Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Flip Side of Falling in Love

Yeah, so Monday's post was about falling in love with your characters, and I admitted I typically fall in love with the male protagonists in my books. But that's because I create them to attract my female MCs, who in turn wind up feeling like my closest friends or even family.

All this love is a good thing we decided because it keeps us engaged in our stories...

Now here's the problem: Because I love them, I never want my MCs to get hurt. Or to suffer. And like my actual friends and family, I try to protect them.

And I've been zinged for it by crit partners. "This one should suffer more/longer," they say. Or JRM says something like my writing will only improve if I can get over this. JRM is also a huge Stephen King fan, whereas I am not.

A while back in this post (link) I wrote about how I'd gotten this idea for a new story that was different from anything I'd ever written. It was dark and velvety and wouldn't end happily. (Remember that?)

Well, here we are. I'm in that story and female MC is up against a really nasty character. So far I've gotten her out of every close call with him. But he's coming back now.

She has a plan for dealing with him, and I want her to succeed...

But it doesn't really make sense for her to succeed. She's only 17 and inexperienced in what she's planning to do. She's also pushed away one person who could help her and has the other completely in the dark. Still, if she's successful, I'm afraid it would feel like one of those deus ex machinas.

So I'm sitting here trying to get her out of it. Alternatively, I'm thinking of a way to make really nasty villain suddenly have a change of heart...

That doesn't work either.

Maybe her fellow can get wind of what's happening and swoop in and save her... Ho, yeah. I'd get zinged for that one too. I know.

So that leaves me with hurting her. Ugh! I don't like it at all. Then I think, I'll just put this one away. Or scratch it all out and forget about it. Let her ride off into the sunset with male progatonist and pretend there's no evil in her world. Disney.

And anyway, who says I have to write something completely different?

Mbrrr...

So tell me, bleeps: you guys ever been here? Written yourself to a place you didn't like? What did you do? Go with it regardless? I'll take any advice ya got.

In the meantime, I'm just over here thinking about it. Monday, hopefully a book review. Til then, have a great weekend~ <3

24 comments:

Matthew Rush said...

It is tough. I have trouble making my MC suffer enough too, but it has to be done, otherwise where's the conflict?

Rayna M. Iyer said...

Never been in that situation, so cannot advice, but it seems like there are only two options you have- either ditch the MS completely, or send the kids over to grandma's place get the hubby to go whatever he likes doing for a few days, put on a nasty hat and just do what has to be done.
Because if you don't, you may as well not waste time finishing the book.

The advice may or may not be useful, but a huge hug will be. *hugs*

Candyland said...

Well I'm a bit sadistic. I like to put the characters through things. But when I get stuck, I take a really long break away and come back to it when I know what needs to be done.

Jen Daiker said...

We've talked about this before, but I'll still leave a comment sharing my view.

I'm like Candyland, addicted to the torture! I know they'll make it through so I don't bother worrying about how much pain and suffering they go through. I mean I write from a view of a serial killer in one... kinda gotta be into the whole killing without remorse (I don't kill in real life, this is in a BOOK, just want to clairfy)

I know you CAN DO IT!

Jessica Bell said...

Yep! It's happened to me. I scrapped it, then later down the track picked out the bits I liked and turned it into a poem :o)

Hart Johnson said...

Okay, look at it this way: what doesn't kill us makes us stronger, yes? Do the really rotten thing, but have it give her a LESSON that she can then turn back on the bastard later, so it ENDS UP being a hard lesson she needed (and therefore nice, but in a really backward way)--it becomes something that strengthens her, while giving the book one of those twists I like *winks*

Patti Struble said...

I am currently in the midst of causing emotional pain at every escape route. However, I had a moment this week where my male protag had to make a decision - pivotal to his inner workings, values, beliefs & to his relationship with the MC. So, I went to the hubs & said what would you do given these 2 options? When in doubt, I like to throw it out to the faithful crew & see what comes back. Good luck wrenching their hearts out.
Patti

Dawn said...

Sadly, I've spent too much time with thriller writers who pushed me to "hurt" my characters so much that my agent suggested I scale back the suffering "just a little."

DEZMOND said...

I believe that if you don't want your hero to suffer than you shouldn't make him suffer just because readers tells you so. I've been hearing a lot about this around the blogosphere, how young writers tend to write in order to satisfy readers. But true art isn't done like that. You should pour out of you what your heart tells you, not what the market expects. This is what actually creates original and unique books instead of the same ones over and over.
Off course, this all counts only to those writers who have natural talent and who were born to write not to those who take writing just a another craft :)

Carolyn Abiad said...

