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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
so criminals are different from civilized people. How so? They are usually less inhibited that regular folks. Some, even have their instincts disproportionately developed in one predilection or another. Looking at it from the lens of extroverted intuition is baffling. I was thinking what kinds of crimes are there. The first one, the very first one that comes to mind is murder. And with murder comes to mind Albert Camus's The Outsider. The ethical consequences after murder are absurd. Camus said there is only one real philosophical question and that is suicide. I'd add that there is only one real creative question: murder.

But then other crimes are also crimes. So, the next one that comes to mind is picking pockets. That is also bad. Someone might have need, some urgent, important, dire need to that money and I stole it. Then I go on and enjoy spending that money. What kind of a person does that make me? Then there are robberies. Robberies would require one to be bolder than a thief. Theft is also right there. Cheating borders between blue-collar and white-collar crimes. There might be violence, beating someone up? What crime would that constitute? What else? Kidnapping! Yes, kidnapping is interesting. Hurting the kidnapped person would take a degree of sadism in a person.

Can you think of a few other crimes? And what do you think about these crimes? Do you think they are just flat immoral acts or are there complexities involved?

Here is a joke for you to start with:

A philosopher and a writer sat in a bar drinking. The writer whined, the world has become such an evil place. What does philosophy say about that?

The philosopher answered with a question, "There is a train coming. On one track you have seven people you know and on the other two hundred you don't. Which group of people would you let die?"

The writer answered with another question, " Do I get to choose the seven?"
 
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Discussion Starter #3
I thought about it all day long. Kidnapping seems the thing. I want to talk all the practicalities of it, as if we were accomplices and planning one. You will have your context and we would eventually land on the moral judgement of it. So, who do you want to pick? Tell me details if you can think of. If not, I will begin. Please continue if you find this interesting and you are willing to go some distance on this with me. I am really thinking deeply about the subject at hand.
 

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They are just people like every other character. They are complex, have motivations, have desires, secrets, and all the rest. For a recent example, let's take the joker from Batman. In the comics he's just an insane nihilistic guy, but that's just like a regular psycho villain. The real power behind the new Joker movie, aside from the acting, is that it gave him a believable backstory of how he became the Joker.

So when writing crime fiction, it's like any other fiction. All the characters have a past and a backstory, but just because they have one doesn't mean you need to write a whole biography about it. But it has to be believable. Let's get into some more examples.

Burying someone alive seems like a pretty cruel way to end someone, let alone a former friend. But in Poe's The Cask Of Amontillado, Montressor does it out of revenge, and he uses the guy's love of wine against him, using it in order to get him drunk enough to follow him into the crypt to taste the wine. It's not just some random murder, it's out of revenge.

Let's think of some more hypothetical examples. Say we're writing a story about murder. Ok, let's up the ante and say it's a kid who's the murderer. Why would a kid murder? Maybe he shot his dad who was beating his mother to death and it was in self defense, and puts his mom out of her misery, but gets blamed for both murders. Self defense and a mercy killing, but technically still murder.

Maybe the kid is in a rough area and his new friends are actually recruiting him into a violent street gang. If he doesn't kill someone as innitation, they will murder his whole family. His family can't call the police because they are here illegally. So he chooses some random person. This is kind of like the train example that you gave. Is he a violent street criminal or some kid trying to protect his family?

Maybe it's about power. Maybe the guy's a mob boss and needs to make an example of his enemies in order to be feared and keep people from going up against him. You see this in alot of crime stuff. The Godfather, The Untouchables, Goodfellas, Gans of New York, The Departed.

Maybe it's love. Get rid of the husband so they can continue their affair. Classic examples from pulp fiction and noir with The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity, two classics of the genre.

Even going back to early crime stuff, pulp stuff and film noir, alot of it was them being the products of their environment. The dark city (which is what gotham in Batman is based off of). A city full of crime, twilight, shadows, desperate, lonely outcast people, making one last stand. Alienation, dissilusionment, hard living, desperate circumstances. All of that could lead someone to a life of crime. Same today as it was in the 1940s.

