When a Character Refuses to Die

knife

As anyone who follows me on Facebook knows, I’ve been busy this summer trying to finish the ending of Protector.

It’s been a huge struggle this time around, but Wednesday was a big day as I finally finished the re-write on the final chapter of the book. And anyone who finishes a book will tell you, it’s like that runners high – you thought you didn’t have it in you then all of a sudden, your energy kicks back in and the next thing you know you’ve crossed the finish line. It’s a great feeling and the relief of getting to the end is just . . . well . . . it’s just everything.

But even as I felt that relief, it wasn’t everything it could be because in a weird twist of fate, one of the characters that was supposed to die didn’t.

You heard me right - a character refused to die.

Now a lot of people will say, “Well, you’re the author of this creation, you’re like God, you choose who lives and dies so what’s the problem?”

Normally, I’d agree with you. I mean you hear of authors who in interviews say that their characters control what goes on like somehow they are real and the ones making the decisions. Many a time I have rolled my eyes at such talk, but the thing is, and I’m not bullshitting you, I couldn’t get this character to follow my directions. Try as I might, no matter how many times I tried to write his death (I’ve chosen the pronoun here so it’s not a spoiler), the damn character wouldn’t play along. Every word was clunky, every description horrible. It was like a big fat blot of horribleness sitting right in the middle of what is supposed to be one of the most gripping scenes of the book.

Tried a different angle. Didn’t work. Tried again, trying not to trample over some prose that I absolutely adored, but still no good. No matter which way I handled it, this character’s death just wouldn’t fit into the scene the way I’d wanted it to. So I gave up.

But the thing is, this non-dead character now changes the next book, Betrayer, alot and I mean A LOT. All of sudden, I have a big complication on my hands and it changes every character’s relationship with one another. The thing this character has seen, the things he knows . . . it impacts all the major characters in ways that I’m sure I still don’t understand.

And is that okay? Am I making a mistake in not forcing this character to die an awful, horrible death like what was planned for him? I don’t know. It’s kind of scary, but I guess I’m going to say “The hell with it,” and hope it’s the right decision.

So congratulations character, well played. You get to live to see another day . . . for now.

 

Why I love my critique partner

The Bookfiend shop on Etsy.com

The Bookfiend shop on Etsy.com

Another night. Another bout of insomnia. It’s not something I’m used to given the fact that I exist in order to sleep. I don’t know if it’s because I’m still on San Francisco time or if somehow my body thinks that something miraculous is going to happen after 10pm at night, but nothing short of drugs will conk me out right now.

So in the spirit of late night inane twitterings, I’ve decided to make a list of reasons why I love my critique partner, Terry, and why she is so utterly awesome to me.

But before I do, please give her your sympathy. Somewhere on the West Coast she is in a dentist office getting her wisdom teeth yanked out without general anesthesia. No lie.

Which brings me to my first point . . .

  1. She is strong. Terry has amazing fortitude. This whole wisdom teeth thing = cake walk
  2. She is funny as all get out. Seriously. I look forward to getting her feedback just for the witty comments. Pure gold, I tell you. She should be doing stand up.
  3. She is writing a great series. Honestly. I almost wept after the first 3 chapters because no one should be that good first time around.
  4. She humors me. Even when she probably shouldn’t.
  5. We are a lot alike. Hence Point no. 4.
  6. She writes under a pseudonym. I love me some mystery.
  7. Her characters are the best. Really. I have laughed out loud, groaned, you name it, as they’ve progressed through their story.
  8. She’s my agony aunt in the writing world. Every author needs one. I’m lucky to have a good one.

Thank you, Terry. I *heart* you, darling. I hope you feel better soon. Take the drugs. It’s worth it.

xo shawnee