My Week In Review – ROW80 Check-In 11

Hello gentle reader,

It is time for the last ROW80 check-in for this round! Where did the time go?… I hope you had a more productive week than I did…

Quote of the Week

   “We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.”

J.K. Rowling, 2008 Harvard Alumni Association Commencement Address.

Picture of the Week

 EM Castellan - Paris

I was in Paris this week (for my day job).

ROW80 Check-In

 ROW80 Logo

My goal for this round is to write every day. This week, the day job was crazy, and I only managed to write

2 days out of 7.

Word Count of the Week

This week I added 3000 words to my Work In Progress.

Book of the Week

 Skylark

Skylark by Meagan Spooner

This one had been sitting on my TBR pile forever. I won a copy a few months ago thanks to a giveaway organised by the lovely Ayesha Schroeder.

Good News of the Week

This week I entered my YA Epic Fantasy THE LAST QUEEN in the Write On Con Pitch Fest and got a nice comment from an agent. It is also a contest, and results should be announced this week…

Links of the Week

On my blog this week I celebrated my birthday with a book giveaway (still accepting entries!) and I explained the genre of my Work In Progress: Gaslamp Fantasy.

On There And Draft Again this week, Kathi discussed first drafts and Raewyn explained tropes in Fantasy.

On her blog, YA writer Amanda Foody wrote a hilarious post about her Perceptions About Writing.

And Thirty Seconds To Mars (did I mention I adore them?) have a new single out and you can listen to it here.

Next week

Next week on my blog I shall share a snippet from my Work In Progress… if you’re interested.

How was your week? Make sure to share your writing progress and what inspired you this week in the comment section below!

Valar Morghulis : On killing your characters

Hello gentle reader,

for this second ROW80 check-in, I thought I would tackle the issue of killing characters in novels. Let’s say you’ve created a number of interesting and believable characters in your WIP. Is killing off one or all of them going to help or harm your novel?

Over the past few months I have had to consider this question for two reasons:

–          one of the main characters in my epic fantasy novel The Last Queen dies at the end of the book and some of my beta readers have protested against such a death.

–          I have come across several serial stories where killing off characters was an over-used writing device and it made me wonder when killing your characters actually damages your story rather than makes it go forward.

I am not talking here about the horror genre, where killing off all the characters one by one is an expected writing device. I am talking about the other genres, especially Fantasy and Historical Fiction.

The first example of a story where no one is safe is A Song of Ice and Fire by G.R.R. Martin. One of the catch phrase used in this series of books is actually “Valar Morghulis”, which can be translated as “all men must die”. In the books (as well as in the TV show Game of Thrones that is aired on HBO since 2011), a great number of the major characters die, often brutally and unexpectedly.

The second example I have come across recently is the Starz TV show Spartacus, created by Steven S. DeKnight and Robert Tapert. In this historical drama, the writers’ motto is “Kill Them All”, which translates into the death of almost every single character, save for Spartacus himself.

So I get why killing off characters can be a useful writing device. When the reader has become invested in sympathetic characters, it is always a great emotional shock to see those beloved characters die, especially if those deaths are paired with acts of bravery and/or selflessness. For the writer, the death of a character can also be a great way to move the plot along. For example, at the beginning of the second season of Supernatural (a CW TV show), the death of the heroes’ father was a great way to get the story forward. In the Harry Potter series, the deaths of Sirius Black (in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) and Albus Dumbledore (in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) were impressive plot devices that made the young characters grow up and move forward despite their grief.

What I am questioning here, however, is the over-use of the device. In a way, G.R.R. Martin and the writers of Spartacus have painted themselves into a corner, because their readers/viewers now know that they shouldn’t invest too much in characters that are going to die anyway. Also the element of surprise is gone: when you get to Book 5 of A Song of Ice and Fire, you basically expect everyone to die. In this case, the reader/viewer feels cheated because instead of being presented with a great plot and believable tragic events, he is faced with yet another character’s death that doesn’t stir any emotion in him and harms the plot instead of moving it forward.

So what do you think? Do you read or write stories in which everybody dies?

Before wrapping up this post, a few words about my ROW80 goals:

1-      Write everyday: 5/7 days. This week I wrote every day except for Thursday and Friday when my day job took over my life.

2-      Self-edit The Last Queen: not exactly done. I have actually added a few scenes to the novel instead of editing it down. Argh.

3-      Continue writing the first draft of The Cursed King: done, but only a few hundred words.

Here is the Linky for the other ROW80 participants. How have you been doing?

TGIF – 1

TGIF is hosted by Ginger at GReads! Each Friday, she asks a question for anyone to answer. This Friday’s Question is:

Book Series Finales: Which book, from any series has been your favorite ending? What about your least favorite ending?

These past few years, I have read a lot of book series that have yet to have an ending. Among those that are done, though, my favorite has to be the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, which ended brilliantly with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I remember buying the book and reading it on the same day, breathlessly eager to find out who would die and who would survive and how the whole story would finish. I wasn’t disappointed a bit, even if I still find the book too short.

What about you? Any series finale you liked or didn’t like?