I guess my point is that they aren't really that different from most people, aside from seriel killers or extreme psychopaths or something, but those are pretty rare and usually it's the result of some underlying mental illness.

Even in a recent example, on the show The Sinner, the woman murders a random man in cold blood, but as the show progresses you realize it wasn't random and she has underlying PTSD and other things that led up to it.

If you're writing crime fiction, just treat them like you would any other character. They do bad things, but they have a past that led them to that, whatever it may be.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
@Stable Genius

No. No. I believe something gets twisted inside a person once he commits a crime. It is a place of lost innocence and no coming back. A criminal is not like any other character. Within the class of criminals there can be a lot of variety and I can understand if someone sympathized with criminals in narratives. That is understandable. Narratives are constructed that way that one is supposed to sympathize with the criminal. But . . . something changes when a person commits a crime. I can explain it to you this way:

If you are getting mistreated by public in a place, you might cry for fairness/goodness in that instance. But a criminal won't do that. Won't even be able to think of doing that. Another example can be, if a regular person walks in a shady place, he would be scared. A criminal in such an area would not have that fear. He would just be aware. Which brings us to another aspect that criminals are usually far more aware of their immediate world around them. Another thing can be that a criminal has a ruthlessness that regular people lack. All these hardening of impulses come together to construct a being quite different from characters in a romance, family drama etc. And those other characters would be different from all others in their own way. I really don't understand why you thought that all characters are the same would be a helpful suggestion. It makes the proposition of talking about a specific character quite meaningless.
 

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@Stable Genius

No. No. I believe something gets twisted inside a person once he commits a crime. It is a place of lost innocence and no coming back. A criminal is not like any other character. Within the class of criminals there can be a lot of variety and I can understand if someone sympathized with criminals in narratives. That is understandable. Narratives are constructed that way that one is supposed to sympathize with the criminal. But . . . something changes when a person commits a crime. I can explain it to you this way:

If you are getting mistreated by public in a place, you might cry for fairness/goodness in that instance. But a criminal won't do that. Won't even be able to think of doing that. Another example can be, if a regular person walks in a shady place, he would be scared. A criminal in such an area would not have that fear. He would just be aware. Which brings us to another aspect that criminals are usually far more aware of their immediate world around them. Another thing can be that a criminal has a ruthlessness that regular people lack. All these hardening of impulses come together to construct a being quite different from characters in a romance, family drama etc. And those other characters would be different from all others in their own way. I really don't understand why you thought that all characters are the same would be a helpful suggestion. It makes the proposition of talking about a specific character quite meaningless.
Ok, so you missed the entire point of my post. Yeah, killing someone will change you, but if you're writing a war hero suffering from PTSD, that's a very different story than someone who murder's their husband. They both kill people, but it's different.

And I meant that they are like every other character in the sense that they all have a past, a backstory, something that led them to that moment in the story. In that sense, you should treat them as such instead of just making them some all evil villain because that makes for weak writing.

And by your examples I would be a criminal. If I was being treated unfairly, I'd fight back. I've been in very shady places and I wasn't scared, but I remained aware of my surroundings.

Also, family dramas and romance, ok yeah if you're writing genre stuff you probably won't see a criminal. But for literary stuff, murder and criminal activity happen quite frequently. Family dramas could have someone murdering someone in the family, romance definitely could have scorned lovers murdering people. To think that they're all some evil separate person is naive. Unless you're writing about a total psychopath who just kills to kill, in which case, those are usually boring and go nowhere because there is no reason why and people like to understand why.
 

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If you're writing crime fiction, just treat them like you would any other character. They do bad things, but they have a past that led them to that, whatever it may be.
Wish I could give a thousand likes to your post. Touches on everything I could want to say.

