October 18, 2007

Writer's Plot Notes: "Someone Has to Die"

With my method of writing, I try to construct my story in a manner that efficiently moves the plot along without bogging the reader down in unnecessary details. Unfortunately, a few people get hurt or killed along the way. It's not like I'm a boy sadistically stomping on ants in the backyard; I am a writer who needs to knock off a few decent, and sometimes not-so decent folks every once in a while to tell a compelling story.

Of all the tales I've authored, I can't think of any which could be considered extremely violent. My first story has a victim who is viciously stabbed and raped and one homicide by way of gunfire. In the court of public opinion, I couldn't be accused of writing something sensational just to attract an audience. To support that claim, I didn't find any audience for that story. I was turned down so many times, I had to fit all of the rejection letters into two, giant manila envelopes, meaning I didn't create anything which stood out among all of the other stacks printed, 12 point type in the slush pile.

My second work of fiction deals with a character who winds up in Hell. But, Hell is supposed to be a bad place, isn't it? Three people were murdered in that story and I still don't think I meant it to be an overly-brutal narrative as it is a theme about redemption. My last novel has three people getting attacked, with only one of the gunshot victims succumbing to his wounds. Maybe my characters have lousy aim; but, I couldn't bear to kill the protagonist as he had to survive to be the hero. My point? Authors are Gods in their worlds, and we have the power of life and death over our characters. The question is, how to dispatch them?

There are those who can coldy kill off their characters in hideous, evil ways. Think of Saddam's torture rooms, shut your eyes, and cup your hands over your ears. This writer can't travel down that road toward hideous torture and greusome death. Maybe if I'm tailgated again on the way home from work by some idiot on the Long Island Expressway I might become inspired to...forget it. I'm not that type of writer.

Still, I was stunned when I took inventory of all the acts of agression in my stories. Yes, the protaganists in all three of my novels are police officers as I excercise the old "write what you know" concept. I figure it'd be easier for an ex-cop to get police stories published than to entice a literary agent with a medical thriller. There is an inherant amount of danger in police work, so it stands to reason that there is the potential for gunplay in a any scene where an officer strolls in a building as a drug dealer hides, panting and sweaty, behind a doorway waiting for him to approach.

Yet, the question remains, how do I kill off my future charcters? I'm sort of weak-willed when it comes to death. Bullets are clean, easy, and impersonal in a way. It was many years ago when I wrote a chapter where a poor woman was dragged into a wooded area, stabbed repeatedly, and savagely raped. When I go back and re-read that portion of the manuscript, I get a bit queasy. That's not because I am such a powerful writer, it's because I had to imagine all of the gory, terrorizing details and hurt someone I cared about. Yet, as sure as I sit here typing this blog post about inserting murder and death into one's writing, someone is going to get hurt in my next novel. I have an idea who it is, and I don't like him. Maybe you'll read about it one day. Whether or not this one gets published remains to be seen; but, either way....it's going to be murder.


footiam said...

Violence sells! Can you imagine a book which just narrates the normal going-on in our daily lives. Nobody would read that except maybe, hard-core romantics who yearn for truth and authenticity.

Mr. Grudge said...

That's right...and I try to come up with a plot that has action to keep the pace moving. If someone gets hurt...ooops. Thanks footiam.

Missy said...

I agree, it's tough to kill off your characters. They are your babies after all; even the ones we don't like.

I have to disagree about writing what you know. Some think you should write about what interests you greatly. If you do it well, your enthusiasm for the subject will rub off on the readers.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Missy,
Thanks for reading my post. Yes, definitely write about what interests you. For me, I write about cops because a huge part of what I once was had to do with police work. Thank you once again for visiting!

Mr. Grudge