Monday, January 15, 2007

Giving up the Ghost--How do you decide who to kill?

So, I'm at the finale of my YA novel, and someone has to die--besides the bad guy. I have to kill off at least one of my good guys, and it's very tough. I'm not a huge proponent of killing off characters in a YA, but this is one of those cases that really calls for it. So, is it copping out to choose a background character rather than one of the more prominent characters? How do YOU choose? At this point, I think I've decided to take a bad-girl-turned-good to the grave. She will be doing something noble, and a deeper revelation into her character may also be in store. But what is the line between cliche or maudlin and dramatically effective?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Method Writing...

Have you ever spent time acting out your story for the sake of writing it? Well, as I sat at my husband's office, away from the kids and the noise and all the other distractions, writing the closing chapters of my latest wip, I found myself dropping to the floor and role-playing to get a better feel for where the action would go next. So there I am, on my knees, staring up at imaginary ghosts and reaching for imaginary people beside me. Thank goodness the campus is still on break and no one is watching my strange little ritual, or I could find a ride home in a nice padded white truck! I've done this before, and I must admit, I have to be careful where I decide to indulge in this "method" writing exercise. I've allowed myself to enjoy a little play-acting in the presence of my 5-year-old daughter, but within limits. Afterall, ghost can be a little scary especially when they inhabit the body as well as the imagination of your mother! But even when I'm out shopping or doing some other errand, I am often imagining what my mc would feel here or say about that, and hope that I don't actually speak it out loud (but on occasion the curtain slips!).

Sometimes I stop writing so I can experiment with the more physical aspect of story-telling: reaching a certain way or staring at my face in the mirror while I approximate the emotional response I'm trying to describe. Or even laying out a room with newspapers as furniture or other obstacles so I can describe movement more precisely or approximate measurements. I definitely need a keener body awareness both from without and within. By that I mean a better sense of how things feel from my perspective, and how I look from someone else's. Writing can be a three dimensional art as much as acting or sculpting, and I think allowing ourselves to be multi-dimensional in our process can certainly help our characters and our stories be multi-dimensional on the page.

So, now I plunge back into the climax of my story... See you on the shelf!