A bit unrelated, but I have been looking for The Cask of Amontillado since I read it in HS. I couldn't remember the title and it's been bothering more as of late. You solved my mystery. :proud:
 
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I think real serious crimes involving death or hurting some if the perpetrator is not a child and it is not self defense or murder twist the soul but the soul might of already been twisted you just twisted it further.
But I also believe there may be a chance if the person was not a psychopath that some part of that person is not far gone as we like to think and deeply regretting but do I think psychologically there is a way to fix that person? No

Physically abusing someone kidnapping rapeing physical abuse
I think that does twist the soul but can be taught away if the person is willing.

I didn't believe physically abusive ie assaulting others could be taught away

Till I learned karumo brown who has helped numerous people on queer eye used to abuse people
I don't believe that man can hurt anyone anymore

so I think it really depends on the person mindset do they enjoy there life or not?

But unless your writing a psychopath you can just write it like anyone else really
 
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Discussion Starter #10
@Pinkieshyrose

It is very interesting what you said. You do accept a bit of darkness in the human soul. Stable Genius does not and I, for one, sees a lot of darkness possible in a human soul. I wasn't quite sure where I stood and I reprimanded myself for sympathizing too much with all my characters. After reading your comment, things change somehow for me. I realize I am not sympathizing with my characters as much as an infp would. In fact, I am willing for something irredeemable happening to my characters and then the characters do something irredeemable themselves. I haven't figured out what that might be and it is for that sake that I started this thread. But as is usual with me, I start a thread with one intent and it goes on to acquire intentions of its own. :)

There are multiple ways of dealing with a crime and an irredeemable situation. My way would be the path of no return. A man goes too far, people around him push him off the ledge. He falls and then resurrects as a hardened criminal.
 
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@Pinkieshyrose

It is very interesting what you said. You do accept a bit of darkness in the human soul. Stable Genius does not and I, for one, sees a lot of darkness possible in a human soul.
Once again you completely missed the point of my post. I think everyone has the capacity for darkness and under the right circumstances could be pushed into criminal territory. That's why I gave examples of family, scorned lovers, ect. carrying out something like murder, which happens all the time in real life anyways.
 

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Something happened yesterday that I thought I might share:

A colleague and I were discussing whether it was 'better' to chop someone's head off, or a hand. My colleague reasoned that chopping a hand was 'better' (for her) because the victim would be conscious and feel the wrath. So, an evil take to it. I reasoned that chopping off a head would be better, because I wouldn't have to suffer any more 'pain' (of killing), as the victim would instantly die. I didn't have any desire for the gratification of the victim feeling anguish, while my colleague did.

It's a fairly dark conversation, but I think the complexity lies in motives and eventual consequences. Some criminals feel intense remorse and do not necessarily take joy in what they do, but others do. Oddly, the crimes in which people make their victims suffer horrendously and unnecessarily so, are worse to me. There's disregard for human life, and then ....DISdisregard for human life. Of course, that changes when it's an act committed in self defense (I don't see it as disregard for human life, but protection of yourself).

I consider rape and child abuse to be the worst, as they are essentially acts of torture, and I have yet to determine a reason for why they would be committed as acts of self-defense.
 
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Discussion Starter #15
Once again you completely missed the point of my post. I think everyone has the capacity for darkness and under the right circumstances could be pushed into criminal territory. That's why I gave examples of family, scorned lovers, ect. carrying out something like murder, which happens all the time in real life anyways.
I don't think you understand what capacity for darkness means. You can provide a backstory to any character and humanize him/her. I am not saying it's a shortcoming. It is your creative preference (I infer this from your first post where you insisted that everyone can be interesting when added a back story with). I am saying it is different from mine.

