Motivation is an interesting subject. We have the seven virtues which, although not motives for murder, explain motivation for doing good. They are faith, hope, charity, fortitude, justice, temperance and prudence. We’ll find them, hopefully, on the side of law and order.
Then we head for the dark side and look at the deadly sins; pride, envy, gluttony, lust, wrath, greed and sloth. Now we’re getting into the nitty gritty of why people commit crimes. Research into stories reported on in the media found that the most common types of story involved; fear, greed, lust, power, need and curiosity. When we start to think about murder some of the most common motives are revenge, money, gang rivalry, business jealousy, deceit and property disputes. People tend to gravitate towards sex and money as the main motives but there are many more.
In the book ‘Not Dead Enough’ by Peter James a diagram in a Police incident room is described. In the oval in middle was the simple word: ‘motive’ and arranged around it, at the end of spokes, were the words; jealousy, racism, anger / fright, robbery, power / control, desire, gain, payment, homophobia, hate, revenge, psychotic, sexual and maintain active lifestyle. One of the characters suggests that two are missing; kicks and kudos. Examples are given of a gang setting fire to an old lady in a bus shelter for kicks and a gang member killing as part of an initiation into the gang to explain kudos.
So, there are many potential reasons for murder and plots don’t need to just stick to the basics of sex and money. In fact, they’re usually much improved if they don’t. Have I missed any motivations?