The Joy of Torturing Characters

Is it wrong to say that one of my favorite parts of being a writer is torturing my characters? Not just thinking up plot twists designed to force them to grown and change (aka the “no pain, no gain” theory of writing), but – and this sounds so wrong – leaving them in mid-crucial-scene. Like the time on my last writing retreat, when I was called to lunch and announced, “By the way, Ian and Darcy are REALLY not happy about me being interrupted right now. Mwahahahahahaha.” Or writing right up to the point when a character is about to have an AHA moment, only to stop there. Or – oh, this was the worst – the time I lfet my character in labor. Transition, I believe. For an entire long weekend.

Now, I realize that my characters aren’t real people and no one, other than me, will ever feel the effects of these breaks in the action. But it feels kind of real. And kind of Evil-God-like. And kind of like I should be taking a class in Highlights of the Inquisition.

I think I just creeped myself out.

But seriously, the real benefit of stopping at these crucial moments is that when I finally return, the words pour out. All the momentum of the scene builds while I am forced to wait. When I am finally able to return, there’s a feeling of urgency to the writing that (I hope) carries over to the words on the page. If I’ve done my job right, both the characters and the reader will benefit from the time away.

And if not … well … here’s a pretty picture, just to balance my karma.

mixed flowers