Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Monday, May 14, 2012

Intentional Malice




Have you ever set out to hurt someone on purpose and had fun doing it.?

I think I could have honestly answered no to that question until last week.

Stephanie and I spent three days in a cabin on the river with Presents authors Lynn Raye Harris and Janette Kenny. The purpose? To bounce ideas around and plot some books. What it boiled down to? Hurting our characters

Yeah. You have to cause them pain. You have to make them bleed. This is something Stephanie and I know intellectually, but have had a hard time doing. We are very fortunate that we have never had a form letter rejection from an editor or agent. We always get a personal well thought out rejection with glowing compliments—good writing, snappy dialogue, funny, great characters, good setting. That's the good news.

The bad news is always about our conflict. It's not enough. It's not sustainable. It's not strong enough. The resolution is too fast in coming. So you not only have to make them bleed, they have to bleed for a while.

Well. Conflict equals pain. And thanks to these two USA Today bestselling authors, I think we have learned a thing or two. First off, it was much easier to be mean to their characters, which helped empower us to abuse our own. And Lynn and Jan. had some great ideas for ours.

Before we knew it, we had dead parents, self-blame, public humiliations, miscarriages, and rejected teenagers who never got over it,

There was blood on the floor of that river cabin.

We can't wait to go back.

Can you think of a book, movie, or television character who hurt so bad that it broke your heart?

25 comments:

  1. Sherrilyn Kenyon"s Acheron - it broke my heart about all the things he had to endure. She spent a lot of time in previous books making you like him and want to know his story but when you finally read his book, it was devastating. And Black Beauty, I still hurt for that horse! And Beautiful Joe, I cried for that dog too. Seems I feel sorrier for animals...gee what a surprise.

    Glad you all had a productive and fun weekend. I am jealous!!

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    1. I have not read that but I can believe it. I heard Sherrilyn Kenyon speak in New York last summer and there was not a dry eye in the room. She knows pain.

      This makes me think of some dialogue from Designing women between Suzanne and her ex husband Dash:

      Suzanne: "Do you ever wonder why we got married?"
      Dash: "I know why we got married. I wanted to be a writer and I felt I hadn't suffered enough. Now I have."

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  2. Black Beauty made me cry so much I cry when I think about it. Pain is necessary. We must make our people hurt!

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    1. I think I love my people too much. I need to make them hurt before I name them. Even Stephanie will sometimes say, "Hasn't he lost enough?"

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  3. Oh, the last episode of "Lost." I cried my eyes out.

    I don't look for ways to hurt my characters, but I let them tell me what to do, and sometimes it's very painful. I can't shy away from it because I want everything to be sweetness and light. There's a quote that I know I'll get wrong, but it's something about "the depth of your soul is only as deep as the pain that carved it." So if my characters can endure it, I can write it, even though it causes me pain and I cry my eyes out sometimes.

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    1. See, here's the thing. My characters will tell me their names and what they do. They will even tell me what they want. Maybe I need to start letting them tell me why. I think the pain is in the why of it all.

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  4. Aw, sorry we made you torture your people! But I do think it's necessary. :) Such a fun time we had, aside from the torture! I want more artichoke chicken salad. Guess I'll have to make my own with the recipe you gave me. Mmmmmm.....

    For me, a character from a book who hurt so bad it broke my heart was Zsadist from JR Ward's Lover Awakened. OMG! I needed his book so bad that I read the first two in a rush to get to it. And I haven't read another BDB book since. I needed that story. I didn't need any more.

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    1. Yes, what fun. I think we made some major breakthrough. I have been running a public humiliation scene in my head for a few days.

      Here's a hint about that chicken salad. I sometimes buy a rotisserie chicken. I didn't for what you had, but it saves time. It doesn't even cost much more. But They Guy will eat the dark meat, so I don't have any waste. Because I think dark meat is icky.

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    2. I'm not big on dark meat either. But, ooh, what if you got smoked chicken breasts from a BBQ place? Wonder if the smoky flavor would be too overpowering? Hmm....

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    3. Oh, yes. And Whitt's has the best.

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  5. I think another problem that Jean and I have to over come is that in our personal lives we don't like conflict so we don't want much of it in the lives of our characters either.

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    1. We don't like it but we've had plenty of it. Thankfully, not with each other.

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  6. Confrontation bothers me but I have no problem living that out through my characters. Love it when they have baggage but wouldn't want it for myself.

    I think you can take your pain, from whatever you've experienced, and USE it to fuel your characters. Pain is pain. Though the circumstances may be different for each of us, the severity of pain and/or hurt can be just as devastating, IMHO, ;)

    So envious of your productive weekend. Can't wait to see what's in store for everyone's books!

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    1. Sometimes I would love a good rage. But you can't take it back. That's the problem.

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    2. Well, I used to get so mad when LTC would ask, after I'd gotten into a rage, "do you feel better now?" Argh!!!!

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  7. I think the most painful thing I ever read was Susan Elizabeth Phillip's Molly Somerville in This Heart of Mine where she miscarried on the side of the road in her car. Lordy, but I just cried and hurt right along with her right inside that car. It was traumatic for me to endure her pain. But then Kevin Tucker saved the day and all was well.

    And I think you need to share that recipe. I love all things artichoke-y. :D

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    1. Oh, wasn't that a heart breaker? When he picked her up and she told him she had to keep her legs together so she wouldn't lose the baby?

      Kevin is one of my favorites. He was so broken.

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    2. Killed me, it did. Love Kevin too!

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  8. Artichoke Chicken Salad


    •4 Chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
    •1 can of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped (Use two cans if you really like artichoke hearts.)
    •1 box of chicken flavor Rice-A-Roni, cooked according to package directions and cooled
    •4 green onions, tops only, chopped
    •1 envelope of Good Seasons Zesty Italian dressing, prepared according to package directions
    •¾ Cup Mayonnaise (Hellmann’s)

    Combine chicken, artichoke hearts, Rice-a-Roni and onions. Whisk mayo into salad dressing. Combine with Rice mixture. Chill.

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    1. God love ya, Jean! Yum! You're the best!!!

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  9. It was a great mini retreat! Te peace and quiet, the companionship, and the amazing food. So glad that we all left with positive vibes and great ideas to build on.

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