IWSG POST 16: To Kill or Alter Favorite Characters for the Worse? What Do You Do? #IWSG
[I wrote this post as a member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our worries and also offer support and encouragement to each other on the first Wednesday of every month. If you’re a writer like me and you’re looking for a bit of support, you can click the link and sign up here]
Back in the late 80’s I was a seventh grader in a middle school in Wichita, Kansas. Bound and determined to read some of the classic books, I checked out Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.
Four sisters sounded great. I didn’t have any at the time. At that point in my life I was yearning for some sort of family structure.
I devoured the words and the characters right away. Jo was my favorite and I found myself rooting for her. She’d get the boy. She deserved it, I thought. But as I continued to read on, the boy fell in love with the super sweet sister and I closed the book. I couldn’t bare to read on with my own heart broken for Jo.
I’m writing about Little Women today to illustrate the impact of the rule, “Kill Your Darlings.” It’s the rule I picked to answer this month’s IWSG question: “What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?”
My answer came from an article straight out of Writer’s Digest, “7 Rules in Writing You can Ignore.”
I can ignore this one? I think I threw my head back, both hands in the air and yelled out, “Finally!”
I desperately dislike when bad things skew my favorite characters in such a way, there’s no turning back. I see the outcome two ways. 1.) The character will probably never recover; and 2.) I doubt if I will either. There is a strong difference in placing one’s champion in a really difficult spot, one where you bite your nails and desperately pray, “please, you’ve got to get out of this. I don’t know how, but get out of this now.”
I want to believe in hope.
Because sometimes, that’s all you’ve got. And maybe this is my insecurity. I’m not sure if I am made to kill a character I’ve tried to breathe the best of themes and life into. How about you? What’s your take on killing off your favorites? Ever had a book you stopped reading because you didn’t like the character outcome?
First writing workshop is done. The Agent Query and the First Five Pages. I hope to post some tips of what I have learned later on this month. I also made it through the edits of my working manuscript with one chapter to go! I’m excited! I found a great book called “Revision and Self-Editing: Techniques for transforming your first draft into a finished novel,” by James Scott Bell, to help me.
Stay tuned for the 20th too, I’ll be posting something really fun from my kids and myself. We did a great writing project together. It was so much fun 🙂
You all are amazing! I appreciate your time and attention.