Friday, July 27, 2012

Character Ouchies

I read my first postpartum novel the other day. This:

Read my Afterglow Review here
I'd forgotten how much fun it is to read all night and get that awesome emotional pay-off at 3:00 in the morning! 

I'd also forgotten how painful it is to see your favorite main character get hurt, possibly irreversibly. It reminded me about my own personal struggle with conflict and pain when I'm writing. 

Conflict drives story, but it kills me to put my characters in any kind of permanent pain. Killing off characters is almost impossible (unless there's some magical afterlife in the story). The severing of limbs, blinding, or developing terminal illness all make me queasy, and have been the stuff of my childhood nightmares. 

My characters live the easy life. It's something I really need to work on.

The meanest thing I've ever done to a character is zap him with artificial lightning, which is pretty mean, I think. I've also shot my characters with bullets, but never in a way to cause permanent damage. 

me <--- wuss

How about you? Any reservations about knocking your characters down, cutting off toes, or giving them a terminal disease?

What's the meanest thing you've ever done to a character?


Becky Mahoney said...

Oooh. I am generally Not Nice to my characters emotionally (though I always make it better!) but in my WIP right now, I injured my MC pretty badly in the first chapter, and it's something she'll struggle with through the rest of the book. It was much harder than I thought I was going to be - I had to keep myself from downplaying it when the aftermath rolled along!

Katrina L. Lantz said...

Becky, I can totally relate. Good for you for keeping your niceness in check! :) The emotional turmoil is easier for me to inflict, but for some reason the physical turmoil frightens me. *skitters away like a deer*

Beth Overmyer said...

I actually don't mind doing mean things to my characters. I've shot one and let the wound get infected. Same character cut open one of his knuckles and passed out at one point. Oh, and he has flashbacks of nearly dying from a beating. Hmm. Everyone else has had it pretty easy. Maybe I just have a thing against that character :-P

Since I've been mostly been working on middle grade lately, I haven't had very much pain and violence. Some, but not much.

Kell Andrews said...

Welcome back to the book world, Katrina!

I'm like Beth. I work on middle grade and picture books -- the trauma I work on my characters is mundane but painful from their perspective. I had a rejection on a picture book recently that said my main character was far too tragic -- and I thought she was resilient and funny.

Ink in the Book said...

I don't do anything to my characters. They do it all to themselves. Really! It's so true.

One of my characters was arrested on false accusations and sold into slavery. She was abused and starved.

One character got himself killed.

One of my characters got burned really bad.

Oh, it pains me to see them suffer... I'm like you. I hate it when my characters get hurt.

G.B. Skye said...

This is a great question!

I agree with Ink in the Book that a lot of things are stuff characters do to themselves. In my recently completed novel, the MC did something that I realized about halfway through would result in a traumatic brain injury. It really pained me; somehow it's easier to kill a character than to let him suffer an irreversible, life-altering injury. I think that's the meanest thing I've ever done.

As for killing characters, I don't have a problem with that. I often like to know a character's story to the end of his/her life. Some of the drama llamas get multiple versions of their deaths written so I can figure out the best one. They're like actors, those ones. They like the attention.

Katrina L. Lantz said...

Thank you, Kelly! Tragedy may be one of those things that's in the eye of the beholder. :)

Lisa said...

I made my poor MC cut her leg to tally each day since her boyfriend broke up with her. Ouchie.

Katrina L. Lantz said...

Yikes! Creative characterization, though, and unfortunately believable.