Get Rayna's hat of doom and get to work! They have to suffer for us appreciate the victory. No way around it, I'm afraid. (You knew I was going to say that.;))

LTM said...

I know you're right, Matt. sigh. I just still want to write her a magic escape hatch every time... :D

Rayna, I liked your logic about how we don't hurt our characters, we chronicle what happens to them. yes, I like that... ;p ((hugs))

Canday, you are the godfather. Godmother, I mean...

It's so funny to think of you being evil, Jen. I guess that's your alter-ego, yes? The not so sparkly Jen... :D

Jess, you're so much better than me at poetry. I bet you could sing it, too. :D

You know, Hart, I'm thinking this could possibly set up a sequel. No lie. So bring on the bad stuff! And yes, you were one of the tough love voices... :o) <3 U~

LTM said...

It's hard, Patti! Isn't it? So jealous of you having an entourage to interview. I suppose I've got you guys...! :o) <3

Dawn is a superstar! :D And the total opposite of me. You + me = 180 degrees! But that's cool. I suppose I'll be less gunshy next time. :o)

I agree, Dez. I don't like meanness just to be mean, and this isn't the case here, which is nice. But I agree. You shouldn't do it just to do it. Bravo~

You're right, C! The suffering makes it real. And in this case, that's definitely what's happening. If I keep bailing her out, it loses emotion. sigh. :o\

Clarissa Draper said...

This is how I view it: Sometimes our parents let us go through our problems because they want us to be stronger. I think we're like the parent, we need to be strong for our characters and let them grow and learn. It's probably work out in the end with a little guidance.

CD

Carole Anne Carr said...

Sounds interesting, and I'm sure you'll come up with a solution if you keep experimenting with other possibilities, that's half the fun... :0)

DL Hammons said...

I probably could do more to my characters...but instead I'll wait for the next book. Watch out then suckers!!!

Pk Hrezo said...

Ooo, i missed your post yesterday. I totally fall in love with my male characters too. I miss them when I'd done writing the first draft... it's like that feeling of falling in love that you can never feel again once you get married. Maybe that's why we love to read romance so much.. to get that feeling again.
Anyway, it's taken a lot of work to inflict hurt on my MCs too. Just like they're friends, we don't want then to go thru the bad stuff. However, it's only when confronted with the bad stuff, that the true spirit of the character is revealed. The essence of who we can be as human beings. True character

LTM said...

and you know, C., that's just what happens here. Sort of. At least that's what another character tells her when she's through it...

It's so nice reading your comments Carole Anne! I agree, it is part of the fun. At least if I'm suffering, I hope some of the readers are feeling it! :o)

DL, you are crackin me UP! :D

It is nice to fall in love all the time, PK--you are SO onto something there. You are so right. That's how we see who they really are--how they deal with it and who they are after the fact.

Good stuff here! :o)

Ellie said...

Haven't been in your shoes, but I say go with it. She is strong, she can handle it, give her a chance and see what happens. If you aren't thrilled, then okay, tuck it away til you find a different path to follow. A nervous breakdown, a coma
a.... could all lead her to believe this situation is real, but not...
xXx

A Pen In Neverland: Angela Peña Dahle said...

Well, everything everyone here has said is GREAT. I will add

"Go to the mattresses."

Prepare her for battle even if you have to introduce another character. Someone who has been watching form the sidelines maybe?

Have her fight till she's got nothing left, even if it doesn't work out for her. I feel that is what I'd do. Of course, you don't have to.

Be a punk and leave a twist in there. Or at least let me imagine you will. ;)

LOL.

A Pen In Neverland: Angela Peña Dahle said...

Introduce a bit of gumption on the MC's part that changes the story. OR flip things...make the risks appealing to her regardless of experience.

LTM said...

Did it, Ellie, and actually, that was part of the process. Discovering her strength. Now I'll hear what the beta fish think~ :o)

Yes, Godmother--to the mattresses we went. :D now it's marinating a bit before I go back and see what I think~

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

My current WIP is the first story where I've really made my MC suffer. The MC's love interests too. Even side characters are suffering horribly.

I think it's the best story I've written.

I think getting past that is tough (I agonized about 4 months over one scene, I swear), but once you do, you'll see how much story you can tell when you allow the suffering to happen and then say to your MC, "So. What are you going to do about it?"

RaShelle said...

Hi Leigh - I'm one of those that enjoys torturing her MC, but wants things to end somewhat happily. I guess that's formula, although I don't want to see the end coming. A unique way is great.

Kirthi said...

I'm like RaShelle, I want to put my characters in hell, because with great pain comes great strength and endurance!