Well… I have no idea what’s up, but Selanya’s computer couldn’t load the page to add this post. This is Selanya’s post for today:

This excellent photo must be credited to Podvinak, whose work is available here.
This excellent photo must be credited to Podvinak, whose work is available here.

I mentioned in last week’s post that I have trouble with writing romances in part because I like to torture my characters. I do, I really do. It might seem strange to you, but when I write, my character’s lives almost always turn out to be a living hell. So today, I’m going to share with you what I do with my characters and why I make bad things happen to them.

For some reason, I have never been able to write a decent story where a multitude of bad things did NOT happen to at least one character. The first story I remember writing involved the death of a young woman at the World Trade Center and her husband’s attempt to deal with the disaster. I know I’ve posted at least one story for y’all to read that involves a large explosion and at least two deaths. I’ve written stories about serial killers, suicides, a murdered bride, actual torture scenes, and so on and so forth. The tortures I inflict on my poor characters don’t always have to be physical, though. Far more often, the pains are emotional, traumatic (and usually, the physical pain is caused by some deep, underlying psychosis). The aforementioned serial killer murders people because his severe OCD drove him completely insane. One suicide occurs because the person is so hounded by ghosts of misdeeds that his pain breaks his health and his mind. I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. To be a character in one of my stories is to be broken, abused, mentally ill. That’s just what I do.

woman-crying-2So why do I so thoroughly abuse my characters? Well, the main reason is that happy people are boring people in stories. I don’t want to write about a man who is healthy, wealthy, and wise, and has a successful, fulfilling life. People in pain are far more interesting to me. As I’ve mentioned several times, I’m a psychological writer. The psychology of a psychotic man or clinically depressed woman is more fascinating to me as a writer than that of someone completely healthy, or even mostly so. I like to put my characters through pain and trials to see how that pressure and that torture will affect them. What will they do, how will they act, how will they change? Sometimes they emerge stronger and wiser, as in the story “Heroine.” In others, they succumb to the pain and become even more dark and twisted than they were before. In Dostoevsky’s novel “Crime and Punishment,” the main plot of the story is not whether or not Raskolnikov will give in to the urge to commit the crime. The crime is a foregone conclusion. Rather, the story looks at the effects that his depravity have on him, and waits to see if he will overcome his madness and confess his sin and rise above his past. That, for me, is a compelling story. And sometimes, I just like to look at a character after he’s already given in to the Dark Side, so to speak, and just follow him for a while and see what the full effects of his earlier torment are. The story about the OCD killer that I talked about earlier does that: his mind has already snapped and he’s past the point of no return. I just look at the deeper reasons for his murders, and see how far his depravity takes him. That’s why I put my characters through so much pain. There’s so much more about human nature and psychology in their actions when they’ve been through the wringer. Seeing how they react and grow (or wither) during their trials helps me identify with them, understand them, and write them. They are tortured souls, but all for a reason.

Any thoughts? Do any of you do similar things to your characters? Either way, why? Good writing to you all, and I look forward to reading your comments.


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