Otherwise, you do not really have a creative preference and you are talking all over the place, which makes most of what you are saying senseless. I presume this is not the case and you do have an empathetic response to most criminal characters. I happen to have a different take. If you actually read the OP, you would see that that was the actual question there. I did not ask for advice to develop a criminal character. I asked about crimes themselves and not an assortment of a variety of criminals.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Something happened yesterday that I thought I might share:

A colleague and I were discussing whether it was 'better' to chop someone's head off, or a hand. My colleague reasoned that chopping a hand was 'better' (for her) because the victim would be conscious and feel the wrath. So, an evil take to it. I reasoned that chopping off a head would be better, because I wouldn't have to suffer any more 'pain' (of killing), as the victim would instantly die. I didn't have any desire for the gratification of the victim feeling anguish, while my colleague did.
I happen to agree with both of you on this. Chopping a hand would lead to an inferior life while chopping the head off would be the end of all the dreams and hopes of that person. I am ignoring the immediate pain of the amputation, head or hand.

It's a fairly dark conversation, but I think the complexity lies in motives and eventual consequences. Some criminals feel intense remorse and do not necessarily take joy in what they do, but others do. Oddly, the crimes in which people make their victims suffer horrendously and unnecessarily so, are worse to me. There's disregard for human life, and then ....DISdisregard for human life. Of course, that changes when it's an act committed in self defense (I don't see it as disregard for human life, but protection of yourself).
I think criminals filled with remorse are mostly fictional, a work of imagination alone. Act of self-defense does not count as crime. Even in penal codes they don't. The part that is horrendous to you is of interest to me. Consider this - information is to be extracted from a person (criminal or innocent) and for that he needs to be hurt physically. Now one has to make a victim suffer and it IS for a reason. What do you think about that?


I consider rape and child abuse to be the worst, as they are essentially acts of torture, and I have yet to determine a reason for why they would be committed as acts of self-defense.
There are way too many of these happening around where I live. I don't think those are committed or can be committed as self-defense. You don't need to justify every kind of crime out there. I recommend you watch Dogville by Lars Von Trier. All criminals and all wrong doers cannot be empathized with. The film expresses that powerfully.
 
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I think criminals filled with remorse are mostly fictional, a work of imagination alone. Act of self-defense does not count as crime. Even in penal codes they don't. The part that is horrendous to you is of interest to me. Consider this - information is to be extracted from a person (criminal or innocent) and for that he needs to be hurt physically. Now one has to make a victim suffer and it IS for a reason. What do you think about that?
I don't think they are mostly fictional. The crimes here can range from petty theft to murder. I highly doubt that most do not experience some regret/remorse about what they did [if they are reformed and no longer partaking in those activities).

Why would they need to be hurt physically? I just don't see a reason for torture. In the few instances I've heard of it being used as a tactic... it's not been fruitful (the person remained silent / or perished). Physical threats just aren't my cup of tea. There are certainly non-physical threats, like going to jail or losing a job, but they aren't on the same level for me. It would still be evil to me. DOn't know why it's different, though.

Rape and child abuse certainly aren't acts of self-defense. If someone wanted to argue they were, I would need clear cut examples. Those two just don't need to exist. The epitome of evil, if you will.
 

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I don't think you understand what capacity for darkness means. You can provide a backstory to any character and humanize him/her. I am not saying it's a shortcoming. It is your creative preference (I infer this from your first post where you insisted that everyone can be interesting when added a back story with). I am saying it is different from mine.

Otherwise, you do not really have a creative preference and you are talking all over the place, which makes most of what you are saying senseless. I presume this is not the case and you do have an empathetic response to most criminal characters. I happen to have a different take. If you actually read the OP, you would see that that was the actual question there. I did not ask for advice to develop a criminal character. I asked about crimes themselves and not an assortment of a variety of criminals.
No, I'm telling you how to create a compelling villain, which is what your thread is about. You're thread is titled writing crime fiction, and I'm telling you as a published author, how to write better.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I don't think they are mostly fictional. The crimes here can range from petty theft to murder. I highly doubt that most do not experience some regret/remorse about what they did [if they are reformed and no longer partaking in those activities).
Let us argue about this, shall we? You commit a crime regularly, in some cases daily. Won't you find regret or remorse pretentious after some time? Reformation is a different thing and it has complications of its own. Slowly, with the passage of time, the reason for committing the crime in the first place would become a worldview. This worldview will get hardened by repeated acts of crime. I think regret would remain only in a very small number of criminals. Others would be more into the thrill that comes along with the act of crime. Instincts would rage for the crime instead of specific needs. I am open to disagreements. Just wanna talk about this.

