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Old Apr 20 2009, 05:35 AM   #1
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Default Writing original fic, killing of characters

I keep a file card on each of my characters as I create them; and on each locale.
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Old Apr 20 2009, 05:37 PM   #2
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I keep a file card on each of my characters as I create them; and on each locale.
My only serious attempt at a novel is current nothing but lists of character biographies and maps/info on locations.

Ironically the thing that's stopped me from actually writing it yet is that I can't work out a major crisis to give the plot an actual purpose and I don't trust myself to be able to do anything really horrible to my main characters.

Although I've inflicted a lifetime of racial prejudice on my favourite character and she seems to be ok, so maybe I can convice myself it's ok.
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Old Apr 20 2009, 07:01 PM   #3
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Default Re: books too complex for their own good?

I don't keep files or outlines, but have most stuff in my head (where it gets revised as needed), with some things written down as they occur to me.

As for happy endings, I'm in favor of them eventually. But someone has to die along the way, and there must be suffering. No character whining allowed, though!
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Old Apr 20 2009, 07:57 PM   #4
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For me, anything over three chapters or so gets an outline, and if its original I'll have pages of character and world notes and maps and etc.

I'm all in favor of happy endings, but the characters better have to work for it. In terms of Pern, I admit to a bit of hypocrisy - I grumble about characters being given an easy way out (because I can see missed opportunities for what could be very interesting plot threads), but if they were written otherwise, I know myself well enough to realize I'd probably be grumbling about mistreating characters and writing AU fanfic to "fix" it. Ah well, such is the perversity of human nature.
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Old Apr 21 2009, 10:23 AM   #5
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I sometimes have to resist doing horrible things to characters. And I have mental "trapdoors" under all but one (no, Shalyn, not the one you think. He could be useful dead. Well, completely dead.) But I have to sit on my hands to avoid the easy drama.

With Pern, it depends. Like with DQ...ooh, I probably would have let Canth fly Wirenth...then killed him and F'nor on the Red Star flight. Deal with THAT, Brekke--now you're really a protagonist! And Renegades would have gone VERY differently.
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Old Apr 21 2009, 10:49 PM   #6
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My problem with writing is that once I get the story done, I don't like to go back and redo it like it needs to be done. The story is out of my head and on paper and I stop. I have one that I think is really good, not fanfic, but it needs to be typed up, gone over and mistakes fixed. That is what I have a hard time doing.
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Old Apr 22 2009, 11:41 AM   #7
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With fanfic stuff, I keep no notes. Or, very few, as in less than five lines, and only then when I need them to keep minor canon characters straight. (I have a few lines of Mrdini names hanging around for when I work on my Talent fics) I don't think I have any notes for the Pern stuff, I keep all my facts in my head. Hell, I don't even have the canon books on hand. (I've made a few mistakes due to that...)

For original stuff...hahaha. I have so many notes. Of course, the original writing is so much more fluid than fanfic writing...I create the bones of the world, and the organs, and everything out to the skin. With fanfic, you're playing with rules that are already set. But in your OWN world, there are no rules except those you choose to create and enforce.

Enforcing them can be difficult.

That being said...having gone through a few edits on my original novel, I can see how inconsistancies can creep in. But I'm pretty diligent in squashing them...I *notice* them, and remember that I wrote something related but elsewhere differently, and I specifically go back and refrence, not my notes because my notes can be wrong, but the actual text earlier in the story. Case in point, one of my characters had 3 buddies that were named with throwaway names for so long. Then I went in and added a scene--without consulting the old scenes--and totally re-vamped them and made them into characters that were much more real. Later on I tripped over the a few older scenes that referenced back to them before the revamp, and saw that they'd changed names, ethnicities, everything. And I caught it. I don't see how someone could *not* have caught something like that, not with their own work. It's just something that niggles in the back of your mind--an "Oh, I wrote about that earlier. I don't recall line for line what I wrote, which means I need to go back and actually reread, so I keep my facts in order as I write this new scene."
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Old Apr 22 2009, 12:39 PM   #8
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This is why I strongly suspect some of DQ's biggest problems aren't so much problems as that Anne did a MASSIVE rewrite from her original draft. (I wish there were some way to see what it looked like originally but apparently when her agent sent it back with "burn it" written on it, she took it literally.) On what I'm praying is the final draft of my 'pet project' novel I basically TOTALLY redid the scenario and I'm having to remind myself at times things I had planned or written into backstory haven't happened yet in this version. (Pity Shalyn, my poor sounding board, who listens and comments on things in chat as I pick at this. I swear, this is the LAST DRAFT.)
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Old Apr 22 2009, 01:25 PM   #9
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Heh, I had to move the start of my original novel around a few times, which meant I was intro-ing my main character about three times in the story at one point, before I edited it out. Very close to the "Oh, that hasn't happened yet in this version" except it's, "Oh, that *already* happened in this version". Actually, I suspect I'm not done editing it out, but I have another 80,000 words to go before the darn story is done, so I'm just ignoring the line edit stuff I know needs to be completed. It will get done, just not soon.
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Old Apr 24 2009, 07:37 AM   #10
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Default Re: books too complex for their own good?

