Murder, Maggots, Blood-spatter, and Lunch


One reason I enjoy the Arizona Mystery Writers’ monthly meeting is the variety of expert speakers who help us write imaginative and realistic stories.  See (  This week, a captain from the county sheriff’s department will give a talk on the evidentiary value of bloodstain interpretation. He’ll show pictures of stain and flow patterns associated with various gunshot wounds.  And then lunch is served!

There’s something perverse about mystery writers in their love of the macabre. Nobody seems to get squeamish. Maybe it’s a self-selected crowd. I  remember nibbling a quesadilla while watching slides explaining how time of death can be estimated from maggot activity.  Lot’s o’ fun.

There’s one exception however. Many of our members absolutely cannot tolerate any description of cruelty to animals. Pictures? Out of the question. We had people walk out of a meeting when one speaker showed neglected animals in the homes of compulsive hoarders. The lesson for writers:  any degree of mayhem, murder and gore is acceptable, as long as you save the cat and never kill the dog!

I killed a dog in my very first novel, a thriller. I didn’t know this rule yet.  I’m thinking of going back to that (self-published) novel and trying to adapt it into a screenplay, just for practice. If I do that, I will let the dog survive.

I’ve got a screenwriters’ meeting coming up and I really should produce something for them, but I’m bogged down in the third revision of my android sequel. I’m having to write a whole new chapter, introducing a new character with his own backstory and everything.

It’s a prioritization decision. Too bad I have to sleep all those useless hours every night.


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