Julie mentioned greed to me recently, reminding me that greed is love of an object, business, or idea. I looked up the definition and it said greed is the: intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, or food. Have you ever written about greed or used it as a motive? Is there a TV show or movie or book that focused on greed that you loved?
Julie: I think that greed is an underused motive in my books. Sometimes it’s tough to explain why someone loves an object enough to cause harm, but then I think of people who pay millions of dollars for a work of art, or a historical artifact, and I wonder how they’re react if that thing was in jeopardy. Greed often hides itself behind other motives, like pride, or lust, but pure greed? It certainly is a character flaw worth exploring and exploiting in our books.
Jessie: This is a tough one! Depending on your background, greed can be one of the worst character flaws to be accused of having. I used it in my very first novel, Live Free or Die, and again in a more minor way, in Whispers Beyond the Veil. Now you’ve got me to thinking, Sherry, about how I could incorporate it in my next novel!
Edith/Maddie: Sherry, you are asking hard questions this month! I vaguely think of The Great Gatsby or The Talented Mr. Ripley when I hear the word “greed,” but my reading of the books and/or viewing of the movies is so long ago I might have the motivation wrong. I’ve used greed for fame, credit, or status in my books, for sure. As Julie says, it can hide behind other motives.
Sherry: When I wrote Tagged for Death my editor asked me to include a statue similar to the jewel-encrusted falcon statue like the one in The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett. Something that brought bad luck to all who owned it. At first I was stumped by the request, but I loved the challenge of working a statue into the plot. When someone wants something another person has it often doesn’t end well. I also loved that they put the statue on the cover of the book.
Barb: I’ve used greed a lot in my books. Greed for property in Steamed Open. Greed for love in Boiled Over. In some ways, most of my guilty parties (guilty of something, if not necessarily the murder) are motivated at least in part by greed. To me, greed is when “want” spills over to be “need”–and then “need” is used to justify getting the result using any means–including murder.
Readers: Is there a book, movie or TV show you like that involves Greed? Writers: Have you used greed as a motive? Try to avoid spoilers!
Yes! I agree with you about Ozarks! But too much greed can murder a viewer’s interest. I was turned off by the end of the season.
Thanks for asking, Sherry! Your question is spot on with my current work in progress. The valuable painting stolen by the grandfather motivates the grandson to commit multiple murders. I love the way Barb differentiated “want” from “need,” showing how the former can justify the latter.
I love Barb’s explanation too! Good luck with your WIP!
I think greed is a big one but I think that Power is also a huge factor in the mix and I think, as we see in history and in today’s world, power and greed go hand in hand. In smaller “worlds” of movies and books, they are often shown in smaller ways because of time and space. However, I think of the great Orson Wells movie, Citizen Kane, shows a perfect combination of power and greed.
Excellent point and food for thought!
This is a hard question! Greed is a great motivator for dasterdly deeds, and I have the visual of Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko shouting, “Greed is good!” Have I used it in my own books? Yes in the sense of everyone wants something and some want it enough to kill for it.
I’d forgotten the “greed is good” line — it’s a great one!
Yes, Greed definitely motivates many of the murderers in my mysteries–both cozies and traditionals.
It is a great thing to work into a plot.
Fascinating topic, Sherry! It’s a major topic in my book The Dead of Winter. I just saw the new Death on The Nile, and, oh boy, greed sure factored into that story!
I haven’t read or seen Death on the Nile in a long time.
The new film is pretty good. Not as true to Poirot was I would hope. I need to go back and re-read the book now!
You bring up a interesting thought, J.C. A lot of Miss Marple mysteries involve greed.
The root of all evil!
In the fun side of things, I LOVE It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. And that’s all about greed and what it does to people.
I haven’t watched that in so long!
I’ve used greed a few times – one of my favorite motives, because it can take so many forms.
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