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It’s hard to kill a friend

January 27, 2009

I’m not sure how prevalent this is with writers but, for my own pseudo-sanity, I’m going to assume it’s at least a bit ubiquitous:  The early chapter that stalls.

With Veil it’s currently Chapter 4 and I don’t know why.

I’m not talking writer’s block.  I’m writing.  It’s just not got that…oomph, you know?  It seems a bit flat.  Almost like I’m a chimpanzee sitting at a typewriter trying to recreate the complete works of Shakespeare.

It’s not due to lack of plot.  Plenty of ramp-up in this chapter.  It’s not due to stale characters.  I like all of the characters involved (even the two that the reader hasn’t met yet).

Maybe it’s the medical terminology I need to get just right as paramedics work on a fallen character.  I’m one of the many writers who don’t want those in the emergency medical field to cringe in pain when they read the scene.  I don’t want to hear coast-to-coast cries of “They’d never do that!” or “That’s not what that’s called!” or any of a number of other mistakes that could be made by a writer that’s never worked in that field.

That shouldn’t really be a problem, however, since I’m drawing on research coupled with eyewitness experience to a situation that mimics the scene close enough.

Maybe it’s fear of Chapter 5.  I’ve decided (a couple of weeks ago) to make Chapter 5 a somewhat challenging chapter.  It will delve into the mind of an autistic ten-year-old boy.  I hope it will help put me in my oldest son’s shoes for a bit and possibly help me understand him a little more.  In that way I also hope that it will provide the average reader with a deeper understanding of those “afflicted” with the “condition”.

I’d think, though, that the promise of the payoff of that chapter would outweigh the challenge in writing it and not lead to fear of reaching it.

More likely, it’s the fact that I need to kill one of my beloved characters.  It’s hard to kill a friend.

That’s what the best characters are to writers, friends.  We “give birth” to them, yes, but we also get to know them.  I don’t create characters, I find them.  I meet them in the neighborhood bar that is my mind.  I buy a drink or two for the ones that capture my interest at the moment.  I sit with them.  I listen raptly to their stories.  Some of them have stories that beg to be told right away.  These are the ones for whom I buy a pitcher.

There is a friend in Veil that has to die.  This friend’s death is the only way that the story will continue.  It’s quite simple, really, kill my friend or kill my story in its relative infancy.

I know what has to be done.  The hard part is in the doing.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. gigi1953 permalink
    January 27, 2009 10:58 am

    Oh, Wow. One of my own characters doesn’t know how many times I’ve spared his life because I could not kill him. LOL.
    It IS hard to do. Good post! Good luck!

  2. January 27, 2009 11:18 am

    I completely understand about the stalling chapter. Just keep writing, even if it feels flat, then come back and make it more 3D later. That’s what I do, and it usually works pretty well.

    And yes, killing friends is hard. Sometimes impossible. Good luck.

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