Thursday, April 4, 2013

D is for Death and Darlings

To get attached, or not to get attached?  That is the question.  You never know when you're going to have to kill your darling.

I have to be somewhat attached to my characters to be able to protray them in a way lively enough for the current mode of character-driven prose.  I'm so attached to two of the characters in my W.I.P. that I've named two of my idealized future children after them.  However, one day (if I ever get to writing it) at least one of them will have to die.  Not because it's a sort of superstition of writers to kill your darlings, but because of plot.

The reasons to eliminate characters are varied.  In The Hunger Games, most of the characters simply had to die, due to the plot.  If a sub-plot character starts overshadowing your protagonist, you have to murder, rewrite, or lobotomize them (not meant literally, although that is an interesting idea...)  That rule of thumb (kill your darlings) can conceivably ring true, yet it hasn't happened for me.

Unfortunately, I don't have an answer to my original question.  You should probably at least like all of your characters, but tucking your Word document in bed each night and reading your antagonist a bed-time story can get both creepy and ill-advised.

14 comments:

  1. Yeah, it's a real downer to have to kill-off your darlings. Good Post

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  2. I hear this a lot from other writers. Some of the big names take it to the extremes (see: Game of Thrones). I have not done it yet (or did, if old age counts...), but I definitely will have to in my next project.
    Happy A to Z!

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    1. Yeah, I first heard about it on the Writing Excuses podcast.

      Happy A to Z to you as well!

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  3. I once killed off a character I really, really liked. It was hard. He wasn't even a bad guy -- he just had to go.

    Jan at Website
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    1. That happens sometimes, especially in horror.

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  4. I killed a darling in my first book. I searched for ways to keep the character alive longer and still ended up cutting (literally) the character out even sooner than planned. We writers are such beasts.

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    1. Savages aren't we? Users of the most civilized words, yet possesors of the most chaotic souls. Especially horror writers. Mostly horror writers. We aren't really that bad...are we? ;)

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  5. Yes and I even get attached to by bad characters, good to find your blog via the challenge.

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    1. It really helps to make them come alive, pro- or antagoinist.

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  6. I've got a little experience with slaying my darlings, but not a huge amount. I probably need to practice it more!

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  7. From the writer's point of view, I can see the conundrum.

    From my perspective, well, it's all part of the game!

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    1. Yeah, that's about how it goes. It must be done sometimes.

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