Let’s kick off this shiny new year of blogging with everyone’s favorite topic: Death.
Ok, cake was a close second.
I’m slowly winding down the first draft of my second book, The Mortality Vice. I had the idea for this book back in April while I was visiting NYC, but I didn’t start writing it until NaNoWriMo came about. I churned out 50,000 words in 30 days and fell in love harder than I’d ever thought possible.
The Mortality Vice was a book of firsts for me: First Person, writing from a male POV, alternate timelines, SCIENCE!, and a major character death.
It’s true I killed a lot of people in The Killing Type. With serial killers, it’s kind of essential. I have never, however, killed a main character. I wrote the scene in my NaNoWriMo frenzy, forcing the words out. It wasn’t a quick death. It was slow, and painful, and I wrenched it out of my head and threw it into the document. I had to stop halfway through because I couldn’t breathe. I picked it up again another night and had to stop because I couldn’t see through my tears.
I hated myself. I hated what I’d done.
I asked a friend’s opinion about it. I wanted to renege on my decision and bring the character back. She told me no. If I undid my action, the initial death would have no meaning. She was right.
But I still struggled with myself over it. I realized I was grieving for this fictional person. I’d cried, I’d trying to bargain, I got angry with myself, I was depressed that it had to be done. Now I’m finally accepting it for what it is.
It’s not just that this character’s life ends; I killed someone I cared about. Horribly. There was no peaceful deathbed gathering of loved ones. This character wasn’t old, wasn’t sick. It hurts because this person I invented mattered to me.
The thing about killing a major character is that there needs to be a reason. It has to matter. To the other characters, to you, to your readers. I knew this character had to die the moment I started writing the ending. It didn’t make things easier. I tear up thinking about it. The other day I figured out another scene, a scene that makes what I’ve done hurt more. It has to be written. I’m going to hate it.
Secretly, I’ve always wanted to emotionally devastate my readers. I think this is it.
Kill your darlings, but make it count.