Torture for a writer is:
- Reading a terrible book right to the very end (Perhaps it will get better, but this is mainly because it’s blasphemy to not finish a book!)
- Re-writing the same paragraph over and over and it still doesn’t get any better
- Keeping a bit of text in because there’s a cool phrase you like and you don’t want to get rid
- The great effing green lines in MS Word (IT’S A SENTENCE DAMMIT!)
- You started writing a character, then realise they’re really shitty but can’t kill them off
- You start writing and realise the only way to make it interesting is by killing a character off
- You want to kill a character, but don’t know how without writing clichés
- You reread your stuff over and over and expect the same magical outcome (author’s definition of insanity)
Torture isn’t writing. Torture is the writer. We write and keep those desperate words, phrases, sentences, because it made us feel something once.
Recently I rewrote around 2000 words of a story, simply because too much stuff was happening to my main character. So after all the event-chopping all I had left was a character in a room, thinking.
This is torture, but this is also where I will find the strength to create something that doesn’t need action or other characters. It’s a moment to show the character in their quietest moments.
For in the quietest moments, a writer’s character carries the weight of the reader’s question, bearing heavily on their minds – what happens next?
What happens next – the writer’s torturous question.
I don’t know. It’s a choice only my characters can make.
A story where the character has all the power can be the most treacherous, the most challenging and the most rewarding. I find that if you make your characters do whatever you want them to, they will all end up having the same outcome. My character faces a dilemma, but I don’t face this based on what I would do, I base it on what my character is most likely to do.
Yeah, it’s hard. Mostly, that’s why we kill our characters off.
I tend to treat my characters like I do my sims: keep ’em, but put the ugly ones in the swimming pool and remove all the ladders.