Friday, May 15, 2009

Preparing for Death

Wow, now that's a depressing blog entry title, isn't it?

No, the stone hasn't killed me. Though it's tried its best, the bugger. No, what I'm referring to here is the fact that I'm approaching the critical, climactic scene in my wip and a major character is going to die. I knew this was coming, had it planned from the start, in fact. But as I get closer to that scene I'm getting very antsy about it. I like this character. So does my heroine. Like, a lot. This is not going to be easy. And, well, let's face it, when is death ever easy?

It's not that I haven't had characters die off before. In my YA paranormal (which I plan to revise heavily this summer) I had quite a few gruesome deaths. But they weren't major, likeable characters. I never grew to become fond of them. They deserved to die (insert maniacal cackle here). But this one, well, this one will be very hard to do. It's not like I haven't faced death before and know the kind of gut-wrenching emotions you go through when faced with the loss of a loved one. When we had to put our beloved first dog, Kenya, down and our girls came with us to say goodbye it was both a heartwrenching and a beautiful departure with much love and many lessons about life, caring and moving on shared as a family. I can draw on that and other events to make this fictional good-bye feel very real. But, still, I worry about the execution of it.

I don't want to gloss over it - and I can't, it's the climactic scene. But I don't want to make it maudlin either. This will be a tearful, wrenching good-bye. My heroine will see what death looks like - will face the finality, the reality of it for the first time. She will grow from it, as she has to do. But I don't want to wallow in it either. I know, I know. I should probably read over some great death scenes in other books and see how great writers tackle it. Yeah, well those may just get me so bummed out I'll never be able to tackle this one without a major investment in the Kleenex corporation. I know that J.K. Rowling said she was bawling as she wrote about Harry's 'walk toward death'. But that scene was so, so beautifully written (and yes, I too was bawling like a baby, alone in my house, weeping copiously but trying to keep my daughter's pristine HP book free from the salt tears at the same time. Heck, if I didn't then I'd really have something to cry about!) I know if I go and re-read that scene now I will feel so woefully inadequate as a writer and completely not up to the task of creating a simple, heartfelt, deathbed scene that I'll chicken out of the thing completely and just let the character live. So much easier that way.

But so very wrong.

I must kill my darling. This death is inevitable. And I must face up to it. And learn and grow from the experience.

Like we all do when faced with the real thing.

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