Flat Line

F – I cheated and asked my husband for tonight’s idea. Something that begins with F. I was taking a chance on a sassy answer but, instead, I ended up with a memory.

Two-thirds through my novel I killed a main character. No, not the main character but someone who influenced everyone else in the book, someone whose ambition and moral ambiguity almost got the other characters killed.

Once I realized this man had to die in the pursuit of his dream, I froze. His death worked in the story. It provided extreme tension, tragedy, and triumph. The narrator suffers from her grief, deals with it, celebrates her dead comrade’s life and makes sure his legacy survives. In the process, she realizes what is truly important in life. But, I just couldn’t kill him. First of all, I liked this character. He was smart, tough, and ruthless. He was funny and sexy. He was just too hot to live. I pondered and fretted for two weeks. How would he die? When? Once I made those decisions, guilt set in. Ridiculous, I know. I wasn’t worried about how readers might feel, I just felt guilty for dispatching him.star-pattern

It took me several days to write the scene. Now that I was ready for his death, I wanted it to resonate. The gory details weren’t important. The reactions of his friends mattered. I described the circumstances through the narrator, using her reaction to him dying rather than gruesome descriptions of the event. Finally, when I finished the scene, I was sobered but satisfied.

But, I missed him. So, when fellow bloggers described their muses I began to wonder. Could this character take the shape of my muse? Why not? After all, the ancient Greeks had lovely  fantasy maidens as their muses – why couldn’t I have a handsome smart- alec as mine? So, now, when my muse is elusive, I’m not surprised. After all, I did sacrifice him to the plot gods, so I don’t blame him if he sulks occasionally.

Who is your muse and why?

7 thoughts on “Flat Line”

  1. Ah, what a wonderful way to honor your character! Character deaths, and the inherent guilt of the writer, always remind me of Stranger than Fiction. The first time I watched that movie I thought “here’s someone who gets it! Here’s someone who understands the responsibility and burden an author takes on when deciding to make such an important decision.”

  2. Thanks for the compliment. When I started writing I was really suprised when the guilt thing tapped me on the shoulder. But, after reading my description of Juan’s death, I realized my feelings added to the drama. Next time I have to kill a character, I’ll be ready. Meanwhile, I’m waiting for my ghostly muse to show up!

  3. Looks like your husband gave you a great prompt today!
    For a while I worried that the voice of my Muse and the voice of the MC in my first book sounded awfully similar. What would happen when I finished the book and moved on to another? Would my characters still ‘speak’ to me the way this one did? And would I be able to talk to the characters once their stories were complete? (Because I knew I would miss them!)
    I needn’t have worried. My Muse has many masks, and while he still bears a strong resemblance to my first ever creation, he has taken on his own identity–if the personification of one’s creativity can indeed have an identity!
    Handsome smart-alecs make great Muses. 🙂

    1. Since I finished the novel, I do miss my characters. Maybe I should employ them all, now that they are out of work. After all, there’s no reason we can’t have more than one Muse at a time:)

  4. I am so glad when I read things like this, where someone says the character they have created affects them in X way. I made the mistake of saying something like that to a non-writing friend, she just rolled her eyes and told me I’m nuts. Meh. I still write, I just don’t talk to her about it.


    1. I’ve found, in general, people are receptive to a writer’s love affair with their characters. But, everyonce in a while I get the LOOK. That’s why I love writer’s blogs and forum. They get you.
      Happy writing, Cat!

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