Friday, February 5, 2010

Do You Think You're God or Something?

One of the hardest things about writing a novel for me is having to do truly horrible things to the main character. As I approach the conclusion of the first draft to my new novel, I find myself forced to play the role of cruel overlord and do things that I know are going to devastate the narrator. 

Sure, I knew this point was going to come from the beginning. But it's still a strange feeling. As a writer, you spend months with your character and are essentially their closest companion on whatever journey they take. Though the people are fictional, the relationship one experiences with them is real. This is also true for the reader. The main character is somebody you grow to trust and like, or distrust and hate, but either way, there is a human connection that occurs. Obviously, this bond is quite different and more intimate between writer and character. 

During the process of writing a novel, the character learns to trust you to tell their story. But as the writer, you know the story isn't's yours and you're ultimately in charge. The time will come when you have to play the role of tormentor. It's never part of the process I look forward to and for that, I typically think those moments are some the strongest moments in my books. Or in most books actually. My guess is because the difficulty facing the character is tied to the emotional struggle of the author having to betray their friend for the sake of creation.

I hope my character doesn't read this...I already suspect she's onto me.


  1. This is one of my problems also. I mean I am not to the point of writing a first draft in the novel I want to write, more like brainstorming still, but I wanted to write an alternate reality auto-biography (i.e. fiction book where I am the main character) but then I realized I would have to do bad things to myself throughout the book, and now I am basically back to square one on what I want to do.

  2. Yeah, I've been there too. I always debate being kinder to my characters, but in the end, they have to be tested. It's just the way it goes.

  3. did you accidentally alienate any friends or family members with your first novel because they believed characters in the book were based on them and the views were unflattering? I am quite afraid this may happen to me, and wondered if it does occasionally.

  4. I was a little worried about that, but it didn't happen. Everybody was just kind of thrilled to be in a book that they didn't care about any negative light that may have been shed.

    It's one of the leaps every writer needs to take. It's possible that some people will react negatively, but you write what you need to write. I think that's one of the things that makes writers notoriously hard for others to get close to.