Saturday, August 20, 2005

Uncooperative Characters

Dorothy Garlock was once asked what she did when her characters took over a story, and her reply was "I kill them. It's my book."

What I wouldn't give to be able to do that to my two main characters in a current WIP. First time ever that I've encountered the proverbial brick wall when it comes to characters misbehaving and a plot not going as planned. I wanted this damned thing to be funny, and the story just doesn't hit the mark. My fault, not the muse's. Muse has actually been pretty sweet, so I fear the author takes the blame for this one. Still doesn't change the fact that I'd like to take a few pot shots at my own characters.

I think my problem was that I didn't kill them earlier, but they insisted their story be told. So everything else, as in an editor request, a co-author's expectations (the project is for an anthology with a critique partner), and my own pride, have just crashed and burned. The good news is that the editor doesn't mind and just wants a story to fill a niche if possible, the CP is fine with whatever way my mind, and I don't put much stock in nursing old wounds anyway. Life is too short to screw with what doesn't work.

I'm not arrogant enough to think I'm writing To Kill A Mockingbird or A Tale of Two Cities. Would be nice, but I seriously doubt I'll land on the NY Times Bestseller list any time soon or create a literary monument. Hell, I only last month told my parents that I write erotica. Of course, their understanding of the term is a bit fuzzy, and I'm not in any hurry to clarify for them. But still...I have my aspirations. Some days it's to simply keep from poking my thumbs through my undies of a morning or to get through an intense sex scene without jumping the mailman.

Today, I'll be thankful if I can just understand why I've hung onto this story, to these characters, if I can convince myself that what they have to say may mean something to someone else later.

Better yet, I'm hoping that they mean something to me during the process and once it's over.




At 11:48 AM, Blogger THIS! Christine said...

The beauty of killing your characters, lyn, is that the next day you can rewind (to where they are still alive) and start again.
I frequently kill my characters in many and varied painfully vicious ways. There's something theraputic about it. After we've each thrown our tantrum we can settle back down to the business at hand and tell their story. Usally (but not always).


At 11:50 AM, Blogger Dee said...

LOL, LOOOOOVE the killer kitty pic--where do you GET those, lol!

I SOOO feel you on uncooperatives. My whole book is driving me bonkers and I'm editing/writing fill in scenes. :) Let's get drunk and pretend we're done. :)


At 6:53 PM, Blogger Lyn Cash said...

thanks, X. (sigh) i so hate these people at times.

dee, works for me! - lol. i have a friend whom i've told to stop sending me mindless junk emails who usually attaches pics to her emails. at least something good is coming from them, huh?

= )

At 11:20 PM, Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Killer kitty is great, Lyn. Reminds me of Day of the Jackal. With a cat.

A college prof (presumably someone who knew his shit, right?) told me that there is only one extant quote from Shakespeare, commenting on his own work. He was referring to Mercutio from Romeo and Juliet. I'm paraphrasing: "I had to kill him off. He was going to walk off with the whole play." Or something like that.

I had the opposite problem. I knew I had to kill off a number of characters because I have this BIG story arc in mind (multiple novels). But I'd grown so attached to them, it ripped my heart out, and I felt like a bastard before it was all over. When I look in the mirror, I think, Killer.


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