Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tormenting Characters

Do I torture my characters? Do I ask myself...'What's the worst possible thing that could happen to this person?' Unfortunately the answer is a big fat yes!

Why would I do such a thing you ask? Why would someone want to inflict pain and heartache onto someone in which they spend so much precious time with? The answer is really quite simple. Or at least that's what I told my sister when I added a slight issue with her very favorite character. I didn't even tell her what I had done, simply added a little don't hate me when you read this...

So my reasoning was simple...I needed to breath new life into the pages. I have a soft spot for this particular's actually my very first manuscript, but it was in no way ready for human eyes (my sister doesn't count). It was missing something. There was a missing element to this character that my sister had already fallen in love with. So...I took the plunge and am thrilled with how the story is now unfolding.

Of course I have opened up a whole can of worms and created an over abundance of work for myself. But isn't that what we do? It's like overcoming some sort of hurdle for me. Pulling the ms that I had once shoved under the bed, thinking it was hidden away forever and turning it into something even better. Will it ever be ready for public consumption? Who knows? But that's what I love about writing...creating things in my mind and twisting and molding it's contents the way I envision them. The way I want events to unfold.

Of course now I'm waiting for the wrath of my sister and that phone call from my mother asking me what I did to her this time. But hey, it's all worth it in the end right? Anything for a great story.

So tell me, am I the only twisted person out there that torments their characters all in the name of writing? How do you add that little something extra when you hit a wall? Or am I the only one who has this problem?


Candyland said...

Torment is part of the fun. Does it make us twisted? Maybe. When I hit a wall, I literally step away for as long as it takes to jump back in the game.

salarsenッ said...

Tormenting your characters is part of the game. Why would anyone read a book that's just fluff and frills? People want to live through another's experiences from the safeguard of their homes, cars...their minds. Like James Scott Bell, one of my writing hero's said, "Get your protagonist up a tree, throw rocks at him, and then get him down."

Francine said...


Tormenting of characters is part of the joy of writing, and torturing heroes even better! ;)


Tara (The Bodacious Pen) said...

I admit I have a hard time tormenting my characters, but you almost have to at some point! The story could possibly be dull without it!

Adventures in Children's Publishing said...

torment = tension = good

Especially when your story is sagging. So, I love tormenting my characters. Bring it on. My only caveat is whether the torment is gratuitous or necessary to the overall arc of the story and the characters. Does it play into the main plot, a subplot, teach a lesson that needs to be learned by the character? If I can satisfy that, I'm off and running.

Good post!


aspiring_x said...

hooray on finding a new way to breathe life into that early WIP!!! that's super exciting! :)

Amparo Ortiz said...

Torment = Fun

Guess that makes me twisted, too :) But seriously, I find that the more I struggle with characterization and plot, the more it has to do with not making things hard enough for the characters. Torment, no matter the degree, will make for a great read.

Great post!

Matthew Rush said...

I'm told by my crit partners I need to do this more, to be harsher on my characters ... and you know what? They're right.

I'm currently reading The Hunger Games, and being cruel to the characters makes for damn good reading.

Janet Johnson said...

Now I feel like a big heal. Just give me the black triangle hood. So yes, I do it, too. Poor characters. Necessary evil. :)

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

I'm with you on the torture of characters. Torturing my characters is the best part of writing...oh, and writing kissing scenes ;)

Anonymous said...

I would hope that ALL writers torment their characters; it's the only way to create compelling fiction.

Besides, I love a character more if they have weaknesses and problems to overcome, and in the meantime, I'll be rooting for them!

Melissa said...

Torment, torment, torment! This is what I do, love doing and also adore to read. Characters with too little conflict are dull. The more conflict and tension the better. (As long as we don't meander off into the realm of melodrama).

Good luck on revising your old manuscript.

Christina Lee said...

Yeah, I've gotten better and better at this! The poor dears ;--)