Wednesday, April 30, 2014

"I thought you were dead." "I thought you were smaller."

 Wherein Jack puts off her review once again

 I have a review of The Winter Soldier coming. It is there, I just haven't been able to write it yet. More on that later though.

 Since finally recovering completely from the flu, I've been back to my six hours of sleep. (This worries people, one friend was especially disturbed. It is one of my weird talents. I don't sleep much.) Anyways, now most nights I curl up on my Star Trek Captain's chair, hide under a fuzzy blanket, sip tea, and beta read while carrying on conversations with a friend. (Talent.)

 Last night I was attempting to finish up my final paper for school. I wanted to have it done so I could work on Math finals and - if it works out - get all of my school work done this week. I've been on edge for weeks over the Math final and was feeling especially grim last night. Not that all of my grimness had to do with Math.
 I've also been suffering Author depression. Something I thought only happened to me, and it made me feel rotten that I'd get into such a sulk over it. 

 This has happened before.

 I don't mind writing sad scenes, because my books end happy. (Spoilers, I know. But I love happy endings and I don't think I could end a book in a horrible, heart wrenching way. Even though real life doesn't always end on a happy note, I see no reason for stories to end with everyone dying.) But I can handle a sad scene. I can write in parts were all hope is lost and everything is bleak. I then turn it around and give everyone hope again. That I don't mind.

 What I have trouble handling is character deaths. I've never written a lot. I have two planned, and they just kind of happened. I almost took them out, but they are needed to move the story forward. They have to stay.

 One is still a long ways off. The other, I am almost to the scene. And it is one character I absolutely LOVE. I loved him the moment he walked into the book. When I knew he was going to die I almost cried - except I kept believing I could save him. (It isn't official until the book is in print.) Sadly, I had to accept earlier that there was nothing I could do to save him.

 This made me feel really depressed. (Throw in a couple of sad TV shows I've been watching - they were happy but turned sad - a beloved book series ending, and Bucky and I've been walking around with a little black cloud over my head.)

 My family is used to this. They've learned I just need time to cope. My friends didn't have a heads up, and I think I surprised them a bit when I would start sulking and saying how one of our favourite shows was going to end horribly. (When I am especially sulky I like to pass on my misery to my friends. A sign of true friendship from me.)

 Now, back to last night.

 I thought I was the only one who did this. No one else I'd met sulked when they had to kill a character. No one ever talked about getting depressed over it. (Depressed might be the wrong word, but you get my meaning.) I felt like the odd, strange one. Until last night, when my friend said she was feeling some of my feelings over a character she had killed.

 And THAT is my point behind this post.

 Readers, viewers do sulk over their favourite characters who die. If a story is especially good many even cry. We spend so much time with a book - even a movie - that when someone we've grown attached to dies it makes us sad.

 I know fellow Authors will probably agree, but this is ten times worse when this happens to a character of your own creation. Authors become just attached to their characters as readers and viewers do - only Authors become more so. We've spent more time with these characters. We know certain things about them readers might not ever know. We were right beside them through everything. We created them (in a sense. I saw this and then my characters laugh at me. Hopefully this isn't the case for all Authors.) And they don't just die, like they do to readers. We are the ones who have to kill them. 

 For the longest time I thought it was silly to put so much emotion into a story. It wasn't real. Why should I be sulking around over something I made up in my head? But I've been learning the importance of stories.

 First off, if I feel nothing for the story I am writing then neither will the reader. Authors should become attached to the world they have created and their characters. If a character doesn't break the heart of their Author then they likely will not of the reader. (Warning, this might not be the case for everyone. If you haven't cried over your book, don't panic.)

 Second, stories are important. I realized this when I was on pins and needles over my Math test. I didn't want to take it, I didn't think I could. Failure is looming over my head, taunting me. What chance did I have at figuring out Math when I've not been able to do so all year? 
 On the risk of sounding like a sap, when I went in to try and conquer swirling problems I remembered all of my favourite stories. (Frodo and the ring. Peter fighting his first battle in Narnia. Rodgers trying to save Bucky. Sage standing up to Conner. Halt confronting his bother.) (For the record, I even rallied up true stories.) Anyways, my point is, Math didn't seem so terrible when I remembered stories of my favourite heroes facing things much worse than Math.

 Stories can be painful, but we still love them. We still go back to them when we face our impossibilities. 
 That is why Authors write even when their characters break their heart.
 I hope that is the reason, at least. Some writers I think just do it to be evil. (I don't have to name any Author, you can all probably think of a list on your own.)

 As for me? I am going to leave on that non-concluding thought, make myself a cup of tea, and read my new book.

 Quote is from the first Captain America movie.




