Killing Your Own Characters

As is probably readily apparent to everyone due to lack of blog posts on here, my life has been a whirlwind. Aside from the launch of my second blog Luna Elise, which features my fashion addiction, my personal life has pretty much demanded the majority of my time. I can’t say I’m complaining–I’m probably having way too much fun, but the writing has taken a hit for sure.

This used to bother me more than it does now. I have grown to the point as an author where I understand no one is going to strike you down with wrath if you don’t finish one chapter per day. I will admit, I’m still finding that balance, but I find that not leaving room for burnout to creep in lets the ideas flow more freely. Plus, it allows for more strategic planning which is a crucial step in the final stages of a trilogy.

These final stages have me asking some big questions, and thinking things through before writing. For once, I find myself weighing alternatives and unable to decide what is best for the story. This is very different to my usual “word vomit” method of writing whatever comes banging out of my mind. Right now, one of the biggest decisions I am struggling with is whether or not to kill off one of my secondary characters. Morbid, I know, but it is a post-apocalyptic story. I feel like it could use a little more darkness right now.

However, this character I am considering offing is undeniably a figure of light in the books. I think I like this secondary character more than my main characters! You always hear stories of authors literally crying as they write in the death of a favorite character (I think this happened with J.K. Rowling and Fred Weasley, but I could be just making that up entirely!). I understand sometimes it needs to happen for dramatic effect, but I don’t want the dramatic effect to be overridden by the anger I am sure readers will feel. This is the equivalent of Gandalf falling to the balrog but not coming back–this character will be missed!

Ultimately, I think it comes down to whether the character will be of importance or useful to the story as it plays out. There is a potential conflict that could use this character, but that also could be omitted. You can see the back and forth is very prevalent right now. I can’t make any decisions as of now! Perhaps this hesitation is my writerly subconscious screaming at me not to kill the character (yet anyway).

Manic Creativity

The title says it all. I had an extremely productive weekend working on all sorts of projects and releasing a lot of pent up creativity. I worked on an oil painting, started my new fashion blog (lunaelise.com for those interested), and wrote. The hours flew by in the creative zone that we artists know so well and strive for.

With my mind so stimulated by creating, Resistance was at the height of my consciousness. While out on a nice, long run, my mind tuned into my story instead of the usual jumble of everyday life situations and worries. I came up with a concept that I think is going to propel me to the ending of the trilogy. While I still don’t know the exact ending, I think this gives me another pivotal plot point to work to. I find I work better when I’m working up to some event. Actually I get frustrated at times because I want to just write that big scene I’m leading up to–and I want to write it now!!

This pacing might be the biggest lesson I have learned as a writer. In my writer’s block times, I would get frustrated plodding through these leading up moments, just wanting to get to the events already. Then I would lose patience with myself and my willpower went down the drain thinking of the at the time insurmountable amount of work I had to do to convey the exciting story in my head.

However, if this weekend is any example, I’m able to take on any task. Perhaps I just need to focus my creativity a bit more efficiently so I can balance all  these different endeavors. So I’m approaching this week with the goal of finding balance–I hope you all have a peaceful and balanced week as well.

Organizing

I just made a list of the key points I have to wrap up to finish the Capacitance trilogy. There are 14 of them (so far), the last one of which being “The state of the world.” So that’s intimidating; cue me running away from my computer, never to write again. Just kidding–maybe.

The other 13 points are a bit more doable. Most of them are comprised of characters. Obviously I will have to tie up Mara and Runey’s story lines as well as all the secondary characters. I listed some tertiary characters on the list as well. At this time, I am not sure how relevant they will end up being to the endgame of my story, but listing them was more of a device to remind me what tools I have in my toolbox, so to speak.

Time for a little writing secret. I didn’t figure this out until basically just now (embarrassingly enough). Employing characters you’ve already introduced to come into plot play down the road makes you look like a genius-level author. Look at J.K. Rowling–that tiara from the Sorcerer’s Stone comes out of nowhere as a horcrux in the last book. Was she planning this all along or did she come to a point in her story where she needed a horcrux so she plucked one out of the existing scenery she had created? We may never know, but in my case it would have been the latter situation. You should all know by now most of my writing is improvisational, so characters, settings, actions all spew out of their own accord. Now that I’m nearing the end of the trilogy, I have the luxury of flipping back through these characters and scenarios I have created and deciding how best to use them. That obscure character from midway through Capacitance? Maybe she will come back and play an intrinsic part in the resolution of the trilogy, leaving readers to wonder at my strategic placement and planning (ha!).

To summarize, I think using this strategy will help me organize my thoughts, discover new creative ideas and ultimately give a well-rounded feel to the trilogy as a whole. Time to go crank out some exciting installments!