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This is why I strongly suspect some of DQ's biggest problems aren't so much problems as that Anne did a MASSIVE rewrite from her original draft. (I wish there were some way to see what it looked like originally but apparently when her agent sent it back with "burn it" written on it, she took it literally.) On what I'm praying is the final draft of my 'pet project' novel I basically TOTALLY redid the scenario and I'm having to remind myself at times things I had planned or written into backstory haven't happened yet in this version. (Pity Shalyn, my poor sounding board, who listens and comments on things in chat as I pick at this. I swear, this is the LAST DRAFT.)

You may say this is the last draft...but is it? Really?

*****

I actually resorted to a program called "Write it Now", for all of my writing. Even one-shot short stories. It has places for character bios, notes on places, everything in one convenient package. I "tested" it for longer than I should have been allowed to, but I finally decided I liked the program enough to purchase it. It was only $55, but the organization is priceless!
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Old Apr 27 2009, 09:08 PM   #11
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Default Re: books too complex for their own good?

Quote:
I actually resorted to a program called "Write it Now", for all of my writing. Even one-shot short stories. It has places for character bios, notes on places, everything in one convenient package. I "tested" it for longer than I should have been allowed to, but I finally decided I liked the program enough to purchase it. It was only $55, but the organization is priceless!
Gonna have to try that, Shalyn. That software sounds awesome.

I outline everything- fiction, non-fic, technical, academic writing, you name it! I'm in graduate school so I've had to pull the whole 'response paper" thing and am now a bit of a recovering academic. I'll admit that I'm a little new at the fanfic "thing", but I like it. I tend to like to develop original characters, even if the overall piece is considered FanFiction due to the fact that it's setting is a world already created by someone else. I recently tried writing with canon characters, and WOW- it just flowed out of me, and I thought, "So this is why people write with canon characters!"

Although, I admittedly shy awaY from the idea of actually killing off a charActer, especially someone we already know, I do believe in putting characters in tough situations. Adversity works wonders. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.Emotional pain, physical pain, possibly both. . . I'd like to see a character in a tough situation And then overcome it- and I'm talking REAL adversity here. Losing your dragon and getting the guy of your dreams does not count.Spending 10 years as a drudge after your family was murdered, just might.

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Old Apr 27 2009, 09:54 PM   #12
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Original characters can be really interesting for exploring the possibilities of a verse, but overall I've always preferred writing canon characters.

I also have trouble killing off canon characters, but I've done it before. I do enjoy putting characters through the wringer emotionally (especially if I'm in a bad mood, it's quite cathartic ).
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Old Apr 28 2009, 10:42 AM   #13
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I can kill other people's canon characters a LOT more easily than I can off my own! No serious emotional attachment. Heck, I have a couple characters where they're pretty much spoiled babies whom I can barely bring myself to bruise. (They are, however, standing on trapdoors and can be offed if the plot ever really demands. There's only one character who has value alive but none dead.)

Physical and emotional abuse, though, isn't nearly as cruel as making them be WRONG. Just totally, utterly, wrong about something important.
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Old Apr 28 2009, 12:22 PM   #14
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Huh, I find it easier to kill off my own characters, probably because it's been the plan all along for them. When I kill off someone else's characters it feels like I'm doing something unauthorized. (Which silly because it's taking liberties no more or less than anything else in fanfic, but that's just how it feels to me.)

