and looked out. It was a young girl, probably in her twenties, running down the street. She had a necklace with the letter S on it. Don’t ask me how I saw it from my window. I opened my door and stood on the front lawn.

    “Something wrong?” I said. She never stopped running. I looked in the direction she came from and saw the front door open. It was Laila’s door. Why would you have your door open young lady, I thought. Why wold her door be open? I walked over to and knocked.

    “Laila?” No answer. I called again. Still no answer. I peered in and was greeted by the smell of dead rats and bleach. My eyes felt as if the bleach was thrown directly into them. I screamed. I don’t know why I ran into her kitchen instead of going home to rinse my eyes. No, I actually do know why. My house was too far! Diddly darn! I rinsed them out, along with the salty fluid that streamed out of my nose. I turned off the faucet and tried to run out the house as fast as I could, when I caught vision of something squatting in my peripheral vision. I turned around. It was Laila sitting next to a black bag as big as her.

    “Hey,” that’s all I could have said. Laila smiled at me. I apologized and turned to walk out, but I had a question.

    “Laila?” Laila was still smiling. My eyes still burned. I looked at her and waited for an answer without even asking her the question.

    “I was waiting for Sandy,” she said. I ran out of the house and never turned back.

  4. jeinsedai

    I pressed 911 on my mobile phone but I couldn’t connect. In utter desperation, I threw my phone and hit the tree on my neighbour’s front lawn. It was almost a noiseless thwack but the sound reverberated in my ears and my heartbeat went wild in competition with that.

    From where I was hiding, I looked at the tall figure of Brad Dungo. He was inside the house of Mrs. Donnietel. I imagined that at this time, he will already be in the kitchen, thumbing the sharp knife that he will eventually use to dismember his victim. My eyes are popping in anticipation, – maybe fear. This is exactly how I had written my novel and I couldn’t muster the courage to use the gun I’m holding in my right hand.

    My hair is slick with perspiration and to my tense ears, even the slow dripping of my perspiration sounded too loud. I tried to grip the gun steadily and succeeded but my knees were wobbly. I keep on reminding myself that I do not have to be a hero, after all, I have already sent the final copy of my manuscript to the publisher, there will be no sense altering how my novel will end.
    As I walked toward the door, I didn’t notice the brick that was dislodged on the pathway. I cursed myself as I fell, gun in hand, and shot the door. My mouth went dry. I stood up and in panic threw the gun away. When the door suddenly opened and Brad smiled at me, the hair on my neck stood up. Even his smile was eerie.

    “Well, hello,” Brad said.

    I stared at his menacing eyes and croaked. “Hello…”

    Brad laughed. His laughter pierced the thick air that was surrounding me. I must have looked like a toad, with my eyes bulging in fear, and with the croak that I just gave. Still hesitant about whether being the hero of Mrs. Donnietel, I wiped my clammy palms against my jeans. Brad moved forward to introduce himself and offer his hand.

    I shrieked and ran all the way back to my house. It was a mere hundred meters from Mrs. Donnietel’s house. I locked the door and hurriedly went upstairs to my room.

    I know how this will end, Brad will now murder my poor neighbour. With shaking hands, I looked for the draft of my manuscript. I skimmed the pages and reached the end of the story. It was blank! Oh goddamnit! How I hate writing when I’m drunk! It always messes up my ending.

    But the one I sent to the publisher was clear about the ending. “Body found dead, reported by neighbour” will be tomorrow’s headline. From the window of my room I looked outside at Mrs. Donnietel’s house and hesitated. She’s alive? She was talking on the phone and pointing to my door. “What on earth?” I thought. Then, my door swung open and my eye caught sight of Brad. I shivered.


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