Character Assassination

It’s about to get ugly.

I’m writing this latest draft and the good news is, I feel like I’ve nailed my antagonist.   I’ve set him up to be a true villain, a sociopath with tidbits of dark history scattered about in his chapter, information I can use later to show why he is like he is.   I’ve enjoyed creating him, even though he’s one sick puppy without a smidgen of remorse for some of the things he does, and will be doing.  I’ve got dastardly deeds laid out for him that won’t win him any points with readers, but hopefully he’ll make for some page turning excitement.  I’ve started the book with him, and his brother, and they don’t waste any time getting things jump started.

Now, I’ve moved on to chapter two, and the main character, my protagonist.    She’s the one that, as they say, needs a good killing, except, I’ve done that to her multiple times already.   The problem with her is…, I can’t seem to NOT make her BORING.   She’s a “good girl.”  She stayed at home to help her parents out, took on  a full time job, and…well, there you have her.  This beginning seems too blase, too vanilla, with no sprinkles even.  I’ve finished her chapter, and, granted, I feel there are SOME good things in it, yet, I don’t feel the essence of her has come out.   I’m not hearing her voice –  not like with Mr. Badass.

Which brings me to an internal dialogue about my own psyche.  How can I  get sooooo into creating him, and then when it comes to creating the good person, I can’t find much of anything intriguing to say about her?   Are good people boring overall?  No, not necessarily.  (well maybe ME – considering my last post)

Bottom line, I know she’s got to be up to par with him.  She’s got to be a proper partner, the sort that makes reading three hundred and fifty to four hundred pages fly by, like no time at all.

In fairness, it’s not her character per se, it’s her beginning in the story.  I’ve got some intriguing quirks planned for her, that will eventually come out and make her more interesting, but first,  she needed to be introduced to the reader.  I’ve got to work harder I think, to make her stand out, or stand on her own, as strongly as my bad guy.  But, I don’t yet have the nerve to kill this particular version of her off and start over, once again.  If what I have can solidify her in a reader’s mind, good.  But, if I feel like I’ve failed in doing that, then, I guess it means the big DELETE key for the majority of her pages.

You know,  character assassination, writer style.  It won’t be the first time I’ve knocked her off.

My question is…,  have you ever “killed” your main character, (over and over) in order to make your story work?


COMMENTS

  • Averil Dean

    July 28, 2013

    Reply

    Well, yes. But usually when I kill off the protagonist it’s because I’ve nixed the whole story. More often I just flounder around for a while until they gradually become more interesting.

    • donnaeve

      July 28, 2013

      Reply

      Yep, that’s me. Floundering away over here! At least I’m having fun doing it. I think.

  • harryipants

    July 28, 2013

    Reply

    Have I ever killed my main character off to make a story work?

    Maybe.
    I found this writing group, so I call the number and the lady’s nice and says, meeting’s in two days, bring 600 words , the start of a crime or thriller story.
    Okay. I don’t write that stuff, but when in Rome.
    Well, it wasn’t in Rome…I wish.
    So I write my 600 words, and I have to read it out loud to the group. To tell you the truth, I don’t like scary, and this character, he kinda scares me. I’m thinking he’s a serial killer, although we haven’t found that out yet, not in the 600 words.
    And this lovely old dear sitting next to me, she’s about 90, sharp as a tack, she leans across to me a bit later, shakes her head slowly and sadly, and says, that guy of yours, he’s a nasty piece of work.
    So I hide him in a drawer, him being scary and all, but a year later he kind of escapes, and I start writing him again, and it’s him alright, he’s one screwed up dude, except he’s not, he’s a child, and some beautiful and some terrible shit’s going down, and the story that’s coming together is his, and he’s a mean fucker, does some bad shit, but he’s no serial killer, and yeah, he’s a bit different to that original him, but he’s not, and the story seems to be working.
    The point being, your character, she you’re dissatisfied with, is fine. You may need to go back, back to a hidden place, where that thing happened — she’s blocked that out, obviously — oh, but it’s there, in her past, and she won’t like you looking, but I bet, when you get close, she’ll get mighty creative at hiding it and mighty pissed off with you for looking, but it will be there, and you’ll know then how she got the fuck into that screwed up story she’s calling her life.
    Hunt her down — she’s not who she wants you to think she is.

    • donnaeve

      July 29, 2013

      Reply

      This was one hell of a good comment, harryipants – aside from the fact the voice here in your writing is so clear, but it’s just a good character “story” too! I sure am glad you’re here, commenting on this blog.

      I love this idea of “hunting her down,” and that “she’s not who she wants you to think she is…” I was twisting in the wind this morning about her, (well literally twisting too since I was doing yoga) and I kept thinking about her childhood. Which at the moment is virtually non-existent since her story just started. Maybe something there…or early teens. I don’t want to take the typical abuse angle though…it’s something else. Some fear, or some hang-up, or maybe she’s not as nice as I think she is…

  • Carolynnwith2Ns

    July 28, 2013

    Reply

    I kill my main characters all the time, that’s why my documents file looks like a NYC phone book.
    No one is all bad or all good. Just because she’s a virgin doesn’t mean she’s not addicted to vibrators and the little league team and just because he strangles old women and tortures cats doesn’t mean he’s not a hell of a coach…of the little league team.
    Ewe…where did that come from?

    • donnaeve

      July 29, 2013

      Reply

      Ha! Uh, sounds like another story in the making if you ask me! Write it!

      BTW – on JR’s blog? The writing contest? OMG, your entry is sooooo freaking good! I loved yours and the one about the couple where the man is asking his wife questions with “do you remember?”…and all she says is “no.” And then he double checks the garage doors…and starts the car. GULP.

      • Carolynnwith2Ns

        July 29, 2013

        Reply

        I just reread your JR contest story, very, very good, I love the creepy stuff. You are right, the garage door one is really good and oh so sad.
        I love Janet’s contest stories.

      • donnaeve

        July 30, 2013

        Reply

        I do too. I have a lot of fun with them, and then, I also realize how talented all these people are! 100 words, and five of them fed to us, and look at what comes out of it… pretty amazing.


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