The reasons for this blog: 1. To provide basic author information for students, teachers, librarians, etc. (Please see sidebar) 2. I think out loud a lot as I work through writing projects, and I'm trying to dump most of those thoughts here rather than on my friends.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

various levels of spoilers; if you don't like spoilers stay away

Earlier in the semester, a fellow writer was discussing a death that takes place in one of Philip Pullman's Sally Lockhart books. I haven't read any of the three, and FW's discussion was in depth enough that I decided I'd better not, because the death looked terribly, terribly sad. It looked well designed enough to make a reader weep--and who has time for that? Not me.

So that interaction made me think of one of my favorite books of all time, Cynthia Voigt's Wings of a Falcon. I seldom have time to just sit down and read, so I keep books going in different places around the house and if I have a few minutes, I pick up whichever one is in the room and read that. After the Sally Lockhart discussion*, I pulled Wings of a Falcon off the shelf and brought it into the rotation, because it's been a long time since I read it.

What I'm finding myself doing is reading a bit the way I normally do, then flipping to the key death in the story--which is a shocking slap in the face of a heartbreaker--to read that, too, before I put the book down for the day. I've done this over and over and over. I have read that death at least once a day for a couple of weeks now. It's kind of sick, really--it's much worse than just reading the Sally Lockhart books through one time. I thought maybe I was trying to prepare myself for the forthcoming death so that when I finally got to it, it wouldn't hurt as much as it has in the past. Or maybe I've finally gone off the deep end, who knows.

But then yesterday when I moved things around in my dystopian ms, one chapter had a new ending, and suddenly I just hit that sucker out of the ballpark. I don't know if it'll stay that way or not, but that ending is suddenly a setup for the death of the character I'm planning to kill off. I don't want to kill the character off, because said character certainly doesn't deserve it. It's a terrible thing for me to do, it's almost beyond the pale. But as I wrote that chapter ending and boldly set up stakes for the probably future death, it occurred to me that maybe I've been reading and rereading the Wings of a Falcon death to work myself up to writing one of my own. I've never killed anybody off before, not like this. The reason for this death is because it'll break the MC entirely, crush him like a fly. To write that, it needs to break me entirely, and crush me like a fly. So now I'm thinking the obsessive rereading of the WoaF death is my subconscious mind trying to gear up to do what it needs to do. I guess we'll see; I could get to that part of my ms and find that the character doesn't need to die, after all.

*and after another discussion with a writer friend who was reading Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall, and commenting on the way Cromwell's third person POV never uses Cromwell's name, only "he" and "him" and such, and how that could get confusing after a while. That reminded me of Wings of a Falcon, which starts off the same way, so I also picked it up to see when Voigt gives her MC a name, exactly. Answer: over 70 pages in, in Chapter 5.

Blog Archive