Some attention-grabbing, knock ‘em dead first lines

canstockphoto4734665There seems to be a lot of pressure to write a memorable, attention-grabbing, knock ’em dead first line.

As authors, we’re supposed to understand its critical importance. Without an attention-grabbing, knock ‘em dead first line, readers may not move to the second. So, as I write and rewrite an opening line for my new novel, I thought a look at the first lines of some of my favorite books would provide a little inspiration.

“From the moment the early morning fog had begun to lift, they sensed they were being watched.”
— ‘MEG,’ Steve Alten

“Tuesday was a fine California day, full of sunshine and promise, until Harry Lyon had to shoot someone at lunch.”
— ‘DRAGON TEARS,’ Dean Koontz

“Even before the events in the supermarket, Jim Ironheart should have known trouble was coming.”
— ‘COLD FIRE,’ Dean Koontz

“You’ve been here before.”
— ‘NEEDFUL THINGS,’ Stephen King

“The terror, which would not end for another twenty-eight years — if it ever did — began, so far as I know or can tell, with a boat made from a sheet of newspaper floating down a gutter swollen with rain.”
— ‘IT,’ Stephen King

“He should never have taken that shortcut.”
— ‘TIMELINE,’ Michael Crichton

“It hovered in the ink-dark water, waiting.”
— ‘BEAST,’ Peter Benchley

“The great fish moved silently through the night water, propelled by short sweeps of its crescent tail.”
— ‘JAWS,’ Peter Benchley

“The Senior Partner studied the resume for the hundredth time and again found nothing he disliked about Mitchell Y. McDeere, at least not on paper.”
— ‘THE FIRM,’ John Grisham

“My decision to become a lawyer was irrevocably sealed when I realized my father hated the legal profession.”
— ‘THE RAINMAKER,’ John Grisham

“The decision to bomb the office of the radical Jew lawyer was reached with relative ease.”
— ‘THE CHAMBER,’ John Grisham

“Benton Wesley was taking off his running shoes in my kitchen when I ran into him, my heart tripping over fear and hate and remembered horror.”
— ‘POINT OF ORIGIN,’ Patricia Cornwell

“Brass stars with celebrities’ names were inlaid in the sidewalk but the stars of the night were toxin merchants, strong-arm specialists, and fifteen-year-olds running from family values turned vicious.”
— ‘SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST,’ Jonathan Kellerman

“The shark on the dock was no monster.”
— ‘THE WEB,’ Jonathan Kellerman

“The Cross house was twenty paces away and the proximity and sight of it made Gary Soneji’s skin prickle.”
— ‘CAT & MOUSE,’ James Patterson

“Brianne Parker didn’t look like a bank robber or a murderer — her pleasantly plumb baby face fooled everyone.”
— ‘ROSES ARE RED,’ James Patterson

“Afterwards, steadfastly through the questioning, Scott Covey tried to make everyone understand just how it had happened.”
— ‘REMEMBER ME,’ Mary Higgins Clark

“Fifteen-year-old Nell MacDermott turned and began the swim back to shore.”
— ‘BEFORE I SAY GOODBYE,’ Mary Higgins Clark

“If Alvirah had known on that July evening what was waiting for her at her fancy new apartment on Central Park South, she would never have gotten off the plane.”
— ‘THE LOTTERY WINNER,’ Mary Higgins Clark

“She undressed slowly, dreamily, and when she was naked, she selected a bright red negligee to wear so that the blood would not show.”
— ‘IF TOMORROW COMES,’ Sidney Sheldon

“The large ballroom was crowded with familiar ghosts come to help celebrate her birthday.”
— ‘MASTER OF THE GAME,’ Sidney Sheldon

“Some kids found her.”
— ‘MY DARK PLACES,’ James Elroy

“If there is anything unusual on Pequod Street, a disturbance in the night suggests impending loss or change, a disruption or a dislocation, Clary Hale’s fatherless children are sleeping too profoundly to hear it.”
— ‘GONE,’ Kit Craig

“Boy, it’s hard to believe now, but not long before the Girl’s Night Out Fiasco, I was complaining about being bored.”

