I’ve come to the horrifying realization that I’m a literary psychopath. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you why. Spoilers. Not a literal psychopath, a literary one. There’s a very big difference. Please don’t send people with torches or the police to my door.
Most writers know that some of their counterparts, if they’re not among the sect themselves, like to kill the occasional character. It depend on what you write. If you write murder mysteries, it’s a sure bet you get to do this. Thrillers? Almost guaranteed. Literary fiction? Maybe, it depends. Write it and see where it goes. SciFi/Fantasy? The same. Romance? Um . . . not usually. Not graphically anyway. Long death scenes just aren’t romantic. (Take that Shakespeare!)
I write romance – usually – and I kill characters. Habitually, it turns out. But I don’t draw it out, except once. Well, and I have another one coming up . . . never mind. I also write literary thrillers, but that’s a new thing. Since I killed a character something like five times, I decided maybe that one wasn’t romance after all.
It’s okay, it’s good. It’s healthy. I save my emotional scenes (death, sex, whatever) for when I’m in the appropriate mood for them. When Hubby has a bad day, he takes it out on the dishes. Pots slam against the counter as he makes dinner, or unloads the dishwasher (and I shoot dirty looks to The Boy for not having done it already because it’s his job!) When I have a bad day, I calmly walk to my computer, lock myself in my room, and kill a character or otherwise ruin their life. The Lexi Frost and Thousand Words series? I’ve had those mapped in general for years. And I’ve been writing key scenes for years. I still have to write the actual books and jigsaw in the scenes I wrote a year or two ago, but the biggies I’ve got written or outlined because I was mad at someone or just really had to write a good sex scene and knew these characters hooked up at this point in the future. It’s the unexpected sex scenes I have to write now. Pretty weird for someone who doesn’t plot things as a rule.
And yet I still haven’t found a way to kill someone off by feeding them to piranha. (Everyone needs goals.)
Anyway, writing death scenes helps. It releases a lot of tension. Writing the aftermath of the death of someone from the viewpoint of someone who was close to them is even better. A lot of emotion there. (Okay, that’s worthy of the romance genre.) For those who enjoy writing, I suggest considering this as an exercise, assuming of course you have a supply of tissues on hand and no small children who are going to interrupt and ask you what’s wrong. It’s really difficult to explain a connection to a fictional character to a child.
“Your imaginary friend died?”
“No, honey, he’s not my . . . Yes. My imaginary friend died.” I killed him by having his parachute fail to open. Then his backup got tangled, forcing him to struggle with it and blowing him off course. He landed in a tree, breaking several bones. Falling from the tree, he then fell backward down a ravine where he landed among boulders and was bit by a rattlesnake.
“Yes.” It was overkill. Literally literary overkill.