The Corpse-Rat King passed the 60 000 word mark tonight. This is a substantial mark for me: Napoleone’s Land ran its course in 78 000 words, (Yes, actually, I still have to do those rewrites and get back to the agent I’ve been avoiding admitting my lack of working on the damn thing to for months, since you ask. Now go and play on the freeway, kid, you’re bothering me) and there’s a lot more land to cover in this one before I start to think about winding it up.
I killed someone tonight: a character who began as a one line throwaway some thousands of words ago but who sat in the back of my mind in such an insistent way that the last part of the story has directly involved him, and who has evolved into a major driver of the narrative. He didn’t even exist in my original visualisation of the story, but like all good characters, once he was given life he refused to just go the hell back into the dark. As a result, he’s moved the story in a much stronger direction than I had originally intended. Therein lay his doom because, in order for the next part of the narrative to resolve itself, he had to go.
And I’m genuinely sad. I liked him, and he was enormously fun to write– a character who grew before my eyes from a lampoon into a fully rounded person, not only conceptually but within the text, so that the reader (I hope) will see his personal growth and respond to it, and will feel some measure of sorrow when he dies. And, you know, it’s me talking, so you know it ain’t gonna be pretty. A writer wants his readers to identify with his characters, but that often means we have to do so first. If we feel pain at a character’s loss, then hopefully it means we’ll have done a good job at passing that pain on to you. Which, when I consider it like that, doesn’t sound like the nicest thing you can do to a pal…
Kill your babies. It’s a central tenet of writing effective fiction. But sometimes you can find yourself being surprised and delighted by one of the little mutant babies at the back of the room, one you really weren’t expecting to pay attention to, but who suddenly learns how to scratch their own name into an etch-a-sketch with one tentacle finger. Then having to put them down bites just that bit harder.
All in a month’s work.
PS: (Nothing But) Flowers in my pants. Oh, it’s going to be hard work to cleanse myself of this meme…..