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Physical and emotional abuse, though, isn't nearly as cruel as making them be WRONG. Just totally, utterly, wrong about something important.
When I say putting characters through the wringer emotionally, that includes anything that really freaks them out; making realize they're seriously wrong is definitely included.

Halfway through my NaNoNovel last year I decided that my story was way too cliche happy fantasy, and yanked my characters' sense of moral superiority right out from under them. It was clumsily executed (that story needs so much editing), but I was rather pleased with the idea.
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Old Apr 28 2009, 12:27 PM   #15
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An ending should be written in blood.

I think I've killed off or seriously maimed a main character in every novel I've written for NaNoWriMo.

The crossbow specialist mercenary lost his dominant hand, the nomadic avenger lost her eye, and the mage died saving them both (a side effect more than anything--he just wanted he was, in fact, incredible).
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Old Apr 28 2009, 02:39 PM   #16
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One character was already maimed going into the books (it's kind of a major character point with hers.) One had a traumatic childhood. The Lesson of the Day in book one is really "That's nice, we all have our problems. Now suck it up and save the world."

Probably the biggest offense a character can commit with me is whining and feeling sorry for themselves and not doing anything about their problems. (One begins to see why Brekke's not my favorite.) The two and their various forms of self-pity (the "I hate you all" variety and the "I shall save everyone from my fate" kind) are getting a short boot camp in Dealing With It. Of course it helps that their mentor/sidekicks, have in one case a much more traumatic childhood, and in the other case are..well, dead. Their reward for all this? Well, they live through the book.

I'm now in the odd position of not really having anyone to kill. I offed the cannon fodder already, but I find the two villains are more useful alive. (Technically speaking. One is also dead to begin with.) Which kind of leaves me reaching for a climax.

Now, playing with other people's characters? Not a prob. If anything I like to go in and kill those who lived and resurrect the dead just to play what-if. A well-done AU is one of my favorite kinds of fic.
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Old Apr 28 2009, 07:48 PM   #17
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One character was already maimed going into the books (it's kind of a major character point with hers.) One had a traumatic childhood. The Lesson of the Day in book one is really "That's nice, we all have our problems. Now suck it up and save the world.
"

Can I borrow your line sometime to say to real people who drive me batty with self-pity?

OK, moving on. . .

I'm a sensitive soul, what can I say? I have trouble killing people, mine or otherwise. I even have trouble playing chess!(Those poor pieces. . . ) Though I can certainly see your point, Calenilly, about how putting characters emotionally through the wringer can be very cathartic. Yep, can see where it woluld be!

Maybe it's the suddenness of it. But I don't even do the long, lingering death scene very well.

Whatever, characters just need to shape up or ship out.
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Old Apr 28 2009, 08:00 PM   #18
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I have difficulties killing off fanfic canon characters. Mostly because the reason I fic is because I want to see *more* of the characters. Killing them is counter-productive to that. (Of course, I can always reboot for the next fic...but still...) I guess technically I killed off Damia in one of them...but on the whole I prefer to emotional hurt them or physically hurt them. Robinton already has scars from me, and we haven't gotten to the part where people start losing limbs...and Robinton earns the descriptor "Machiavellian".

I'm unsure about killing off my original characters...I bet I could do it, but haven't had a reason to yet.

...actually...I just realized I killed off one. But he died pretty early in the story's conception-in-my-mind so my "internal world" registers him as dead, even though I'm still writing lines in the story for him while he's alive. His death makes life very difficult for my main character. She gets put in a madhouse because her "imaginary friend" was brutally murdered in front of her. (Nobody believes her.) And then I have a loffly scene where a dragon comes and rips off the roof of the madhouse to rescue her, with all the legitimately mad people running around in fear. I will have so much fun when I get to write that scene!

Here's a question--does anyone have an "internal timeline" for your characters that differs from where the characters are in the "written timeline"? Almost all my characters in my head are at least 10 years beyond where I've actually gotten them written down on paper.

