And He’s Proud of His Scars and the Battles He’s Lost*

Confessions of a Mystery Novelist...

Most people go through at least some sadness in their lives – sometimes true sorrow. And some of what happens can leave a person with real psychological scars. It happens in fiction, too, which makes sense, since well-written fiction shows us ourselves.

The challenge, if you’re an author, is depicting a character who has such scars. On the one hand, psychological scars impact the way people interact and think. Not to acknowledge that is unrealistic. On the other hand, many readers don’t want their characters (especially their protagonists) to be so damaged that they languish at the bottom of a bottle or at the end of a needle. That might be all right for a very short time, but most people want their main characters to be functioning, if not always entirely functional. There are some crime-fictional characters who balance dealing with their scars with actually functioning in life, and…

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