Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Writer's Angst: Killing off Characters

Even after 9 completed books, 2 incompleted, and 1 in-progress novel, I still cannot come to a depressing scene and write it easily. They always get me. Every damn time, without fail, they prove to stop me in my tracks.

I don't think it matters how seasoned a writer I become. I will always reach the scene where a character must be killed off and I will drag my feet. I will sit there and stare at the screen wishing there was some other way to further the plot. Perhaps there's another route for the characters to take, another action that could sidestep the inevitable.

But you have to do it. A writer has to put up her dukes, settle in for the long haul, and lay out the scene that tears her heart to pieces.

I've spent months with these characters and now I will spend one 2-hour writing session killing one off.

Sad day :(

Monday, December 17, 2012

Writer's Angst: The Sad Parts

One part of writing that I immensely dislike is how much a writer has to involve herself with her work. To effectively write a beautiful and realistic work, a writer has to make her characters relatable to the reader. She can only do this by identifying with the characters, at least in some small way.

So when I get to a sad part in a book, it affects my entire day. I drag myself down from an emotional high and focus my thoughts only on the sadness before me. I force my novel's world to become my world for a day.

It's a dangerous game. Merging fiction with reality is never a smart thing but I feel the only way to write a realistic story is by dragging it into reality.

So right now I'm stuck wishing this chapter was over already. I'm trying to rush through it just so I can entertain joyful thoughts again.

All the while, I'm remembering the idea that a writer is a god and because of that we have to suffer right along with our characters when they falter. It's a fact of reality and fiction and it's one I tend to despise.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Turns out I had a pretty good writing session last night. I was so tired that I barely recalled what I had worked on until I woke this morning and had time to look over it. It was a lovely scene of revisiting the past and recalling beloved family members.

Here's a quick snippet.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


"As humans we are instinctively doubtful. We cannot survive if we close our eyes and blindly rush into things. I think this is the reason we bank so much on seeing and believing. It keeps us safe and gives us inarguable reasons to explain the world and what happens around us. There is no question in life if you believe just what you see.

But that is also our flaw. We cannot persevere into the great beyond if we cannot accept what we cannot see. If we are unsure about something, if we doubt what we are told is truth, then we must explain it another way. And with those questions in your head, you can never exist at peace. You are shaken. You are moved. You are the beginning of a revolution.

Who knows what you'll find in that darkness. Who knows if you'll even survive. The only thing we can be certain of is that by letting go of what we see and believe and instead surrender ourselves to something more we can become a being greater than we were created as.Only by shutting our eyes and reaching out into the darkness for something, or someone, to grasp us can we truly begin to find meaning in our existence."

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Fatal Flaw

Every character has one or at least should have one. It's what brings your characters to life and in turn brings your story to life. Some characters have really obvious flaws. You know within a few minutes of meeting them what their flaw is. Others take a little more time. No matter what group your character falls under they all have a flaw.

First off, let's look at what a fatal flaw is. Essentially, a fatal flaw is the character struggling to hold on to an old mindset/behavior/temperament that has long outlived its purpose. Basically, the character has survived up to this point with this flaw because that is what life demands it. However, by the time your story's beginning comes around, that temperament has long overstayed its welcome. The character has come to a point where he no longer needs that mindset. But because he has lived with it so long he's going to hold on to it until life forces him to choose to either remain set in his ways (give up) or adapt to the changes (overcome), which in itself is your crisis (Part of story where the MC is met with an obstacle that threatens his/her beliefs and character and he/she must choose to either press forward or give up).

If a writer isn't quite sure what their characters' fatal flaws are, they should look at the goal or theme of their story. Usually the fatal flaws are the complete opposite of the goal and serve as the antithesis. For example, with my current writing project, I have three main characters. The overall premise of the story is to learn to look passed the scars of the past and see the world waiting on the other side. It's a story of learning to accept what has happened and move on while never forgetting the past. Redemption and rebirth.

So your characters' fatal flaws have to fall under this theme. Ethan, the MC, is struggling to accept his parents divorce, the death of his mother and now the death of his father, and the trials his foster family put him through. He's been scarred and his defense against the pain was building an impenetrable wall of strength around himself. People can't hurt him anymore. At the same time, people can't get close to him. He won't let himself trust people and because of that he won't let down his wall. So he becomes stuck in a rut of self-preservation, making his inability to accept intimacy his fatal flaw.

His SCs have flaws that are similar to his but in different ways. Matt, an employee at the shelter Ethan inherited, is broken in a more literal sense than Ethan. After serving three tours in the marines, he's retired from the corps because of a near-death experience. He is now plagued with night terrors, PTSD, and physical scars from the ambush. Because of this, he rarely adventures out into town and loses most of his friends because of survivor's remorse. He doesn't fear opening up as Ethan does but he does fear judgment. His defense is to put on a very energetic front that distracts from his wounds and keeps people from seeing the real him. If he is to heal as the theme of the book suggests then he must overcome these flaws in order to do so.

Addie is our next SC. She used to be Ethan's best friend before his parents divorced and his mother died, forcing him to move out of town. She is the wife of Matt's best friend Jack. Jack served under Matt in the marines and was killed in the ambush Matt was caught in. Matt managed to rush his body back to base. Addie was left widowed though. She wants to not blame Matt for what happened to Jack and tries to convince herself that she has moved on from losing her husband and puts on a very sweet and lighthearted appearance. Underneath she is full of hate and bitterness. She goes to church but blames God for her loss. She works with Matt at the shelter but blames him for what happened to Jack. She wants to be friends with Ethan just as they were as kids but she doesn't like the guarded person he is now. In order to move beyond her flaws, she has to face her fears and accept what life is now.

Once a writer has a fatal flaw the story itself can fall into place. You can't have conflict without struggle. In order to heal, one must have been wounded. It's the wounds that create scars and it's the scars that must be healed in order for a character to rise from his ashes. Thus, the fatal flaw becomes one of the most important aspects of writing.

Friday, November 30, 2012

She Be Done!

Well, technically, she be done in the sense that I have achieved my 50k goal by the end of November and thus won Nanorimo this year. That means in around 21 days I wrote a crap-ton of words and came up with a novel I love and characters I enjoy getting to know.

Here's the proof!

Ah, sweet victory, you sure are beautiful. There is nothing quite like validating your final word count and having the screen switch to the 'Congratulations, you won!' page. I know I say this every year but I am never competing again!

Until next year of course :)

Here's a quick snippet of the novel-in-progress.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Ingrained Memory

Ever have those songs that you listen to once while doing something and then from that moment on that song reminds you precisely of that moment?

Well, this song ALWAYS reminds me of driving to the library I worked at in high school while drinking Snapple kiwi-strawberry drinks. Every.Single.Time. I can't hear it without thinking of Snapple.