Thursday, April 14, 2016
Killing Off Characters
I love creating stories and getting to know my characters as I write each and every one of my stories. From the first moment that a character pops into my head and begins to tell me about themselves until the point that we say goodbye that character becomes a part of me. Sometimes they introduce themselves months before I get the chance to sit down and develop their stories while other times they show up just as I am beginning a new project and can jump right in. For a few of them I met their figments and have slowly gotten to know them even though they are still patiently waiting for me to put them and their stories down on paper.
I think in many cases the most difficult part of character development is not the beginning but the end. Occasionally it is slow going to get a character to open up. I have one named Jessica that it can be like pulling teeth to get her to tell me anything about her. She is quite secretive but that is just a part of who and how she is so I have to respect that. Then there are others like Annora that not only are far more open with their information but almost demand attention. The best example of that is Persyphone Syntel. She captured my mind and told me her story during the drive home from a camping trip. I got to know her through and through without ever having to even try.
Regardless of how fast or slow I am to say hello to a character there is one thing that remains difficult, saying goodbye. Most often because I write drama and realistic fiction I find that the goodbye is simply because I ended the book. The story ran its course and it is time to move on to the next project so I have to close the cover and move on. In certain cases though, and more recently the frequency has been increasing, I have had a character that left because of a death. I am not well versed in killing off my characters and have had mixed emotions about doing so.
For my thriller there was a couple losses and my current drama Sharing Strength there have been a few as well. In the case of Sharing Strength the loss of the characters that did not survive through the book were needed for the sake of driving the story but also demonstrating an honestly tragic fact about our society and those living in it with PTSD. When I had to create the scene where one of the characters died I went into a personal state of mourning for almost a week. To anyone outside the writing profession that may sound dramatic and ridiculous but for those of us that love our creations as though they are a part of our very being it is perfectly understandable. I would love to offer advice on ways to do it or reasons but the fact of the matter is that some characters are not meant to survive and as the author it is something you have to make peace with if you are ever going to manage with those that must perish in your stories.