READING: Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris
LISTENING: Darkness Dawns (Immortal Guardian Series Book 1) by Dianne Duvall
(**Warning: If you’re waiting until the television series of A Game of Thrones is complete before watching it or waiting until George R.R. Martin’s novel series of A Song of Ice and Fire is written before you read it, you may want to avoid this post.)
In my quest to be a better author, I’ve come across a few articles that list the dos and don’ts of writing. One big don’t: Being too nice to your characters.
In the very first book I wrote, the heroine’s husband and child die in what seems like a tragic accident. She soon learns her husband’s true identity when the murderer comes back for her. There is definite chaos in that story world. I wasn’t nice to Kathleen at all, well, except in the end.
In my soon to be released novel, Fallen Redemption, the heroine is laid off from her job, attacked by a soulless creature, has blood sucked from her neck, and wakes in a strange mansion next to a man with glowing blue eyes and fangs. This happens all within twelve hours. She has definite future nut-case potential.
But George R.R. Martin takes the writing no-no to a dark and scary place that if I had four hands, I’d cover my eyes along with my character’s.
I gasped out loud and was in immediate denial when Ned Stark’s head was sliced from his body. “That couldn’t have really happened. Perhaps this is just Jeoffrey’s dream or Sansa’s nightmare.” I waited with bated breath for the next episode to tell me that Ned was indeed still alive. I’m still waiting for that to happen.
A Storm of Swords, the third novel in A Song of Ice and Fire series, dropped completely out of my hands when I read of Robb Stark’s death. I knew what was coming when I watched the last season of A Game of Thrones, but I still covered my eyes when Robb’s wife was repeatedly knifed in the belly (something that did not occur in the book.). I yelled out when Robb was arrowed to death. Tears filled my eyes when his dire wolf, Grey Wind, was killed. “What the hell does Martin have against the Stark family? How could he be so mean?”
It was an article on Entertainment.com that made me see Martin as a superb writer, not just a murderer of decent, loving (and extremely good looking) characters. Martin comments,
“I’ve said in many interviews that I like my fiction to be unpredictable. I like there to be considerable suspense. I killed Ned in the first book and it shocked a lot of people. I killed Ned because everybody thinks he’s the hero and that, sure, he’s going to get into trouble, but then he’ll somehow get out of it. The next predictable thing is to think his eldest son is going to rise up and avenge his father. And everybody is going to expect that. So immediately [killing Robb] became the next thing I had to do.”
It made me think of my own writing. Could I kill off a character? What about their soul mate? Just the thought of it makes my stomach twist and heart pound. The agony I would feel. . . I don’t think I’d have the strength to do it. Does that make me less of a writer? Would my stories be better if I made that big sacrifice to be unpredictable?
What about you? Could you kill off one of your own characters?
What did you think of George R.R. Martin’s murders? Were they necessary?