Crossing the Line

James Young is guesting over at the Mad Genius Club today with a post on lines authors should think hard about before crossing, and it’s a lengthy but worthwhile read.

“Y’all talk about torturing your characters… are there any lines you won’t cross?”

Well…you’d have thought I’d been handing out briefcases of cash with complimentary free passes to Big Bob’s Gigolo Shack (“Big, Small, Bob Screws Them All”) from the way Cedar lit up (well, heck, I just wanted the wasp story, but this is better!). After a little back and forth, here I am…and I have a confession to make:

I am among the worst people to ask about this subject there is.

I’m not saying I go out of my way to torture my characters. But ever since Holly told me about that question getting asked, I have been quietly cataloguing things that I have done to main POV characters since I first started writing. In no particular order:

*A main character received a posthumous note from his fiancée…that he had basically sent to her death.

*In my first post-apocalyptic novel, the protagonist returned from a six month journey to find his hometown burned mostly to the ground and almost all the inhabitants murdered. The sole “survivors”? His tortured best friend and brutally raped significant other, both of whom he subsequently shoots in the head as they are beyond medical help.

*Said rather perturbed protagonist goes on what The Bride called “a roaring rampage of revenge.” First stop? Executing another POV character’s wife and twin kindergarteners in front of him, then dropping a thermite grenade in the man’s crotch ala The Crow.

Read the rest here… 

Alma Boykin, who is currently writing my favorite modernized series of Russian Fairy Tales (among many other good books), posted her thoughts on this at her blog as well:

The worlds I write about are not sheltered spaces populated by soft fuzzy kittens and sweet-tempered unicorns in gardens of hypoallergenic flowers where blue birds sing. War, fighting, loss, death, fear, pain, love, hope, courage, honor, faith, those are all elements of what I write. Why? Because they are part of the world I live in, and the world my readers live in. But I don’t have to wallow in the dark side, to present grim/dark/hopeless/vicious just for its own sake. There are places inside me, as a writer and person, where I do not need to go. I know what lurks in the depths and shadows, and how close I’ve come to some ugly moments and deeds. That’s a beast I do not need to feed.

Read More at the Cat Rotator’s Quarterly