Last night I reached a point that I didn’t think I’d ever reach in my writing. Was it perfection? Hardly. I’ll never be a perfect writer, no matter how many millions of words I string together over the next twenty-five years. Was it a feeling of ineptitude? Nope. I’m not an inept writer; I’m learning the craft every day, understanding what can and can’t be done. Was it hopelessness? Naw. I start feeling hopeless enough on things that aren’t writer related that I don’t need it for my writing life.
No, what I felt was regret–over a character I had to kill.
It’s like this: there is a chapter in Part Three where Jeannette–she who has been chased all over the city so that someone can mount her head on a pike and laugh about it–has finally gotten the upper hand, and has decided the only way to keep people from screwing with her is to lay down her own Hammer of the Goddess. With that she figures out a way to find the people who’ve been making her life hell–a word only she uses–she goes after them . . .
With no let up, and no mercy.
This means turning her forces loose, and engaging in the magical version of The Chicago Way: ”They bring a wand, you bring a gargoyle. They blow off one of your arms, you consume them all in black fire and smile as they die screaming.” She knows it’s the only way to make the best of a bad situation, and she knows there comes a point where she has to get her own hands dirty in order to make a point.
In the end she decides to take out this guy–
Only . . . he’s not that bad.
Yes, he’s on the wrong side of the line here. Yes, he’s giving counsel to the bad witch, but for the most part he’s seen a someone standing on the sideline, marginalized by one too many egos in his group. So in terms of being a bad guy, he’s not that bad.
Still, he’s on the other side of that line, so when the time came for him to die, I smoked him. I at least gave him a clean death, a warrior’s death, and not the “Imma Cat and I’m gonna make you die horribly” death I gave another character. But dead is dead, and the dude went down for the count pretty fast.
Right after I edited the scene, that was when the feeling hit: where I go, “You know, I really feel bad killing this guy.” The character even admits he escaped death once before, so he knew how not to pee in the wrong pool. Still . . . it was part of the plan to have him die, and he did.
Case close, even if I did feel a little bad about it.
Maybe I’d have felt better if I’d had a dragon burn his face off. At least then I could say it wasn’t my fault, blame the dragon–
Naw. That’s been done.
Though dragons in the story would be cool . . .