“Chris Mankowski’s last day on the job, two in the afternoon, two hours to go, he got a call to dispose of a bomb.”
— ‘FREAKY DEAKY,’ Elmore Leonard

“When the phone rang, Parker was in the garage, killing a man.”
— ‘FIREBREAK,’ Richard Stark

“The old lady had changed her mind about dying but by then it was too late.”
— ‘CITY OF BONES,’ Michael Connelly

“Three days before her death, my mother told me—they weren’t her last words but they were pretty close—that my brother was still alive.”
— ‘GONE FOR GOOD,’ Harlan Coben

Want more info, check out these articles:

“Thriller First Lines”

Your First Line: The Hook that gets your novel off the bookshelves and onto the checkout counter 

5 Books Every Writer Should Read

The Tampa Writer’s Alliance recommended five books that should be on very author’s bookshelf (or in their Kindle). I’ve read Stephen King’s “On Writing” and Renni Brown’s “Self Editing For Fiction Writers.” I’ve refer to both often as I write. I’m currently reading “The First Five Pages.” I’ll be checking out the last two soon.

Any other suggestions? Post in the comments.


first 5 pagesThe First Five Pages: A Writer’S Guide To Staying Out of the Rejection Pile
by Noah Lukeman

The difference between The First Five Pages and most books on writing is that the others are written by teachers and writers. This one comes from a literary agent–one whose clients include Pulitzer Prize nominees, New York Times bestselling authors, Pushcart Prize recipients, and American Book Award winners. Noah Lukeman is not trying to impart the finer points of writing well. He wants to teach you “how to identify and avoid bad writing,” so that your manuscript doesn’t come boomeranging back to you in that self-addressed, stamped envelope. Surprise: Agents and editors don’t read manuscripts for fun; they are looking for reasons to reject them. Lukeman has arranged his book “in the order of what I look for when trying to dismiss a manuscript,” starting with presentation and concluding with pacing and progression. Each chapter addresses a pitfall of poor writing–overabundance of adjectives and adverbs, tedious or unrealistic dialogue, and lack of subtlety to name just a few–by identifying the problem, presenting solutions, giving examples (one wishes these weren’t quite so obvious), and offering writing exercises. It’s a little bizarre to think about approaching your work as would an agent, but if you are serious about getting published, you may as well get used to it. Plus, Lukeman has plenty of solid advice worth listening to. Particularly fine are his exercises for removing and spicing up modifiers and his remedies for all kinds of faulty dialogue. –Jane Steinberg, Editorial Review


self-editing_for_fiction_writersSelf-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print
by Renni Browne and Dave King

Hundreds of books have been written on the art of writing. Here at last is a book by two professional editors to teach writers the techniques of the editing trade that turn promising manuscripts into published novels and short stories.

In the completely revised and updated second edition, Renni Browne and Dave King teach you, the writer, how to apply the editing techniques they have developed to your own work. Chapters on dialogue, exposition, point of view, interior monologue, and other techniques take you through the same processes an expert editor would go through to perfect your manuscript. Each point is illustrated with examples, many drawn from the hundreds of books Browne and King have edited.




On WritingOn Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft
by Stephen King

Short and snappy as it is, Stephen King’s On Writing really contains two books: a fondly sardonic autobiography and a tough-love lesson for aspiring novelists. The memoir is terrific stuff, a vivid description of how a writer grew out of a misbehaving kid. You’re right there with the young author as he’s tormented by poison ivy, gas-passing babysitters, uptight schoolmarms, and a laundry job nastier than Jack London’s. It’s a ripping yarn that casts a sharp light on his fiction. This was a child who dug Yvette Vickers from Attack of the Giant Leeches, not Sandra Dee. “I wanted monsters that ate whole cities, radioactive corpses that came out of the ocean and ate surfers, and girls in black bras who looked like trailer trash.” But massive reading on all literary levels was a craving just as crucial, and soon King was the published author of “I Was a Teen-Age Graverobber.” As a young adult raising a family in a trailer, King started a story inspired by his stint as a janitor cleaning a high-school girls locker room. He crumpled it up, but his writer wife retrieved it from the trash, and using her advice about the girl milieu and his own memories of two reviled teenage classmates who died young, he came up with Carrie. King gives us lots of revelations about his life and work. The kidnapper character in Misery, the mind-possessing monsters in The Tommyknockers, and the haunting of the blocked writer in The Shining symbolized his cocaine and booze addiction (overcome thanks to his wife’s intervention, which he describes). “There’s one novel, Cujo, that I barely remember writing.”
King also evokes his college days and his recovery from the van crash that nearly killed him, but the focus is always on what it all means to the craft. He gives you a whole writer’s “tool kit”: a reading list, writing assignments, a corrected story, and nuts-and-bolts advice on dollars and cents, plot and character, the basic building block of the paragraph, and literary models. He shows what you can learn from H.P. Lovecraft’s arcane vocabulary, Hemingway’s leanness, Grisham’s authenticity, Richard Dooling’s artful obscenity, Jonathan Kellerman’s sentence fragments. He explains why Hart’s War is a great story marred by a tin ear for dialogue, and how Elmore Leonard’s Be Cool could be the antidote.

