Friday, February 27, 2009

Blog Chain Blatherskite


Yes boys and girls, it's that time again. My highly intelligent, well educated and overly talented blog chain writer buddies are certainly showing they have a darker side this time around.


I LOVE IT!


This one was the brain-child of recently agented (congrats) Leah Clifford (http://leahclifford.livejournal.com). Elana J was before me (http://elanajohnson.blogspot.com/) and since I am the last link in this chain, start back at the beginning with Leah for her wrap-up!


Here's our question:


What do you do to amp up the conflict? What pins do you stick in the little voodoo dolls? How do you torture your characters?


In some of the previous responses, it seems my writerly friends are much nicer than I. Can you imagine NOT hurting your characters? Well, some did like their characters so much that it was hard to do for them.


Hurting my characters was a problem for me in the beginning, but not in the way you would think. I, uh, was going to kill almost all of my characters, leaving Margaret, the MC alone and miserable. In fact, I even had her death scene at the end planned. I imagined horrible deaths.


*Sword through the gut, but it would take a few hours to die...

*Beaten to a pulp with head bashed in, surprisingly quick death, but really gory scene...

*Horrible death giving birth all alone...

*Father dying slowly, gasping for breath, in excruciating pain from poison...

*Snapping of the neck, that was short and sweet and well deserved...

*Dying alone, old and weak...


My writing teacher told me in no uncertain terms, "You can't kill off all your main characters!"


"Oh yes I can. It's my book, and I can kill anybody I want."


"Then you will not be commercially viable."


"Who cares? I'm writing this for me! And I am killing everyone!!!"


Yeah. How many of you guys laughed? Who the hell doesn't want to be commercially viable? Needless to say, after a while (I don't like to admit when I'm wrong), I had to tell this wonderful teacher that he was right and I was wrong. That wasn't the only thing I had to admit to being wrong about. That poor man got several emails after the class had ended. I may hate to admit I'm wrong, but I will do it.


So, we have established that I do want to be commercially viable. That being said, my historical WIP became a Historical Romance and I did still kill off a few characters (only three). I also learned that I can follow a formula while writing (I had to take out some of my sex scenes...funny thing about fidelity in a romance, a rape scene...he got his neck snapped anyway, and I didn't entirely kill Patrick...he still got stabbed and I still got to write my almost death scene).


Okay, so I have to keep my dark side in check. I call it my "social filter" while functioning as a person in the real world.


How about you? How dark and evil are you really? How's that social filter?

14 comments:

Sandra said...

Sounds like the romantic version of Hamlet. ;) Why did you want to kill off all of your characters, if I may ask? And do they suffer along the way?

Karen H. said...

I just stumbled on your blog from Vodka Mom's site. I love it! I'll have to think about the best way to expose my writerly dark side, but the first thing that comes to mind is lethal weather and dysfunctional families.

TerriRainer said...

Oh, they all suffered. I think it came at a very emotional time in my own life, and their world was so much more painful than my own.

I also had grand ideas that anyone who read it would be so overcome by emotion, they would cry and lament the tragedy that was befalling my characters.

I figured it would mean I was a fabulous writer.

:) Terri

TerriRainer said...

Glad you stumbled by Karen!

Living in Tornado Alley, and most people (myself included) have a certain degree of dysfunction in their lives, so I opted for good old fashioned murder and mayhem in my first novel.

My current WIP has more emotional conflict, paired with a humorous "spirit guide" with REALLY bad timing, a ghost and of course the bad guy who will kill to keep his secret. But still no tornadoes...

:) Terri

ElanaJ said...

Oh, I want to kill mine too. But because they keep doing things I don't want them to do! Or they won't do something I had planned for them. Nasty little buggers. ;) Great post!

celticqueen said...

LOL killing all your characters, shame on you! ;-) I get that urge too sometimes....I just want to make my readers sob their little hearts out :D I do refrain though...well, sometimes :D

Christine Fonseca said...

I loved this - especially "It's my book and I can kill anybody I want." I started laughing so hard my coffee buddies starting starring...GREAT POST. (I think we share the evil genius gene :) )

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

OMG you are too funny! Bloodthirsty, but funny;) Like Sandra my first thought was Hamlet, and I'm pretty sure that nobody told Shakespeare he wasn't commercial.

Skeeter said...

I liked those characters. The rapist getting his neck snapped was a nice touch but the rape scene was difficult for me dear. Hope to see your WIP on the store shelves soon.

Best wishes,

Skeeter

Mary Duncan said...

I love to create deviants, they're just so fun to murder. And tortuous deaths with lots of face-crinkling is great to write. However, I've even lost some of the good guys along the way.

I've been criticized for killing too many of my characters, but times were tough in the 18th century. I want my stories to be real, therefore, death happens. To the good and the bad.

In Double Vision, when I wasn't sure how to end the series, I even thought of sinking the ship and killing them all. After my sister told me she'd never speak to me again, I reconsidered. You have her to thank for an appropriate ending!

Mary

Mary Lindsey said...

I got so frustrated with my characters in Soul Purpose, I wrote an unconventional (and commercially unacceptable) sex scene and then killed them off. Of course, the scene was never intended to be in the manuscript--it just made me feel so much better, so I can understand your desire to do this.

Anne Spollen said...

It's therapeutic to to torture and kill your ficitonal characters -- it enables you to function more smoothly with the folks around you in every day life.

BTW, "function more smoothly" is a euphemism for "not snapping their necks in a way that is gruesome yet enormously satisfying."

Archetype said...

There's this fascinating research they've done that shows that "normal" people have just as many nasty, deviant, antisocial thoughts as people who have been jailed as criminals...the only difference is that they choose not to ACT on them. I guess as writers we get the happy middle, huh? We get to act on them in a legal way. ;-)

H. L. Dyer said...

Terri, you're a total hoot. A vicious hoot with a taste for blood, but a hoot nonetheless.