I wrote a while back about my plan to write the next great American novel. The plot was fairly straight forward, a serial killer who kills serial killers. However, I never wrote more than five pages because I was disgusted by the Punisher-esque cliche origins of my main character. In a streak of unimaginative glory I explained his character as a man whose wife and child died at the hands of a killer. Uber-cliche, eh? I know, I thought so too. One Punisher is quite enough.
So as I sat in church- I know, an odd place for this inspiration, but in my defense service hadn’t started yet- I came up with an idea for my main characters origins that is both unique and powerful. Instead of a cliche murder victim’s spouse and father, my main character has his family entirely intact. No, he doesn’t kill out of revenge. Instead, he kills because of a haunting past and memories that rack him with guilt so severe that at times he feels as if their weight might crush his conscience. Why does he feel so guilty?
The why has to do with his father. His father was a doting and adoring parent, a boy scout troup leader, and a PTA member, heck maybe even a stay at home dad. But behind all this he hid a double life as a killer. One day his son witnesses his actions and is paralyzed in fear. I am still working out whether his father never finds out that his sons knows, or alternatively, his father brings him along on his murderous activities. Furthermore, I am facing another fork in the literary road choosing between whether to have him kill his own father (and as a result suffer from severe internal struggle), OR allow his father to live (which would explain his killings as a penance for the murders his father continues to commit and he can’t stop). I am leaning toward the latter.
The one thing I am entirely sure of, is that he will somehow tie his actions in with a particular Bible verse. I am not entirely sure how, but he will partially find his justification in Job 40:10-13
Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor,
and clothe yourself in honor and majesty.
Unleash the fury of your wrath,
look at every proud man and bring him low,
look at every proud man and humble him,
crush the wicked where they stand.
Bury them all in the dust together;
shroud their faces in the grave.
What do you think? Still cliche? An improvement?