(Wow, we've gotten sidetracked...not that I mind, it's a good sidetracking...)
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Old Apr 28 2009, 08:06 PM   #19
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Ten years beyond? I know what cemetery section they're buried in.
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Old Apr 28 2009, 08:08 PM   #20
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I tend to do a lot of my best writing spontaniously, so I don't have them all planned out. I keep things open ^_^
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Old Apr 30 2009, 01:57 AM   #21
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I generally have a fairly good idea of where the story is going up until some kind of resolution (end of a planned vignette/short story/novel/whatever), but sometimes not even that far (I started using outlines because of a regrettable tendency not to have a clue what was going to happen past the end of the current sentence), and when I get around to actually writing it things are prone to change without notice (for instance, in my NaNovel, the couple that was supposed to be a brief fling ended up lasting and the one that was supposed to last ended up breaking after not very long at all). Definitely not beyond that. I do tend to have various AUs and parodies running around my head though.

On the other hand, I often have all sorts of extra information on an internal timeline when I'm working with other people's characters.
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Old Apr 30 2009, 07:21 PM   #22
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I don't have any characters that I wouldn't kill off, if it became necessary to the plot.

Of course, the only worthwhile stuff I've written lately is fanfiction, and the opportunity never arose. Except with my MC, and I got yelled at for killing *her* off, so had to rewrite the ending.
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Old May 6 2009, 09:36 PM   #23
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Default Re: books too complex for their own good?

Quote:
Here's a question--does anyone have an "internal timeline" for your characters that differs from where the characters are in the "written timeline"? Almost all my characters in my head are at least 10 years beyond where I've actually gotten them written down on paper.
Actually, yes. I am a dreamer of the first order! Once I get an idea for a written peikce, I work it out. I think it's because mental writing (or photography or whatever) is truly portable. I may not alwaus have my laptop, a recorder, or a camera with me, but my head is always attached.

I too tend to write spontaneously, though as mentioned previously, I do start with an outline. Outlines are also great for getting an idea down on paPer before I lose it, especially when I don't have a lot of time at present. It helps me to not lose my train of thought.

I have a question also. . . those that can kill, congratulations! How do you do it? In emergency medicine, this is called the "mechanism of injury". I seem to have a rather morbid interest in how it's done, how it happened. Do you do it quickly, as in misjudging a clump of Thread and winking out- and that's it? Or slowly, as in things that are too painful to write about?

I'm sorry if this question offended anyone, there was none intended.
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Old May 12 2009, 11:14 AM   #24
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I don't see why anyone would be offended. Unless one of us starts, you know, putting some sort of gory XXX scene in this thread illustrating how we kill our characters off in graphic detail. I mean, my mind is twisted enough to imagine up some gory death scene for a beloved Pern character that totally debases and demans them, but I think I'd be lynched if I tried it here! (I'd also feel guilty, since it'd be a troll of the greatest degree and I'm not a troll at heart.)

Do you mean slow vs. fast as in how long it takes to write the scene? Or slow vs. fast as in how they die in the story?

Deaths, for me, arise from the story. I suspect I favor quick deaths--I mean, if I'm killing a character in the first place, it's so that it will muff things up for the rest of the world/characters. Just get them out of the way, and make everyone else cry, and move on, you know? Quick death. Gone. Done. I'm not real good with long, lingering deaths...unless they stem from torture, and if that's the case, I'd rather preserve the tortured character just to see how messed up I can make him or her after they suffered that, so they probably won't end up dead anyway.

Although, come to think of it, it could set up a real mental screwing-over of a reader to make them think they have hope for some poor, tortured character, only to have the character die anyway after suffering through things. But that's also a good way of making things waaaay too dark.

Damn. I might just use that in one story, though, to illustrate the concept of "poison hope".

Poison hope: When something gets your hopes up after you've been through so many horrible things, and your mind says it's foolish to hope, but your heart believes anyway...and it turns out your mind was right after all. Just turns that much more bitter, hope that's gained in your darkest hour--only to be dashed. Good way to make a character suicide. ^_^
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Old May 12 2009, 01:09 PM   #25
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Default Re: books too complex for their own good?

