Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Killing Our Darlings

I'm a little under the weather today, but tried to get some writing in. I've got Chapter 4 of BTPM pieced together -- just need to go through to make sure everything flows okay. I also need to add a short bit at the beginning of the chapter --nothing too major. As of right now, I'm still unsure what to do with the flashback that's in the original version. Goodness, you'd think I'd have made a decision by now. But noooo. I think I've finally convinced myself to keep the blasted thing, only abbreviated. We'll see.

I vowed I would get FI cut up today so I could begin work on the front end, but my body isn't cooperating. (g) I'm heading to bed -- I think this early hour is a record for this night owl. I must be hung-over from Potter mania. LOL.

Today I decided the fate of one of my characters... he/she is gonna buy the farm in book 2 of BTPM. It's an odd thing to decide this ahead of time. Right now the character isn't that likable and well, I know my job is to make his/her death sympathetic. So, the goal is to turn the character around and make you care for them. Carol said that would be easy for me, which was a really great compliment. (Thanks, Carol!) This led me to think about my process again.

I knew right from the birth of this character that he/she would play an essential part in book 2 -- and that one of my MC's would grow to depend on this person. I also knew that his/her presence would cause a lot of strife between my two MC's. I didn't necessarily want that, but knew it would be good conflict within the main story. So, how do I get them all to exist without disrupting the main relationship of the story -- i.e. Mac and Ty? Well, I went back to the mantra I've been trying to keep in mind while I revise my books. These are simple questions to help you add conflict to your story.

Who is the only ally your protagonist cannot afford to lose? Kill that Character.

What is your protagonist's greatest physical asset? Take it away.

What is one article of faith that for your protagonist is sacred? Undermine it.

How much time does your protagonist have to solve his/her main problem? Shorten it.

All from the fab Donald Maass, of course.

With that in mind, the answer was simple. Kill off the character and leave my MC completely vulnerable. When this hit me, it hit me at a completely emotional level. I could envision the reaction of my MC. Man, I found myself almost tearing up by the raw emotions it evoked. All of this before I've even truly begun to like the character. Crazy, innit? I knew then and there that it HAD to be in the book. No doubt in my mind.

I once almost killed off a character before introducing him. That would've been weird, but it's all a part of my crazy chunk method. (g)

Although I'm trying to focus on BTPM, WALKING IN SHADOW is slowly taking shape in my mind -- I'll be ready to tackle it as soon as I finish revisions. I can't wait. :)


Carol said...

Hi Jen,

Do you realize you are the third person to mention the phrase, 'killing our darlings' to me today? I have been mulling around with the final climax for FMS. Hmm, I think I know what I'm supposed to do!

It's great to hear how much you have pieced together for this new character. I knew you could do it. Just listening to your base plan, I started feeling the emotion of the scene. I knew that would happen. You made me care for that little slime ball. Darn it, Jen.

Formulating book 2 while finishing 1, is a very good sign. It helps you lodge all those loose ends in exactly the right place to hook the reader.

You know how every writer has a 'thing'? I think yours is sequels. One book is never enough for your stories. Yea, us!

Jen said...


Yeah...I love me some sequels. lol. I actually have a tentative idea for a third book in this series. That is IF I wrap up this main story in two books. It could take three. (g) That means I'd have four altogether -- if I get my way. :) At the minimum. Woohoo...let's hear it for series.

The Braeden is probably the only stand alone I'm working on. And I say that tentatively. You know me. :) My problem is that I'm too damn wordy. LOL.

And yeah, thanks for the support. I'll make you love that slime ball, Carol! ;) Glad to hear you believe I can. (g)

Oh, and I can't wait to see what you come up with for FMS. :)


Hélène Boudreau said...

Hi Jen,

I love those words of wisdom from Donald Maass.

I passed them along to a few writer friends.



Jen said...


They're great, aren't they? It's not a "formula" of how to write, but just an easy mantra to help escalate the tension, etc. I realize now how many of these elements J.K. Rowling utilized in book 7 -- really amped up the tension in a big way. :) Oh to be able to do that. LOL.

Of course, you have to be willing to use it. Not always the case. LOL.


Julie Elizabeth said...

This is why I love reading writers' blogs. They teach me so much. Even though the novel I've restarted today probbably won't have any deaths, its still a wonderful thing to keep in mind, yaknow?


Jen said...


Glad to be of service. :)


Cindy said...

Good questions!

Hmm, I wonder if Donald Maas has a how-to book?

(Just kidding, Carol!)

Jen said...