Being mean/cruel to characters
Sometimes in a character's life or development, things need to happen that are mean and/or cruel to allow them to experience a real life. We all have suffered through mean and cruel things in our lives, which have developed us into the people we are, and the same for them. I know it sounds weird, but Kate tells me her entire life as I write her story, and it's interesting to listen to. The amount of mean things that have happened to her is simply amazing, but the character is so vivid from that.
Stephen King likes to say "Kill your darlings, kill your darlings even when it breaks your egocentric writers heart." He meant for cutting and editing your novels, but I tend to use that philosophy in a different light. To me, and it's just an opinion and we all know what they say about that, I take it as poetic license to throw rough, and mean items into a character's life.
I have one scene, near the beginning of a pursuit time, when Kate slips and rolls down a muddy bank and lands face down in the nasty mud at the bottom. Full of vegetation and animal carcasses, and foul smelling, the scene just pushes her into another corner to climb out of. Throw in a brand new 300 credit (dollars) outfit, which got ruined, and you can see how things worked.
Don't be afraid to think of, or discover a major twist, or painful event, for their lives, but keep it to yourself while writing it. Once it's all said and done, and everything's on paper, then you can or can't tell if you choose. I tend to keep to the Stephen Moffatt school of writing.
As the lead writer and executive producer of Dr Who, he's admitted that he lies when it comes to things he's writing about in story arcs and episodes. Jenna Louise Coleman's surprise appearance on the first episode comes to mind. Which also is fun to see how he slips out of the supposedly "painted corner."
So don't be afraid of hurting a character. And I only have one rule myself, and it may not work for everyone but here it is:
1. I always lie.
No straight answers on twists and turns coming down the road to anyone, or I'll send them down the rabbit hole. And do it all cheerfully all the way.
For anyone who's a Dr. Who fan, keep this in mind too:
1. Moffatt always lies.
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