Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Lately, I've been trying to analyze "the darkest moment" idea in writing. Ideally, you want to really mess with your characters -- metaphorically run over their puppy. You take it all away, and have them hit absolute rock bottom before ultimately giving them their happy ending.

Danielle Steele (of whom I am not really a fan, for the record) did this better than anyone else. Which is why I'm not a fan. I hate seeing people I've come to adore being tortured. I can't stand it when their lover leaves, their dog dies, their kid gets cancer, their home is burned down, their....

Well, you get the idea.

And, as hard as it is for me to read a book (or watch a movie) where these things happen, it's that much harder to force it upon my characters. I fight it. I want their lives to be rosy. A bowl of cherries. ((insert favorite cliche here)).

I always say that fiction should be happy, because we have control. Life, real life? No control... not really. But fiction? You bet.

So, why should my heroine's dog die? Why does my hero have to lose his mother, brother and favorite horse in a barn fire? Why???

Because otherwise, the story would be boring. Dull as dirt. Blah.

But, it is still the hardest thing I have to do when I write. I love my characters like they were my kids. But, just like we must do with our children, we grow them as best we can and then send them out into the world. And we let them make their mistakes. And watch them hurt. And see them fail.

And we hope for a happy ending.

1 comment:

Devon Gray said...

Yeah, we've got to torture them. Judith McNaught and Brenda Joyce are excellent at this. I remember reading "Whitney, My Love". I was afraid to turn the page because it was so heart-wrenching. But worth it!