King isn’t just a writer, he’s a true teacher. –Tim Appelo, Review


How_To_Read_A_BookHow to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading
by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren

Writers are defined by their readers.

Originally published in 1940, this book is a rare phenomenon, a living classic that introduces and elucidates the various levels of reading and how to achieve them—from elementary reading, through systematic skimming and inspectional reading, to speed reading. Readers will learn when and how to “judge a book by its cover,” and also how to X-ray it, read critically, and extract the author’s message from the text.

Also included is instruction in the different techniques that work best for reading particular genres, such as practical books, imaginative literature, plays, poetry, history, science and mathematics, philosophy and social science works.

Finally, the authors offer a recommended reading list and supply reading tests you can use measure your own progress in reading skills, comprehension, and speed.


birdbybirdBird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
by Anne Lamott

Think you’ve got a book inside of you? Anne Lamott isn’t afraid to help you let it out. She’ll help you find your passion and your voice, beginning from the first really crummy draft to the peculiar letdown of publication. Readers will be reminded of the energizing books of writer Natalie Goldberg and will be seduced by Lamott’s witty take on the reality of a writer’s life, which has little to do with literary parties and a lot to do with jealousy, writer’s block and going for broke with each paragraph. Marvelously wise and best of all, great reading.

“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'”

Even Hitler loved his dogs: the bad guy is the good guy in his own story


At Sleuthfest, I attended a class by Wallace Stroby, the author of ‘Kings of Midnight‘ and ‘Shoot the Woman First,’ among others. Titled “Good Bad Guys and Bad Good Guys,” he made a great statement that “even Hitler loved his dogs.”

In Stroby’s books, his hero Crissa Stone (the cold but not stone-cold career criminal) must distinguish between the good bad guys and the bad bad guys. And actually Crissa falls somewhere in that range herself. His point was that the antagonist in well-written mystery-suspense fiction must be more grey, than black. If the bad guy is a human being, he can’t be pure, unadulterated evil. (Obviously, fantasy and horror can feature non-human antagonists who love to be mean just because they can.) Human antagonists though will have some redeeming character traits, and must be motivated by a cause that they feel is just. Or, at least justified. The bad guy is the good guy in his own story.

Most good bad guys have a common element. They are so blinded by their own agenda that they loses perspective of right and wrong. Greed is always all consuming. However, a bad guy with a good motive, such as protecting a child, saving a loved one, avenging a past wrong, protecting an environment or a way of life, adds a whole ‘nother dimension.

John Hammond from Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park is an example of noble intentions gone wrong. His personality was changed from a cold eccentric CEO in the book to a more caring sympathetic grandfather who wanted to leave a legacy in the 1993 movie. Dolores Claiborne, Stephen King’s psychological thriller, features a woman who murdered her abusive husband after she learns that he molested their fourteen-year-old daughter. She wasn’t evil; she was protecting her daughter. Perhaps one of the strongest examples in literature is Heathcliff, from Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. His all-consuming passion for Catherine destroys both himself and those around him.