Why would they need to be hurt physically? I just don't see a reason for torture. In the few instances I've heard of it being used as a tactic... it's not been fruitful (the person remained silent / or perished). Physical threats just aren't my cup of tea. There are certainly non-physical threats, like going to jail or losing a job, but they aren't on the same level for me. It would still be evil to me. DOn't know why it's different, though.
Both loyalty and treachery run deep in the crime world. If you want an information, another person might not give it, out of loyalty to a third person. He would be treacherous to you and say he doesn't know. He would also throw a lot of emotions and reasons around it to convince you that he doesn't know. But you cannot believe him. Because you are smart and know that a criminal is treacherous. When you hurt this person physically, more importantly, when you demonstrate a certain ruthlessness in your harming him, it would send fear down his spine and he would reveal the truth. Without this fear, he has got no reason to reveal a secret that was shared with him in good faith.

Rape and child abuse certainly aren't acts of self-defense. If someone wanted to argue they were, I would need clear cut examples. Those two just don't need to exist. The epitome of evil, if you will.
Interesting that you brought up the idea of epitome of evil. I am torn between two things on this question. On one side, there is the sadistic one who enjoys torturing people (this would include rapists, child-abusers etc) and on the other there is the cold ruthless one would would hurt anyone to any degree just because he needs to. It is hard to choose between these two. Would be interesting to put these two face to face with each other.
 

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Let us argue about this, shall we? You commit a crime regularly, in some cases daily. Won't you find regret or remorse pretentious after some time? Reformation is a different thing and it has complications of its own. Slowly, with the passage of time, the reason for committing the crime in the first place would become a worldview. This worldview will get hardened by repeated acts of crime. I think regret would remain only in a very small number of criminals. Others would be more into the thrill that comes along with the act of crime. Instincts would rage for the crime instead of specific needs. I am open to disagreements. Just wanna talk about this.



Both loyalty and treachery run deep in the crime world. If you want an information, another person might not give it, out of loyalty to a third person. He would be treacherous to you and say he doesn't know. He would also throw a lot of emotions and reasons around it to convince you that he doesn't know. But you cannot believe him. Because you are smart and know that a criminal is treacherous. When you hurt this person physically, more importantly, when you demonstrate a certain ruthlessness in your harming him, it would send fear down his spine and he would reveal the truth. Without this fear, he has got no reason to reveal a secret that was shared with him in good faith.
1) Not necessarily, it might just become a 'new normal' to commit such acts. Doesn't necessarily mean that said person wouldn't go through the same emotions time and time again, until they hit their breaking point. There will certainly be people who are hardened and do not want to return....but they're not nearly as interesting to read as those who continue to struggle with the complexities of being human.

2) The last thing I watched involving a situation like this was Pan's Labyrinth. A rebel was being tortured by an officer, but still did not yield, but rather asked the doctor to euthanize him. If someone is willing to be tortured to hold onto their secrets, why would they not be willing to die? I respect the rebel more for not yielding, and that gives the character backbone that I 'enjoy'. Even in this scenario, the rebel is a 'criminal', but so is the officer. Everyone is operating on some level of fear, but those who rise above it make for more intriguing characters.

That sounds more 'ideal', someone continuing to commit a crime until they lose their 'self' to chasing said crime. More likely, there's a reason for a crime to be committed (or motive), said crime is committed, then said person is caught and life goes on. Even if half of those who end up going to prison for their crimes, recommitted after release, it still would not add up to most being hardened. Most people who commit crimes do not commit them again after serving time.
 
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