clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Monday, November 12, 2012

Pushing the Character ... off a cliff.

I have a story in process that has a protagonist who is avoiding emotional contact with the world. He has but a single meaningful contact with another person.

I need to push this character to confront his isolation and use his internal turmoil to fuel his empathy for others whose lives are in crisis.

I have to kill off his lifeline to security and isolation.

I didn't want to do it. I wanted to have the story go merrily along with the protagonist slowly absorbing the advice of this other character, slowly changing his point of view and slowly forming a meaningful bond with others who would normally be important. It doesn't work for me.

I have a character who is avoiding conflict by retreating from human contact. He has a shit family which is in pieces and he just drifts away from them rather than do anything meaningful. He has a crap job of no real significance because he just wants subsistence. He lives in an isolated and failing ranching community "outside of the city" because he wants little interaction or reminder of happy social people. He has an old friend who he sees nearly weekly.

I am going to have to lay out the isolation, the avoidance, and the friend's insistence that the character cannot just sit on the sideline of life. Then, I'm going to kill the friend. I'm going to make my character do something. I'm going to make him recognize wants and desires and try to make a difference to someone else.

I normally am fine killing off a character. I've sketched this tale for nearly a decade now. In the several different versions I've never killed off the best friend. I'm doing it now. I'm moving the conflict to the forefront where it should be. I've also introduced the daughter of the friend who comes in for the funeral. It isn't a romantic bit. It is a mirror. The estranged daughter dealing with the remainder of a life that didn't interest her compared to its role as a singular lifeline to the protagonist.

I'm not a heartless murderer. I will however kill a character if it makes the story better.

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