Monday, January 24, 2011

Death of A Character

My work in progress is progressing slowly. I feel I have to measure each word, even if it is first draft. There is a natural crawl through each paragraph as I feel my way through one moment and then the next. And I realize that the action is deliberate, even though I haven't plotted or outlined a thing. I have found myself stopping to think more than I normally would in a draft and I have willed myself to do things I have not wanted to do. I don't mean sitting in front of the blank screen (though I haven't wanted to do that.) I don't mean turning off the television and twitter and gmail, closing the door, and sinking into the old wooden chair at my little desk (though I haven't wanted to do that either.)

I mean that I am forcing myself to do things to my characters that I have not wanted to do. Just moments ago, I waded slowly through a murky scene. And I realized that I was going to have to do something really terrible. Really awful. I've been avoiding it for a long time. I have to send a character off to die. I've reached the point where I have no other choice.

I've never done this to a character I truly care about. This is brand new. How about you?


  1. I haven't had to do that yet. However, as I progress through my short story/novel, I have a feeling that I might have to do something drastic to one of my characters.

    Isn't it weird, that even though these characters are figments of your imagination, that they became real?

  2. In the second part of my trilogy, something sad happens to a character. I know that this is a whacky cyberspace book for children, but the characters are characters all the same. This had to happen and I was sad, too. If I tell you that the character is in fact a number and that I was attached to and very fond of '-2', it seems even more crazy. Writing is crazy, in a way, in that you find yourself following the dictates of the novel/characters and yet it is all coming from your own mind. I don't understand it, but I love the fact that I do it.

    It is great that you are sharing your dilemas and giving us the opportunity to contribute.

    I am looking forward to reading your novel when it is completed and 'out there'.

  3. It was really hard to kill off my first character, and I admit, I ran through all the possible ways to avoid it . . . but *sigh*, it had to happen. Our poor characters. But yes, I totally understand.

  4. Nooooo! I have done bad things to my characters, but never sent them off to die. I've cut characters out in revisions, but this is different.

    Love how you describe the writing process for this MS -- how it feels unlike what you're used to and new. That's what so interesting about writing. We never know where it will take us. Stay brave.

  5. Mel, I hope you're okay for doing it. I know how you feel. I've had to make some permanent choices to characters, not in my novel or short stories, but in some of the screenplays I've written. And, while it was difficult to make those choices, they may have been some of the best ones. Of the screenplays I've written, it was the one with the hardest decision to make, that got me closest to getting an agent. Haha. So, who knows?

    By the way, I loved SPARED so when you're ready to send pages out to readers I am ready and willing.

  6. I've never done this either, but I totally get what you're saying. J.K. Rowling said she cried when she sent a certain character off to die. There's nothing wrong with feeling attached to your characters. I think it helps, because your feelings will translate onto the page and help your reader feel just what you do.