Ultimately, the antagonist’s desire becomes so strong and so over-powering, that he can no longer empathize with any alternative view point, and has justified his actions for that “greater good.” There’s been numerous examples of this in recent comic book movies, from Ra’s al Ghul in Batman Begins, wanting to eliminate the rampant greed and corruption in Gotham City, to  Magneto in X-Men, who starts a revolution for mutant rights. In Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, Alma Coin is the leader of the rebellion against the Capitol but has a special dislike for Katniss because she wanted Peeta rescued from Quarter Quell instead. That anger leads to hate and ultimately gets the best of her. And again in literature, Madame Thérèse Defarge, from Charles Dicken’s A Tale of Two Cities, is so committed to the revolution that she becomes a brutal and cold blooded killer.

Sometimes, evil is matter of perspective. That idea was eloquently articulated by Senator Palpatine, in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, when he explained to Anakin Skywalker that “Good is a point of view.” Dolores Umbridge, from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, is another case in point. She’s evil only by our (the reader’s) standards. From her perspective, she’s the hero. As is Irene Adler, Sherlock Holmes’ femme fatale. She is witty, resourceful and diabolical, but only when she has to be. Going hand in hand with perspective, evil can stem from the character’s history. Frank Burke, in Stroby’s Shoot the Woman First is the product of a depressed economy that encourages crime.

Stroby’s point was well taken, that often the best villains don’t see themselves as evil. Even Hitler didn’t laugh maniacally, wring his hands, and declare that he was evil.

Check out some great sites on the subject:

Villains Wiki:
50 Movie Villains Who Were Probably Right‘ by George Wales on

Seven Archetypes to create a memorable villain

canstockphoto4631531It’s said that for a hero to be truly good, his enemy must be even better. Thus, a gripping story must have a well-written, memorable villain; someone who really challenges the hero and earns the reader’s respect. I’ve been considering this for weeks as I start writing a new mystery novel, and was pleasantly surprised when I saw Entertainment Weekly had published a sidebar about Villainous Archetypes. 

In the article, they list the Archetypes as:

  • The Snubbed Sibling
  • The Femme Fatale
  • The Power Monger
  • The Lethal Frenemy
  • The Vengeful One
  • The Nemesis
  • The Psychotic  (Well, I added the last two….)

Obviously there are more archetypes than those listed, and I think the really well-written villains can cross over into multiple categories. Still, this makes for a descent start.


The Snubbed Sibling
Villains who are the older/younger brother or sister of the hero. They lash-out because of feelings of inadequacy, jealousy and entitlement toward their beloved sibling. In general, they feel less loved. Interesting to note, they are not always biologically related; some are half-, step- or adopted.

  • Cain, jealous of his brother Abel, Genesis, The Bible
  • Hades, angry at his brothers Zeus & Poseidon, Greek Mythology
  • Morgana le Fey, half-sister to King Arthur, The Knights of the Round Table
  • Prince John, resentful younger brother of King Richard the Lionhearted, Robin Hood
  • Edmund, illegitimate son of Gloucester, Shakespeare’s King Lear
  • Lore, evil twin brother of Data, Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • Scar, Mufasa’s jealous & resentful younger brother, Disney’s The Lion King
  • Loki, Thor’s jealous & resentful adopted brother, Marvel Comics

The Femme Fatale
A beautiful, seductive, but ultimately villainous, woman who uses the malign power of her sexuality to ensnare the hapless hero into danger. They are sly, morally ambiguous, conflicted between their needs and doing what’s “right” and often have a love/hate relationship with the Protagonist.

  • Salome, the Christian icon of dangerous female seductiveness, The Gospels, The Bible
  • Delilah, Samson’s lover & ultimately his downfall, Judges, The Bible
  • Circe, dangerous sorceress who fell in love with Odysseus, Homer’s The Odyssey
  • Lady Macbeth, Ambitious wife of the general with her own designs on the throne, Shakespeare’s Macbeth
  • Brigid O’Shaughnessy, Sam Spade’s less than forthcoming client, Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon
  • Irene Adler – Sherlock Holmes’ romantic foil, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Scandal in Bohemia
  • Cora Smith, Lana Turner’s unhappy housewife in The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
  • Rose Loomis, Marilyn Monroe’s sad lover in Niagra (1953)
  • Breathless Mahoney, Madonna’s gangster moll playing Dick and Big Boy against each other in Dick Tracy (1990)
  • Catherine Trammel, Sharon Stone’s novelist with a murderous past in Basic Instinct (1992)
  • Selena Kyle, Anne Hathaway’s cat burglar in The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

The Power Monger
Villains who seek to rule with sheer force or whose main goal is to obtain more power, any way possible. Nothing stands in their way. Above all else, they have a deep-seeded desire to surround themselves with control, authority, attention and self-imposed importance. Often this blinding, insatiable craving proves to be their downfall.

  • King Herod the Great, committed unspeakable crimes to gratify his ambition, Matthew, The Bible
  • King Richard the Third, the treacherous king who wasn’t very nice to his family – Shakespeare’s Richard III
  • Napoleon, the Stalin-esque Berkshire Boar who always gets his way, George Orwell’s Animal Farm
  • Virgil “The Turk” Sollozzo,  the top narcotics man in Mario Puzo’s The Godfather
  • Professor James Moriarty – a mathematics professor turned the world’s only consulting criminal – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes
  • Sauron – the dark lord who sought to rule Middle Earth – Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings
  • Lord Voldemort,  the dark lord who obsesses over conquering  both worlds, Muggle and Wizarding, to achieve pure blood dominance – JK Rowling’s Harry Potter
  • Jafar, the Grand Vizier who plots to possess the Genie’s lamp and rule all of Agrabah – Disney’s Aladdin
  • General Zod, after a failed attempt to take over his homeworld, this Kryptonian super villain tries to take over earth – Superman (1978), Superman II (1980), Man of Steel (2013)
  • Emperor Palpatine –  the aged, wrinkled-faced dictator of the Galactic Empire – Star Wars, the original trilogy (1977 – 1983)

The Lethal Frenemy
Frenemies are fun to write, because they are an enemy disguised as a friend. They lead the plot to the inevitable dramatic betrayal. He or she is friendly toward the Protagonist because the relationship brings benefits, but harbors feelings of resentment, rivalry or entitlement. Sometimes the Reader knows this, which creates tension and suspense as the hero stumbles dumbfounded into the Frenemy’s web. Sometimes neither the reader nor the hero realize the frenemy’s treachery, and then it’s the book’s big plot twist.

  • Haman the Agagite, trusted ally to the King & Queen, he plots a secret massacre – Book of Esther, The Bible
  • Judas, loved Apostle, he sells Jesus’ whereabouts to the Romans – New Testament, The Bible
  • Brutus, Julius Caesar’s friend and confident and most famous assassin – Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar
  • Macbeth, King Duncan’s general who plots to take the the throne for himself – Shakespeare’s Macbeth
  • George Wickham – Mr. Darcy’s childhood friend who is actually spreading gossip – Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
  • Annie Wilkes, Author Paul Sheldon’s #1 fan – Stephen King’s Misery
  • Dennis Nedry, John Hammond’s computer programmer who was secretly paid to steal dinosaur embryos, Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park
  • Lucy Van Pelt, the crabby, cynical eight year old who bullies Linus and Charlie Brown – Peanuts
  • Alexandra Forrest, Glenn Close’s blackmailing, stalking and obsessive Other Woman – Fatal Attraction (1987)
  • Miranda Tate, A member of the Wayne Enterprises executive board who harbors a deep resentment toward Batman for killing her father – The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
  • Senator Palpatine – the middle-aged politician of the Galactic Republic who plays both the Jedi and the Separatist Movement to rise to power – Star Wars, the Prequel Trilogy (1999 – 2005)

The Vengeful One
Villains who commit their crimes under the premise of vengeance, whether it be for a wrong committed against them or their people. The Vengeful One is similar to a nemesis, but with a few differences:  the villain may be misinformed and only think the hero has wronged him or her, or the wrong was committed by someone entirely separate from the Hero, but the Hero must still deal with the villain’s wrath.

