Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Killing off characters

A few months ago an author friend and I spent a week trying to kill someone.

We wanted to write a mystery -- and for most mysteries, you need a dead body somewhere along the line. You don't even have to kill someone on the page. They just have to have kicked the bucket under mysterious circumstances sometime in the not so distant past or in the foreseeable future. Not a big deal.

Except for us.

We had a week. We couldn't do it.

We tried. No one would stay dead. Everyone we thought of doing in seemed to pop back to life the minute we left the dining room table to make cups of tea. Very disconcerting. We decided, on the basis of our week's inability to knock anyone off, that mysteries weren't us.

We moved on. Abandoned the idea. Developed a new one. I think we'll be fine with it. And thereafter I simply accepted this inability to snuff characters as just part of my make-up as a writer, like my inability to write description that doesn't bore me to tears.

Imagine my surprise, then, today when I blithely did away with Flynn's brother.

I loved that brother. I had great plans for him. He even had a book in his future. But now he's dead. No future. No book.

The upside is I finally have a book for Flynn and Sara -- a romance that does not get sidetracked into a family drama about the titled class of Ireland.

And aren't we glad about that? Oh, yes.

I'm wondering now if I should ring my friend and suggest we take another look at the mystery project.

The thing is, I didn't really kill the nameless brother. He got stung by a bee.


Blogger christa said...

Yes but was the bee being around him an accident?

25 January, 2007  
Blogger Anne McAllister said...


Depends on what you mean by "accident." In the world of fiction, yes. In the world of making fiction work, no. In fact it was somewhat premeditated (on the part of the author. I have no idea the bee's feelings on the matter. Or the brother's, though I suspect he couldn't believe it).

25 January, 2007  
Blogger Jennifer Y. said...

Hmmm...what an intriguing post...I am feel an interview with the bee may be necessary or a seance to talk to the deceased brother to determine their feelings on the matter...LOL. So while the bee was the murderer, was the author an accessory to the crime?...LOL.

Glad there was an upside...LOL Being a writer sounds much control and power!

25 January, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Murder by bee sting. Yay! You do have it in you, lol!

I'm not sure if I should say congrats or offer condolences.

How about--Best of luck!


25 January, 2007  
Blogger christa said...

I think I watch too many crime shows where it is known that the victim is allegertic to bee stings and a bee shows up in an unlikely place. Later to be found out that it was let loose there for a specific purpose.

25 January, 2007  
Blogger Kate Walker said...

Hmm - is it something in the stars that makes Romance wtiters suddenly murderous? I just killed off my new hero's brother and sister in law in one go.

I feel sorry for Flynn's brother - though I am tempted to think about Hamlet's soliloquy
'To bee or not to bee. . .'
(Sorry! Couldn't resist it!)


My word verification is xewms - ex 'umans? Seems appropriate

25 January, 2007  
Blogger Jennifer Y. said...

Christa: Same here...I was thinking of those crime shows as well. I saw one where the lady slipped peanut butter in the guys food knowing he was allergic. She was getting married and was on a jury with him. He was holding things up and she wanted to end things so she could still get married on time. He ended up dying and she ended up wedding for her. LOL. Sorry for rambling.

Kate: ROFL at the soliloquy!

25 January, 2007  
Blogger Anne McAllister said...

Christa, yes, you watch too many crime shows. Instead of CSI now there will be a BSI -- bee sting investigations. You read it here first.

Jennifer, I'm not so sure this "Control and power" authors have is all that it's cracked up to be. You have to figure out how to use it -- and that's not always easy. I would have felt better about the brother if I hadn't known him before I killed him off. But then, the one who ended up dead wasn't the one I knew anyway. So maybe he's out there still waiting -- a character in search of a story. Yes, I fear the author was an accesory. Though no one knew about the bee sting allergy -- until after the fact.

Lee, thank you for the "best of luck." No doubt I will need it.

Kate, yes, it must be something in the air. Or water. Or maybe just that we are both for once in the same stage of the book! Too bad about Raul's brother and sister-in-law. Not bee stings, though, I'm sure.

25 January, 2007  

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