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.
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