A bridge over a beautiful waterfall

A bridge over a beautiful waterfall
Nature brings magic

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Writing Wednesday - Sad scenes in your books

Last night I had to do the hardest thing I've done with this manuscript - I had to kill a character.  She's technically a minor character but she'd become as beloved to me as the main characters.  I nurtured her through her rough childhood, suffered with her when she struggled with magic, and ultimately rejoiced with her when she married and had her first child.  And then, when she was at her happiest, I killed her.

I had to.  It was needed to move the story forward, and will spur the main character (since this is his only daughter) to the much needed point of wanting revenge against the people who murdered her.  It burns and festers in his mind until those people act again.  That second time, when they wipe out what he thinks is what's left of his people, he loses it.  He'll try to kill all of those who had anything to do with the massacre.  His actions are what changes things to lead up to the third book in the loosely connected series.

But I cried when I killed her.  I didn't want to do it.  I felt like a heartless monster when I did it.  I put on my saddest song that I have access to (Who Wants To Live Forever by Queen) and I burned through that scene.  I cried along with her father and her husband as she was laid to rest.

That got me to thinking.  Is it a good idea to get so involved in your story that you grieve over the loss of a character?  Or that you laugh with your characters when something fun happens?  Is it normal or necessary to get that deeply involved in your characters' lives?

I think it is.  I love feeling what my characters are feeling, because I think it helps me portray those feelings better as I'm writing them.  I think it's better for my readers because if I'm that connected hopefully they'll be as connected by the time I'm done.  I'm investing my time and my emotions into these characters.  I want a reader to do the same.

I don't know if I've succeeded, but I do know I wrote one hell of a depressing scene last night.  I only hope that when I go back in edits I can make it punch a reader in the gut even more.


  1. Crying and laughing with your characters must be normal, otherwise, I'm in need of serious antipsychotics. Whenever I do harm to one my my children, I feel their pain. I would rather they be happy and bubbly and free of all nastiness, but who the hell wants to read that? Its the tough times that make a story worth it and, in my opinion, the fact that you suffer along with them shows how committed you are to them and the story.

  2. I think the scenes that an author responds the most to--with tears or laughter--are the scenes that the reader will respond to. I think feeling the emotions is a good way to write.

    For a reading example, I'm still sad over Dumbledore's death in the Harry Potter series. All the others made me sad, but it was his death that hit me the hardest because it changed everything.

    In my own writing, I've cried over killed characters and really started laughing when one of the characters accidentally shot a priest in the behind with an arrow.

    It's good. Really. Hard sometimes, but it makes good writing and reading. :)

  3. I recently went through this. I felt like a sadistic murderer because I really loved my character. I even blogged about it, but his death furthered the plot along. His death wasn't in vain.

    I know that those emotions you felt will bleed into the story and your readers will feel that emotion. Which is definitely a great thing. :)

  4. When I kill of a good character, or even just abuse them as I often do, if I'm not teary eyed or sobbing by the end of the scene I know I've done it wrong. :)