Depends on the character and how I'm killing them. The cannon fodder just got literally ripped in half, but that's all he was really there for, to make a point. Wasn't really lingered on as no one, even the one on his side, cared except the two protagonists, and that was strictly from a ZOMG DID YOU SEE THAT point. There is one character who is eventually going to die in a quite dramatic way (hee hee) but he'll be a major character by that point so it matters. Also it's a 'handoff' scene that's part of another second-tier character's [never planned for annoys me that it happened but here goes] redemption arc, so he has to die but last just long enough to say a few words.

Ironically enough I have to figure out how to kill a main character so he can be what he is! Shalyn--I've never quite sorted out how Val died in the first place, or even precisely how the mechanics of that situation works. It had to be in a scenario where he could be killed and reborn without most people around him noticing it happened when he turns up for duty the next day.

In a couple other stories....in one case, murder is a major plot point, as are long-dead bodies, so I tend to do a bit of 'forensic porn' with lovely descriptions of the bodies and the condition they're in and all that jazz. In yet another universe LOTS of people die as it's sorta S&S but again, how long it takes depends on how important the character is.

No jerking around, though. I don't kill or let characters live to play with them. It's about the best thing for the plot. In the work that's my primary focus, everyone except one character has a trapdoor under their feet I can drop them through if I have to.
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Old May 12 2009, 08:23 PM   #26
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Default Re: Writing original fic, killing of characters

Oooh - I know how you can kill him off!

We need to talk
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Old May 12 2009, 09:38 PM   #27
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Default Re: Writing original fic, killing of characters

In my story most of the characters have magic. Most are magical creatures. They are on a mission to help Ruth find a wand, defeat the evil queen and get back home. How do I come up with problems that the strong magic users can't just magic away? It would be hard to make them not have strong magic, because of what they are.
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Old May 13 2009, 12:24 AM   #28
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Re: Writing original fic, killing of characters

I have a few idea, in my mind, at the oddest time I well come up with a bit of a twist, like something happpen to tempary take out of action, nothing real sold yet.

"Sigh" I just hope I can get these ideas, that some "pop up" so others can enjoy them.
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Old May 13 2009, 09:35 AM   #29
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Default Re: Writing original fic, killing of characters

I use character sheets, and something called "Vinesh's Guide" for my main fiction. "Vinesh" was a journalist, who got famous for writing about exotic aliens and their planets, so the guide will have everything in it from favourite foods, religions and preferred intoxicants / hallucogens to sexual preference and hibernation habits.

In Pern fanfiction I started with a dead baby and some murders - but mostly offstage. I think the most gruesome murder is actually of the herdbeast sire, "Inheritance." I've become notorious for dropping my characters off cliffs. Trouble is, the whole project faded out when I got involved with University work. Right now, I'm supposed to be writing a thesis which is already on its second extension and not going at all well.

And it's 1.30am. Goodnight all!
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Old May 13 2009, 01:32 PM   #30
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Default Re: Writing original fic, killing of characters

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shalyn View Post
Oooh - I know how you can kill him off!

We need to talk
I'm on AIM at the studio tonight.

Maw--I'll start a new thread on the issue of superpowering characters...
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Old May 18 2009, 08:29 PM   #31
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Default Re: books too complex for their own good?

Quote:
Do you mean slow vs. fast as in how long it takes to write the scene? Or slow vs. fast as in how they die in the story?

Deaths, for me, arise from the story. I suspect I favor quick deaths--I mean, if I'm killing a character in the first place, it's so that it will muff things up for the rest of the world/characters. Just get them out of the way, and make everyone else cry, and move on, you know? Quick death. Gone. Done.

OK. everyone, I have this problem. *whispers: I have to kill him. F'nor, I mean. And Canth.* And now that I've said that, I'll go off my corner and cry for a while, and then we can move on.

I've kinda/sorta/unofficially started this fanfic that is about F'nor/Canth on Earth and it's FUN to write (it seems almost to write itself), but they have to get from Pern to Earth somehow, don't they?I mean, but for the aforementioned problems with try to be 2 places at once, nah, let's not try that. Talk about a serious stretch, Pern's 15 light-years from Earth!