  • Hera – Greek goddess known for her jealous and vengeful nature, most notably against Zeus’s lovers and offspring – Greek Mythology
  • Iago, passed over for a promotion, he makes Othello believe his wife Desdemona has been unfaithful, Shakespeare’s Othello
  • Abigail Williams, teenage maid who accuses her lover’s wife of being a witch so she can have him all to herself – Arthur Millers The Crucible
  • Michael Corleone – Mob boss who puts a hit on the abusive husband of his godson and makes a reputation for himself as being even more cunning and ruthless than his father – Mario Puzo’s The Godfather
  • Kissin’ Kate Barlow, Devastated by her black lover’s death at the hands of racists, she becomes the most feared outlaw in the west – Louis Sachar’s Holes
    Max Cady, a sadistic genius seeks vengeance against a former public defender whom he blames for his 14-year imprisonment  – Cape Fear (1960, 1991)
  • Pennywise the Dancing Clown, A monster that preys on the kids of Derry targets the adults who banished it twenty years ago as children – Stephen King’s It
  • Carrie White, an outcast, loathed and taunted by her fellow students, gets even at the school prom – Stephen King’s Carrie
  • Maleficent, after not being invited to a royal christening by the parents, she curses the infant Princess Aurora – Disney’s Sleeping Beauty
  • Lady Walthum – an aristocrat who wants revenge on Tarzan for killing her brother (at least, in her own mind) – Disney’s The Legend of Tarzan
  • Khan, a super-human madman who was exiled by Captain Kirk – Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1981)
  • Freddy Krueger – a razor-fingered spirit attacks the teen children of the parents who burned him alive – Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elmstreet (2010)
  • Two-Face, insane district attorney who blames Batman for killing his love, Rachel Dawes – The Dark Knight (2008)

The Nemesis
A Nemesis is an enemy that was created by the Hero’s own actions. In other words, if it wasn’t for the hero, this villain wouldn’t even exist (or at least wouldn’t be an evil do’er.) The nemesis is often the mirror opposite of the hero, and a representation of how the Hero could’ve turned out under different pressures, environment or circumstances.

  • Grendel’s Mother, the angry monster that destroyed the hall and pursued Beowulf after the hero killed her son – Beowulf
  • Draco Malfoy,Harry rejects his offer of friendship and their mutual antagonism is born – JK Rowling’s Harry Potter
  • Gollum, Bilbo Baggins finds the Ring and takes it for his own, and Gollum afterwards pursues it for the rest of his life – Tolkein’s The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings
  • Sheriff of Nottingham, the heroic outlaw steals from the rich and gives to the poor; the unscrupulous sheriff is in assiduous pursuit – Robin Hood
  • Lex Luthor – a young Clark Kent attempts to save his friend from a laboratory explosion, but the chemicals create power-mad evil genius – Superman Comics

The Psychotic
Villains who have no clear motivation, other than they are just deranged, insane or mentally ill, can be especially frightening. Their violent actions are written off to a psychotic nature, meaning there’s no rhyme or reason for the chaos they create. This unpredictable behavior creates chilling suspense. And, of course, a back story will reveal a more sophisticated character,

  • Hannibal Lecter, a brilliant psychiatrist who leads a double life as a cannibalistic serial killer – Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon & Silence of the Lambs
  • Norman Bates, a mild mannered motel clerk who stabs women to death while wearing his mother’s clothing – Robert Bloch’s Psycho (and of course Hitchock’s classic movie)
  • Bob Ewell, drunkard, abusive father who accuses Tom Robinson of raping his daughter – Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird (and of course the classic movie)
  • Frank Booth, a sociopathic gangster with split personalities who begs to be gagged with a piece of blue velvet cloth – Blue Velvet (1986)
  • Anton Chigurh, a psychopathic hitman who gives his victims a second chance by flipping a coin and letting fate decide if he should spare them or not – Cormac McCarthey’s No Country for Old Man
  • Alex, a sociopath who thoroughly enjoys robbing, raping, and murdering, and is puzzled by those who want to reform him  – Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange
  • Jack Torrence, An alocholic with anger issues becomes possessed and terrorizes his family – Stephen King’s The Shining
  • John Doe, Serial killer who chooses victims according to the Seven Deadly Sins – Se7en (1995)
  • John Ryder, a hitchhiker with a sadistic drive for killing everyone and anyone he comes across in his ultimate quest to find the right person to murder him – The Hitcher (1986)
  • The Joker, maniacal, clown faced psychopath with a warped, sadistic sense of humor – Batman comics & films