  1. Awwww! yes, I haven't been depressed so to speak… but I have a character that has to go. Really it has to be this way, but we've been through a lot together.
    He was the first to really take shape in my story, and I hate to part with him…

  2. I hate killing off my characters. It's so irreversible. Especially if it's a character I love. I'm editing Yorien's Hand right now, and realizing that I may have to kill somebody... and I think that's part of why I've been reluctant to really dive into the editing... nobody dies in the rough draft (I killed so many people in books 1 and 2, I thought maybe I could get away with it... but now the stakes are higher, and if nobody dies, the true danger of the situation may not be aptly conveyed). Sigh. I have no idea who it's going to have to be yet, which is even worse....

  3. Wowwwwww this post was so amazing! I love it so much. Just getting back into writing after a pretty-much hiatus has been tough for me, and not only because it's just difficult to get back into writing. I just get so depressed about this book that I'm working on.

    I'm like you--I have to have a happy ending. I like happy endings. I like them better than realistic endings. Plus I feel incredibly evil if it isn't a happy ending. And also, killing off characters is wretched. Really, truly wretched. *sigh*

    Anyway, as you can probably imagine, I'm feeling pretty evil AND depressed about how this book is going to end. I have even considered adding a part 2 in the book rather than doing two books because I don't want it to end on such a note.

    But yes. By the way, I read your comment about you having happy endings and I was like, "I HAVE TO BUY HER BOOKS!" I've been wanting to for some time now, just haven't had the funds. But I'm super excited to as soon as I can! :-D

  4. Jack, this post is pure BRILLIANCE. I'm just going to say AMEN to all of it.

  5. I cry over my own characters. I have trouble really killing them off. My reaction to sad death scenes in books and in movies is, "if only *I* had been there, that would never have happened!" so being the person responsible for the scene is just too horrible.

    On the other hand, for a story to work, the stakes have to feel real, there has to be the chance of death and failure, otherwise there is no story. Sometime a death scene can be one of the best scenes in the story - Boromir's death, for example. I always cry like an idiot over that scene - both the book and the movie - but it is also one of my very favourite scenes. I always like Boromir, but in that scene, I love him, and want to be like him.

    I pull up heroes (both fictional and real life) to buck up my courage. If Frodo can throw the ring into Mount Doom, and William Wallace can rally an entire nation against the English, I can be brave about whatever smaller fear it is that I am struggling with. And I will. So there!

  6. Hello Jack! it's me again :)
    Beth and I have nominated you for the Liebster Award
    (It means something nice in German)
    Have fun!

  7. Yes, yes, yes, yes!!! This whole post, just yes! You are not alone!

    It's a bit ridiculous how emotional I get over fictional characters. I was depressed for weeks after BBC's Merlin ended and I still get teary-eyed when I think about it sometimes. It's kind of embarrassing how deeply I feel for fictional characters, my own or others. It doesn't matter. I love them all.

    And I looooved how you said stories are important! I know some people think there's no point, it's about imaginary people and imaginary events. So who cares? Right? NO. Stories DO matter. They have impacted SOOO many lives, mine included. The world would be nothing without stories.

    This whole post put all my feelings about fictional people and stories into words. It was perfect. <3

  8. Anyways, now most nights I curl up on my Star Trek Captain's chair, hide under a fuzzy blanket, sip tea, and beta read while carrying on conversations with a friend. (Talent.) <----- SKILLLZZZZ.

    I think killing characters is good.... as long as there is a good reason for their death. Randomly killing off characters, I don't like so much. But I agree, life has it's ups and downs, and it's only right for books to have them too, but seriously, end with hope, not like the Hunger Games. XD

    We weren't the friends that you took by surprise with your glum predictions for SPN's future, right? Because I totally wasn't shocked, I agree.... and it sucks. *cries*

    It must be hard for you to kill off everyone you love. lol. YOU EVIL AUTHOR YOU. :)

  9. I love happy endings - and happy stories - too.
    Why are stories wrought with emotions (driven mostly by character death or separation) so appealing to people? I'm thinking specifically of teenage girls. As a teenage girl, the last thing I need in my life is a story that will have be bawling my eyes out. I've got enough emotions and hormones rushing around my body already, thank you very much!
    But yes, I agree with you. Stories are important. They have good impacts. Just the other day I was thinking "If Bertie Wooster can bike 18 miles, after midnight, only to find out that his mission was useless, I can finish a two hour bike ride." Stories can also have bad impacts, though. By having so many depressing stories, people are starting to become more depressed (that's not the only factor, of course, but I think it's one of them), instead of focusing on the happy things in life (of which there are many).
    Besides, because of Jesus Christ, I know there will always be a happy ending in my life, regardless of what happens during the blip of time I'm on earth.

    (All your books have happy endings, eh? What about a certain sequel that came out last December? XD Kidding.)


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