I was asked the other day how I came up with the idea for One Mistake and to be honest the idea of a guy digging a hole in which to bury someone was the idea I had originally. Like most of my stories I start out writing about just a small part of the story and my imagination builds on it from there. I thought about why a guy was digging the hole, then what kind of hole was it, big/little. Then it went to how I would dig a hole to bury a body. I mean why else dig a hole?
It then morphed into a normal guy is pushed to his breaking point and so believing he has no choice, he plots out the perfect murder. Murder is a drastic step that gets a lot lip service in the heat of the moment, but is actually seldom committed. Yeah sure there are thousands murdered every year in America. But there are billions of people, so in contrast, the number of murders, though horrific all, are really quite small in the grand scheme. That’s probably why it intrigues us so much.
Tyler Stone is the neighbor you say hi to as you come back home from work or on the weekend while mowing the lawn. He’s the guy you play softball with or hang out at the bowling alley with. He’s not a monster, but he’s feeling trapped, and the acceptable solution in society’s eyes is simply too much for him. If he goes along with getting divorced it will strip him of his identity and everything he’s worked for. That’s something he can’t deal with.
I then thought about how he’d have to justify to himself, the killing of his wife and after lying convincingly to himself working up the courage to follow through, he finally accepts it’s wrong to do it. Only to justify it by believing its only wrong if he gets caught. Maybe he is a monster deep down inside, maybe we all are to some extent.
So Tyler, who obviously saw the divorce coming, long before the wife actually started acting out, begins planning for the perfect murder. He reads books, lots of books about murder and studies them to learn exactly what the murderer did that gave away the fact that he had killed someone.
Tyler plans the burial site, the cleanup, hunts for and finds the perfect murder weapon, prepares the murder scene, and sets the stage to commit the crime so that his alibi will shield him from suspicion. But even the best laid plans seldom survive the first minute of battle. It is one of the first lessons officer candidates learn at our nation’s military academies. Your enemy will never follow your battle plan. You have to be fluid and reactive, and never give up the initiative, but you will always have to make adjustments on the fly.
Tyler despite thinking he’d planned for nearly everything, discovers he hadn’t planned for hardly anything and is forced from the moment he initiates his plan to reevaluate and rethink everything. The one thing you cannot plan for, in its entirety, is what other people will do. Tyler finds this out the hard way and finds himself battling through one unplanned for challenge after another, all created by others. You’ll find yourself almost rooting for him to get away with it.
I found myself struggling along with Tyler to keep the mistakes to a minimum and keep the story believable. It was challenging thinking up what could possibly go wrong next, without turning it into a comedy.
Once I figured out Tyler would kill his wife, I then had to discover how he‘d avoid making that One Mistake that would get him caught. So when it came to the ending, I simply…Oh wait…I think maybe it would be best if you read that part for yourself. That way I’ll avoid the Mistake of giving it away and that would be truly tragic for me.