Writing stalkers can be easy if you have the right tools in place. Learn how to write stalkers, what motivates stalkers, and determine how dangerous they can really be.
According to the National Center for Victims of Crimes, 15.2 percent of women and 5.7 percent of men have experienced stalking in their lifetime. Specifically, to the point where they feel fearful and/or believe they or someone they knew might be harmed or killed.
If you’re writing in the thriller, crime, or mystery genre, you’ve probably thought about how stalkers might fit in to your story.
How to Write Stalkers in Your Story
The stalker genre is defined by the relationship between the stalker and their victim, and that relationship drives the main plot with the typical model beginning with the antagonist’s obsession over the protagonist taking shape.
Depending on your perspective, point-of-view, and plot, you might start with a seemingly innocuous beginning to the protagonist by setting up their usually day. I say seemingly innocuous, because this typical day might lay out the spark that sets the stalker—the antagonist—into motion, dawning the plot of the novel.
Throughout the story, you’ll then navigate through the different phases of the stalker-antagonist and how your protagonist reacts to their progression.
Writing Stalkers: Descriptions & Mindset
Stalker mindsets range from obsessive infatuation to dangerous predator, and everywhere in between. High-profile people receive threatening letters and creepy fans all the time, but high caliber stalkers aren’t strictly reserved for the rich and famous. They’re just the ones that regularly make the news.
The Five Psychological Profiles of Stalkers
The Rejected Stalker
This stalker was rejected in a relationship in the past and they seek to victimize others the way they felt victimized.
The Resentful Stalker
This type of stalker is often self-righteous, yet melancholic person who are less likely to act on their obsessions.
The Intimacy-Seeking Stalker
This person feels like their obsession loves them or will love them once they get to know them, a mindset that is delusional. They often focus on someone with a higher social status, but not exclusively so.
Often an outcast, this stalker is social backward and awkward. This person doesn’t understand social cues nor the unwritten rules of dating, and rarely means any harm.
This stalker is the most dangerous. Their obsession is about sexual gratification and control over their victims; and their obsession often leads to violent acts. The victim might be someone they know, or someone chosen at random, but the predator pre-meditates their attack through rehearsals and fantasies.
The 4 Phases of A Stalker
- The Attraction Phase, which is oftentimes the first time the stalker sees their future victim.
- The Anxious Phases, which is when the controlling behavior begins to emerge.
- The Obsessive Phase, where the actual stalking begins/takes place.
- The Destructive Phase, where the stalkers entire world revolves around their victim and their world starts crashing around them.
PHYSICAL SIGNALS OF THE STALKER include, parting lips, touching one-another, steady eye-contact with the other individual, flushes features, leaning forward in conversation, smiling while looking at or listening to one-another, open body posture, bright and glossy eyes, speaking or seeking agreement of the other, speaking praise or complimenting the other, keeping mementos of times spent, constantly talking about the other person to family and friends, becoming unaware of their surroundings when that person is around, a radiant glow surrounding the in-love person, visible shakiness from nerves, rapt expression, cracking voice when conversing with that person.
INTERNAL SENSATIONS OF THE STALKER include, a quickened heartbeat, breathlessness or forgetting to breathe, feeling your pulse or blood pulsing through your veins, dry mouth, throat growing thick or dry, and a rising body temperature.
MENTAL RESPONSES OF THE STALKER include, a desire for the other person, a deepened desire to know the other person, fixating one’s thoughts on the other person, acute listening and observation of the individual, forgetting what’s around you when you’re focusing on that person, unable to see that person’s flaws.
CUES OF LONG-TERM, UNREQUITED ADORATION include, obsession, fantasizing, the belief of mutual feelings, a sense of belonging together, jealousy, stalking, doing anything to be near that person, possessiveness.
An important thing to remember is that stalkers can be both men and women. An obsessive compulsion isn’t gender discriminate, and both can be predatorial.
Does Your Story Need A Stalker?
While largely reserved for mysteries and thrillers, stalkers can be great antagonists to your protagonist if done correctly. One thing I’ve found with some thriller novels is that the stalker isn’t near scary enough to act like a proper antagonist.
You can be subtle without heavy description. You can scare your protagonist, and by proxy your readers, without them knowing who they’re supposed to fear. Sometimes, the best antagonists are ghosts until the perfect reveal, which can happen near the third act.
A few questions you need to ask yourself when determining if a stalker is the right antagonist for your story are:
- Would your plot benefit from a stalker as the main antagonist?
- How would the stalker-victim arc drive your story’s plot?
- Who is the stalker and what is their connection (if any) to the protagonist?
- Why is this person stalking your protagonist and not someone else?
- What would/does your stalker do that makes them a bonafide stalker?
- How will/does your protagonist/victim react and deal with their stalker?
Something you have to remember is that not every novel needs a stalker-type character. But if that’s the type of story your heart is set on writing, make sure to write believable stalkers with the right mannerisms and quirks.