I killed one of the characters in my novel.
(It was more like two, but I have no qualms about the second one.)
I came up with a death scene I really liked and just had to use it, so someone had to “go.”
I’m still not sure if it was in the best interest of the story, or if I’m just stuck on having to use a particular description.
As I reflect on the sequence of events and the wording, and debate the character’s fate; to live or not to live? I think about language in general and the nuances contained therein.
The English “goodbye”, like the characters in a book, can be so finite. Here today, gone tomorrow.
In contrast, parting words in other languages encompass a world of possibilities of that which is yet to be experienced. Whether it’s, auf wiedersehen in German, arrivederci in Italian, or hasta luego in Spanish, each expresses the probability, and the hope, that we will meet again. Even the Japanese rarely use sayonara, unless it really is “the end.”
In life, as in writing and in reading, I prefer the meanings that other languages provide for that interim we call separation. And I would like to think that the characters we create in our imaginations, that eventually inhabit the pages of a book, continue on, not only in our own minds, but in the minds, and perhaps the hearts, of our readers.
So, if I must terminate one of my characters, I’ll think of them as an old soldier who has faithfully served, and comfort myself with the words of General Douglas MacArthur.
“Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.”
And I realize that no matter how wonderful a story may be, as we grow and change, some of the characters we loved best as writers and readers do fade away and/or are replaced by others.
But, they never really die.
We meet them over and over again in the ways they have touched us and changed us, and have made us different and maybe, even better, for having met them.
See you next time on August 22nd.
Manager, Educator, and former High School Social Studies teacher, Veronica credits her love of history to the potpourri of cultures that make up her own life and to her upbringing in diverse Brooklyn, New York. Her genres of choice are Historical Fiction where she always makes new discoveries and Children’s Picture Books because there are so many wonderful worlds yet to be imagined and visited. She currently resides in Macungie, PA.
I read a lot. I devour books of all genres – Indie and traditionally published, new and old. I need to know what’s selling, what’s succeeding and what stories are breaking through the competition to become a hit (and I really love to read!). There are lessons to be learned in every book I read and those lessons always make me a better editor.
Lately I’ve seen a trend toward ratcheting up the level of tension. It’s not just serial killer thrillers where the plot is structured for the loudest ticking clock; I see it in every genre. There’s more than a clock ticking, there’s a nuclear device with a very short fuse. And the fuse is lit from page one on. Some of these tales are wound so tight I nearly get an ulcer fretting my way to the solution. It leaves me exhausted (entertained, but exhausted), and leads me to consider the element of tension.
We all know that tension is a required element of every story. It’s what draws the reader into an emotional engagement with the tale. Conflict and tension go nicely hand in hand but conflict alone doesn’t create tension. You need that emotional investment in the character’s fate so that the reader cares about the outcome. Tension is about anticipation. Phil and Philly flirt. What will this lead to? Will this bring out the monster in Philly’s father? Will Phil leave Dotty for the long legged Philly? What if Dotty won’t let go easily?
We care because you’ve created characters that resonate with the reader, characters worth rooting for. We need to know what happens. It’s the anticipation that draws us on. A conflict is just a conflict – two opposing forces on a collision course. Not very exciting unless it’s infused with an emotional content that makes us care about the outcome of the clash. And with well-drawn characters a story is richer with several elements of tension. Tension can be anywhere and everywhere – between characters, within a character himself, with the outside world. There are enough possibilities for an element of tension in every scene and that’s a great tool for moving the story forward.
But that golden element requires balance. The suspense created by tension should ebb and flow or you’ll burn the reader out. Down time from tension allows a place to let the characters develop further, build on the setting or background, weave in foreshadowing. Let the moments of tension grow in intensity as the story progresses until it stand shockingly tall as the blockbuster needed for the climax. Bring your reader along for the ride without always creating the need for a stiff drink.
With a BA in Anthropology and English I pursued a career in advertising and writing and segued into developmental editing. It was a great choice for me. I love the process of creating and am privileged to be part of that process for so many great voices — voices both seasoned and new.
I’ve worked on nearly 400 books over 20 years, books by noted authors published by New York houses including Penguin, Kensington, Pentacle and Zebra as well as with Indie bestsellers and Amazon dynamos. From Air Force manuals and marketing materials to memoirs, thrillers, sci fi and romance, my services range from copyediting to developmental coaching.
Having worked in advertising and marketing, I am always cognizant of the marketplace in which the author’s work will be seen. I coach for content and style with that knowledge in mind in order to maximize sales and/or educational potential. My objective is to help the author’s material stand out from an ever more crowded and competitive field.
This last week, I took a Facebook for Business Made Easy 5-Day Challenge led by Sherri-Lee Woycik of Social Media Minder. It was wonderful, intensive, and my Facebook pages have never seen so much activity!
One of the lessons involved boosting a post from your Facebook page. I was able to successfully boost one post at my Lyndi Lamont Page. (I’m always happy to get new likes and engagement. Hint, hint.)
Then I tried to boost one from my Linda McLaughlin page. This is what the ad looked like:
Seems pretty straightforward, right? Easy question plus two images. Should be a no brainer.
So when it wasn’t approved, I was surprised. I delved into why FB found the post unacceptable and got this mind-boggling answer.
What the heck?
After Sherri-Lee got done laughing, she explained that the ads are checked by bots, not real people. Apparently the bot is somewhat color-blind since it seemed to mistake my sunrise for naked skin, and the clouds surrounding the moon for cleavage? Or something like that.
So much for artificial intelligence, LOL.
Needless to say, I sent an appeal and I’m waiting for a human being to get around to looking at it.
Also, I’m participating in the Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale through July 31. Rogue’s Hostage and Lady Elinor’s Escape are now half off at Smashwords through July 31. Don’t forget to use the code SSW50 at checkout.
Hope you’re having a great summer. Mine has been hectic and productive as well as fun.
aka Lyndi Lamont
1.Stop Reading: After a long day of writing, the last thing you want to do is pick up someone else’s book – do it anyway. It will help you relax and keep you motivated – not to mention you might pick up a few literary tricks along the way
2. Rely on Inspiration: Inspiration is a contact sport. Pound the keys, search the web for topics that are compatible with your story, be proactive about inspiration.
3. Veer From Your Genre: So you want to write the first science fiction, erotic, mystery, romance? Don’t do it. If you want passionate and engaged readers make sure your book can be defined.
4. Get Boring: If you’re bored writing your book chances are that your readers will be bored reading it. Take your book to the top and then go over it. Conflict moves stories.
5. Default to Perfection: Men are fearless, women are sexy and everyone is just too cool for school. Readers want to relate to your characters – imperfections, shortcomings and all.
6. Lose the Through Line: Remember what story you’re writing. If you started out writing about a girl torn between her family and a soldier she loves, don’t go off into political discourse about war.
7. Be Afraid to Cut, Cut, Cut: Cut close to the bone and let the reader see the skeleton of your book instead of burying her in unnecessary description or dialogue. Let a reader’s imagination fill in the rest.
8. Throw in the Towel: The easiest thing in the world is starting a book; the hardest thing is finishing one. The cool thing is that you can do it with just an ounce more determination and patience. Yes, an ounce.
9. Don’t Do it Alone: For some writers a critique group works. For others it’s one trusted voice cheering them on. Writers may live with their fictional characters, but they thrive with a friend(s) who believes in them.
10. Beat Yourself Up: The book isn’t shaping up the way you want? Someone read a chapter and didn’t care for it? Feel like jumping off a cliff? You can spend your time beating yourself up, or beating the keys on your computer. Beat the keys and show the world what you’re made of. We’re all waiting for your book.