So…voodoo, darkness, demons…rocks fall, everyone dies? The QT Blog Chain was started by yours truly here, so follow the link to read through the answers to:
What do you do to amp up the conflict? What pins do you stick in the little voodoo dolls? How do you torture your characters???
I promised at the start of this to answer my own question, but now that I’m here? It’s no easy thing. Mary said that character torture is like slowing down to look at car wrecks, which, I have to admit, I do. Be honest, do you? And if you’re the type to look away…what else does that say about you? The answers were so varied– Abi used torture to create layers, Michelle shot first and asked questions later, Elana wondered if she tortured her characters ENOUGH, and Heather gave her characters "the final blow to light the powder keg." Jess said she didn’t consciously torture them…which makes me wonder what her unconscious is planning without her knowledge 😉 Kat tries to make them their own worst enemy, to which I can relate. Terri worries about her "social filter" (Terri needs to read The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things by JT Leroy…after that her fears will be permanently set to rest). Everyone had a great answer, but no one seemed to answer the question how I wanted… and to be honest, I’m not sure quite what I wanted to hear. I thought maybe if I had everyone else answer it first, it would help me out, give me some direction. Maybe that’s why I didn’t answer it myself. I wanted to see where it would go.
*Enter long pause*
Maybe that’s it? Is that why I torture my characters? To see where it will go? How far they’ll go before they break? How far *I* can go before I break FOR them? Kate‘s post quoted a poem by Stephen Crane, which I’m going to repost here, because I think it hits close to what I was going for….
In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said: "Is it good, friend?"
"It is bitter-bitter," he answered;
"But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart."
"And because it is my heart."…how much of ourselves do we put in our writing? How many of our fears end up on the page? Not being rescued in time (as Archy pointed out). Not being saved. What happens after? How do you go on? How much of that world you put on the page is a mirror?
I also got some great quotes from everyone. Christine said, "The journey my characters take as they confront the shadows in themselves helps them become conscious." But my favorite is from Sandra. "The wounds that I give them will remake them." The question is, how? Are they whole now ,made stronger, or are they monsters, missing parts and sewn on bits found along the way–reshaped by what’s been done in the past. Both are beautiful, but I gravitate towards the flawed ones. The ones that can’t ever be fully fixed, because they are missing the parts that would make them whole. And I think that’s how I torture my characters. I break them down. I make them almost unfixable, and then I try to show them that the parts they’re missing can be found in others. And I wait to see if they will seek them out.
I must say, if anything, the answers have forced ME to stretch. Interesting things in the darkness. That’s for sure.
Next Blog Chain goes to HL Dyer!
Also, before I go, I wanted to say thank you so much to everyone for the congrats. You’ve been there for me so much in the past (wow…has it been years? YEARS plural? Really?) and understood me in ways others just couldn’t. I love you guys.