So, yes, I have to kill him. Not that there aren't plenty of ways that couldn't happen. So I'll try!!
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Old May 18 2009, 09:10 PM   #32
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Default Re: Writing original fic, killing of characters

Well, look at it this way, they might be "dead" to Pern, but they're alive on Earth.
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Old May 19 2009, 10:14 PM   #33
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Default Re: Writing original fic, killing of characters

Quote:
Well, look at it this way, they might be "dead" to Pern, but they're alive on Earth.
True, True. . .
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Old May 23 2009, 08:04 AM   #34
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Default Re: Writing original fic, killing of characters

I realise this doesn't apply in fan fiction (which I don't write), but in original fiction, I have always thought that if you're going to kill off a major character, give them a decent way out. Remember the death of Sirius Black in the Harry Potter novels? He was there one second, gone the next. No build-up, just gone.

OK, I know that's what happens in real life, but I found myself feeling really cheated as I read. He was a major character, and this is not real life, it's a book. There are reasons why these conventions exist, and you are well likely to tick off your readers if you off a major character in what appears to be an offhand fashion.

That said - I have had to kill off a major character, and I still get mail from folk who were terribly upset. Which of course is great news, they were supposed to be terribly upset! As it happens, I had realised the moment one seemingly unconnected event took place, in the previous book, that this character was going to go. It would have been easier and 'safer' not to let him, but the bad guys had the drop on him and - well, unless your villains cause serious mayhem, including in this case the death of a loved character, you won't convince your audience that the baddies are anything to be worried about.

I'm a wimp, and I cried all through his death scene as I wrote it (and re- and re-re- and re-re-re-wrote it), but I was satisfied in the end that he had a good exit.

YMMV
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Old May 23 2009, 03:46 PM   #35
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Default Re: Writing original fic, killing of characters

Thanks Lanen! The original thread was about original fiction, I'm sorry if I confused anyone- it certainly wasn't intended!After the Pass is over (or in my world, post-grad school), I intend to write original fiction, and it's good to not only 'practice' on fanfic, but also bounce ideas around if y'all are willing.

Giving a character a good exit is a good thing to remember all the time, whether the characters you're dealing with are original or otherwise. Death is an equal opportunity employer, as they say. So- methods, methods, um, well, car accidents are definitely out.On the other hand, going to the Red Star and not coming back is not only plausible, but just about happened.

(And then part of me is like, "Why do I have to do this? F'nor is Anne McCaffrey's character. Why didn't she. . . " OK, OK, waaaay off-topic, sorry!
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Old May 23 2009, 04:01 PM   #36
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Default Re: Writing original fic, killing of characters

Lanen - Terry Goodkind did that with one of his characters, just offing him suddenly and randomly because death is senseless and doesn't have rhyme or reason...and it didn't work there either. (For me at least).

I see why authors try it, but you're right that it doesn't work well from a literary perspective.

Death in real life is sudden and pointless and senseless...which, I think, is why we read about characters who will hopefully have a "bigger than life" presence, either through their deeds in the story, or in their deaths.
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Old May 24 2009, 05:18 PM   #37
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Question Re: Writing original fic, killing of characters

Well would that also care over to how do I put it other non people characters?

Like say a fire lizard or dragon going between for not finding the rigt person?
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Old Jul 13 2009, 03:02 PM   #38
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Default Re: Writing original fic, killing of characters

GinnyStar - probably not, simply because we (presumably) wouldn't have known the dragon or the fire lizard well enough to mourn for them.

D.M. Domini - yes, I think that's the real reason. Real life and real death tend to be pointless and random. My mother died between one breath and another, a pointless road accident, and it was utterly devastating for the family. I think one of the reasons I cried so much for my character is that he had had premonitions and knew he was going to go, and had the chance to say farewell to his son. Wish fulfilment.
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Old Jul 13 2009, 03:46 PM   #39
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Default Re: Writing original fic, killing of characters

LANEN! Don't tell me you've gone and killed off who I think you've killed off! (I have to reread the first three books... it's been a while)
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Old Jul 13 2009, 06:43 PM   #40
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Red face Re: Writing original fic, killing of characters

[QUOTE=Lanen;147434]GinnyStar - probably not, simply because we (presumably) wouldn't have known the dragon or the fire lizard well enough to mourn for them.]/QUOTE] Sorry to take so long to answer back!

Well at the hatching the dragons would have keen, their riders seeing /hearing what happen. "Shrug Shoulders"
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