Saturday, August 30, 2008

Raising the stakes

After writing about vampires on an earlier blog, I thought it was important to mention I'm not talking about the kind of stake you drive into someone's heart. I'm in the process of editing a manuscript with some requested changes. The editor has asked me to raise the emotional stakes in the novel by having a secondary character die. Currently the book ends with everyone alive and happy or heading toward happiness. There have been bumps and bruises along the way of the physical and emotional kind, but everyone heretofore has survived. Well, not after tonight.
Tonight someone is going to sacrifice it all for the betterment of the book. It's not a scene you can just write in and then leave the rest of the book the same. Every scene thereafter will have emotional aftershocks of loss and grief. The happily everafter will be a little less joyous. The ride into the sunset will be a bittersweet.
Will this make my book a better a story? First of all, it's what the editor whats so it's going to happen. I'm going to trust her on this one especially if she then offers me a contract. Second, I know that many books I love do have the bittersweet element combining loss and enduring love.
When I write under the name Susan Gourley in the fantasy genre, I do add those bittersweet elements. Even if the good guys do win in the end, it won't be easy and they won't all see the peace after the war. My fantasy series that starts with The Keepers of Sulbreth, will see the loss of many lives before the series reaches its end. On the other hand, my romance series with New Concepts Publishing has all the main characters surviving their tribulations on their difficult way to a HEA. But in my newest in that series due to come out in 2009, A Ruthless Good, will see the death of a beloved secondary character. This character appeared in The Greater Good and The Lesser Evil.
I'll be interested to know what fans think of that. I guess I'll have to wait and see. Right now, I'm off to off someone. I already decided who it will be, I just haven't told the character yet.


Madison said...

Why do you write under a pen name? For me, that the last thing I want to do. I guess I just want people to know it's me.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Hi Madison. Two reasons, really. The first is because I'm not sure of the reaction of my day job to me writing romance. I don't write that 'hot' but you never know. The other reason is because I write in two completely different genres, I don't want readers to be confused as to which they are reading. I know many writers do this.