Lord have mercy. Posting late today. Had to take the pooches to the vet (they’re fine–Daisy’s just had a stomach thing and Callie was due up for her annual check up), then took the rest of the morning off to hit up the grocery before the deluge from Issac hits us.
I had a totally traumatic beginning to my morning, one that ended with copious tears shed on my part. I’m sure my hubs would have been quite alarmed if he hadn’t already left for work, as I think there was actual wailing involved. See, C.J. Redwine totally killed off one of my favorite characters in her book. In a completely horrible manner. I’ve been plotting horrific deaths for the perpetrator ever since.
This is the highest possible compliment I could pay an author. Because I am a tough chick. Usually only the death of an animal will make me cry. That she made me love this character in the first 120 pages that much says OODLES about her skill at crafting a story. Usually only Joss Whedon does this to me (I cried buckets when Wash died). She’s also going on my uber short list of authors who can pull off present tense storytelling without being annoying.
It’s got me thinking about the whole idea of raising stakes by killing characters (good characters, I mean). This is something I have never done in a book because I HATE when I read it because it really HURTS ME as a reader. And yet in most of those cases, it was the final catalyst for change, the thing that flipped whatever switch needed flipping. Think about Agent Colson’s death in The Avengers. Would the team have really come together without that push?
There are certain types of books (movies too) where you can count on the fact that nobody’s gonna die that’s important to you. This is common in romance. Your core cast is safe. This is a contract with the reader that no matter how bad things get, nobody’s gonna get killed off. This is predominantly what I read. It’s also what I have always written. But there’s this whole other kind of book where anything goes. No one is safe–sometimes not even the hero or heroine. Well, okay even this kind of romance the hero and heroine are safe, but NOBODY ELSE. And those stories are positively GUT WRENCHING.
I can’t say I’ll never do it. I don’t LIKE it. And I’m sure if I do decide to use such a device in my work, I’ll cry while I write it. The only thing I can definitively say is I’ll never kill an animal in a book. That’s my line. But anybody else? Maybe it’s time I pushed my own boundaries as a writer.
What about you? Do you write stories where anybody can be a target or do you like to keep your core peeps safe? How about reading? Do you like that emotional manipulation by the author jamming a knife in your gut (I’m watching you, C.J.) or do you get angry when you expect something else?