The pen, my friends, is most definitely mightier than the sword and I have the ultimate proof. I have just used my pen (laptop) to give one of my main characters in the novel that I am now working on, (The Sleeping Field), a stroke. And, frankly, I do feel rather bad about it. I haven’t yet decided how severe this stroke is going to be, and again, I feel slightly bad about that too. No one should really hold this much power at their fingertips, should they?
I don’t always mean to do these things. I start writing and the darn character takes over, charging along, out of control for most of the time. Sometimes I have to rein them/him/her back in, delete their naughtiness and watch the word count fall from 50,000 to 54,500 – or less. It mainly depends on how bad they have been and for how long they have been free running. Sometimes it is just really interesting to see what they get up to of their own accord!
Sometimes I don’t even recognise the fact that they have been ‘free running’ until I’ve laid my little head on my pillow and then I’ve thought, ‘What!!’
I killed off a character in Mulligan’s Reach and then burst into tears and shuffled, sobbing, into the bedroom, and wailed to Richard, ‘he’s dead. He’s died. He’s gone.’
Richard of course shot up in bed with heart hammering and said, ‘who? Who has died? When?’
He wasn’t over impressed when I told him, merely stating, ‘well you killed him!’
But I didn’t. One minute the character was there, saving the girl and the day, and the next he’d expired. Kaput!
It’s funny how you get to know your characters as you get deeper into the novel. At the start, I find the going a bit slow and stilted because it is a bit like a new relationship and you don’t want to show your hand until the other person has shown theirs. And then when you finish the book and go back to reread/edit etc you realise just how much you did get to know your characters by the end of the book.
Something that works for me is to just write the whole thing and then go back (when I have built and lived with the characters for 70,000 + words) and flesh them out. Let’s face it, we rarely know anyone at the beginning of a relationship, do we? Sometimes we barely know the buggers at the end of one either!! But that has to be another story.
So, I am tip-tapping away just now and I have 56,000 words, as of 11am this morning. I will probably delete a couple of thousand of those – or not – depends on whom I decide wrote them, me or the characters themselves. If I wrote them they will probably be binned ha ha.
I’m thinking that the stroke will be minor. I need this character, but I also need her to be at risk of dying and consequently taking a huge secret to the grave. I need for her to spill the secret and she will never do that from a position of strength and well-being. Once the secret has been spilled, if the dear soul so wishes, she can kill herself off…
But then again, I’ll probably rein her back in because I kind of like her and I figure that by the end of the book she will have suffered enough. Be it by her own doing or be it by mine.
So I’m trotting off now to have a quick push around of the vac before the Lord and master gets home. And I still haven’t had the chucks out yet!!