There is something wrong with me. I’m writing a book – that’s not news, it’s what I do – and finishing The Thousand Words Series. Fine. And I have the prequel/sequel to The Lexi Frost Series partially finished and the unfinished bit roughly outlined. Okay. So why take time to reach into the future to (peacefully) write the death of a character that doesn’t matter anymore? I did that the other night.
I don’t know what’s worse, that I’m killing off characters again, or that I’m wasting time writing a scene that will never be used. Probably. If there was a purpose, I wouldn’t mind. Like if I was really mad, and someone had to die, then it’s a good thing it was a fictional character and his death was not in vain. But I wasn’t mad. There was no reason he had to die. And I will most likely never use that scene anyway. So what was the point?
All right, I was irritable. I haven’t been blazing through this book(#4) lately like I wanted to since I got notes back from my editor on the next book(#3) in the series, which still doesn’t have a title. That irritates me too. That working title for the genie-Lexi Frost crossover, Desperate Wishes, may end up being the actual title simply because I’m title-stunted lately. I don’t have a title for the one I’m working on either(#4). Or at least not one I like. Would you believe I actually submitted the book to my editor under the name Waiting For A Title with the proposed cover work and everything? I got a note back that I should think of a different title because that one didn’t really fit the book. Um…yeah. I got a lot of other notes back too. More than I have in a long time. That didn’t make my day, but that was a week ago, and that book barely had the doomed character in it. And no notes about said doomed character. Nothing to incur my wrath or even attract my attention. This poor schmuck is just flying under the radar and whack! – a lesson in the pen is mightier than the – whatever. There are no swords in this series. Yet. I may add one now just for the hell of it.
No, I’m not going to tell you who dies, and no, it’s not included in the next book. It’s not his time.
And it’s not about him dying anyway, it’s more about the after-effects. His death sets off a chain reaction that turned out to be … unexpected. Wow. I don’t know why, I created these characters. Anything they do is just a consequence of actions I made them take before or personality strengths/quirks/flaws that I gave them. In theory nothing that they do – whether I plan it consciously or not – should be a surprise. I know them better than Hubby or my kids. In theory.
*Hand twitches toward phone to call therapist, who will probably giggle. Upon that realization, hand stops.*
So why exactly did this one (minor) death cause a couple of other characters to start spinning out of control? I would say god only knows, but hello, I wrote this mess. I hate to go tromping on theology here, but I’m their personal god. That’s a lot of responsibility and, I should say, I’m not taking it well. Chalk it up to free will and be done with it? In life, sure. In literature, I’m not sure I can get away with that.
*Eyes phone. Reconsiders calling therapist. No.*
Some of you are probably wondering if I am, in fact, crazy as a caffeine-infused lemur. I’m talking about my characters as if they’re real and have their own will. Some of you are writers who have experienced something like this (perhaps not quite to this extent) yourself. To those who are slowly backing away shaking their heads and muttering exorcism incantations, let me explain:
No, I’m not nuts, and I’m not possessed. To many writers, characters are very real. Not that we talk to them or set a place at the table or anything. We know they’re part of us. But they’re like a good friend who moved away. Unseen but not forgotten. If we were children, they’d be imaginary friends, I’m sure.
To me, it’s sort of like watching my own private miniseries, except I only get bits at a time. Really long commercial breaks, I suppose you could say. I don’t get to talk to my characters or interact with them, so kids with imaginary friends score one over me. I watch my characters’ lives and dramas unfold, and I write some of it down. Some I edit or even embellish, some I don’t need to because they’re pretty good at getting into trouble on their own.
While I know a part of my own mind created these characters, it’s still a surprise what they do sometimes. When I don’t like where they’re headed and I try to direct the story another way, I find things usually don’t turn out well. That’s not how the story goes, so … it’s their way or not at all. (Note on that: in revisions, however, I can take whole scenes and even chapters and change it around because it’s already been written and decided, as long as the outcome remains the same. I can’t change major players, for example. If someone’s dead, they’re dead. There are simply no lines/actions left for them so writing in a great doctor and last minute save doesn’t do any good. Yes, I’ve tried something like that before.)
*Hand twitches toward phone again.*
I need to stop dwelling on this before someone else dies. I just imagined someone being bitten on the ass by a rattlesnake. This is getting ridiculous. Mostly because it was Jess I imagined being bitten when it’s more believable for it to be Dev (if you know what I do, which you will shortly). See? I’m out of control here. Whatever, never mind, I’m not writing it.
*Throws hands in the air, then reaches for phone.*