Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Killing Characters

I have to ask myself why my characters seem to run full steam in demanding their stories be written when my life is getting ever busier. I have other things I need to do. Weeds need pulled from gardens and trimmed around trees. I have mulch to spread, meals to cook, and laundry to do but my characters don't care. They muddle my mind until I'm left with no choice but sitting down with my laptop and racing through chapters of scenes. I suppose that should be a good thing considering the book I was stuck on and seriously considered tossing in the trash is the very book I'm over half way through now.

At some point in reading through the books I have written, it occurred to me that I was avoiding writing Revenge of the Gods because of something that has to happen in it. In most of my books, the plot is open for twists and turns but in Revenge of the Gods, two major events have to happen to torture the main characters and put them on the paths that carry them into the books I have already written (book three and five of the series). My daughter convinced me not to ditch Revenge of the Gods saying that what happens in it is needed to make the following books even stronger. She isn't wrong. But I hate writing such painful scenes.

I had to create a character that becomes very important to a main character's personal growth. Without giving too much away, I'll say this: I had to create this character knowing the life would be short and have a very violent end. That is what held me up - I couldn't write a character I didn't like, but I didn't want to kill a character I did like. It's like killing off a dear pet, especially since this character and the story situation grew to bring up painful memories in my own "real" life. I didn't do that on purpose - not consciously at least - but that's how it happened. And for twenty-four hours after I wrote the terrible scene I felt lost and depressed just like my surviving main character. But I managed to wax my car while I tried to recover from the tragedy.

My best friend always told me I was good at getting into people's heads. To put it simply, I can empathize with people I meet and with the characters I create. I like to think that is what helps me make my characters so dynamic and likeable. But—darn—it kills me when I have to kill one of them. In the back of my mind I'm screaming - SAVE HIM - and I could easily do it, but then my main character wouldn't have a reason to dive down a completely different path she chooses because of it and the third book would make no sense.

So, tonight I will return to my laptop to write the final scenes of Revenge of the Gods knowing they'll be very hard and sad and I'm glad I'll be alone so no one will see me bawling. And I'm glad I'll be able to go right into proofreading Starlight and Judgment to pull the character and myself out of misery.

So there's your hint - I promise to try to get the two books out as close to each other as I can to ease the sorrow...

No comments: