Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Death Is A Teenage Girl

Now Playing: How To Destroy Angels - Is Your Love Strong Enough

My brother left for university on Monday D: I miss him already but I wish him the best. I was going to put that on Friday's challenge, but that's about the only update I will probably have to give. For the most part, I've been writing and reading and reviewing and cleaning and applying. So I'm taking a break to write up a short post today. See, I've been thinking. . .

If I actually went ahead and worked entirely on that not-project of mine--which is probably (or not) called Death Awakens--would it technically be considered YA if my version of Death takes the corporeal form of a teenage girl? That'd be amusing. Then again, tone is everything. And Death is kinda...old.

A few months ago, I was procrastinating on some real writing work with Pinterest when I came across a ton of Lorde picture edits. I do really like her music despite the fact that I'm not particularly drawn to pop, and finding her interviews was interesting. She's very level-headed without ever not being a teenager--she laughs and she has snarky remarks and yet she's very reserved. Her live performances are fascinating too.

It's all kinds of little things--the strength of her voice in contrast to her age, the image she's crafted for herself, her presence on stage, the way she's always playing with her hair or how she sways to her music, the content of her lyrics--that can make her so mesmerizing.

I'd been trying to settle on a look for Death since I started jotting down snippets. Watching Lorde perform Buzzcut Season and Royals on Studio Q kind of cemented an image in my head. (Seriously, look at her hands as she sings. Also, the fact that she's bathed in red light and dressed in black probably helps.).

So whenever I think of my Death, I think of Lorde.*
(an edit I found on Pinterest. I love that line).
Gaiman's Dream design was based off The Cure's frontman Robert Smith and Bauhaus's Peter Murphy. And Murphy in turn partially inspired the design of Eric from The Crow. (It's all connected!).

Those might be graphic novels--and I still need to read Sandman--but it feels like I'm honoring some sort of tradition.

Anyways (if it existed) Death Awakens doesn't have a plot yet. For the most part, I just have snippets. She's as finicky as a real teenage girl--can't really decide if she's willfully evil or just passing by and doing what she thinks is right. I don't know if that's a character trait that will stick or if it's just me trying to figure her out, but it's progress.

Other manuscripts are still my priority, of course. Vanguard's Exodus is kicking my ass and Millennium Girl thinks it's funny when I cry in frustration at edits, but I like having side stories just floating around, waiting. While thinking of Death Awakens, I also realized this: my fictional body count has gone down a lot.

When I think about it, more than half the cast of Redemption had planned deaths before I was even at the halfway point of the first book. That duology was going to end in death after death after death, and it was a direct contrast of how pretty much everyone makes it out alive in the first book.

The justification was that I was writing about a war. There really wasn't a way around the death of my characters. As time has passed, however, it's changed drastically. I didn't take out that many people in Ataraxia, and that might just have been because the cast was smaller.

I'm wondering what changed. I don't think I've grown softer--in fact, I think the level of brutality in my stories is pretty much the same as it was when I was thirteen, just discussed differently. I wrote about graphic things back then, I'm still writing about them now.

This whole thing got me thinking about a conversation I had with a friend, Silvia, shortly after she read Wintergirls. We were talking about how much we dislike it in books when characters die and literally five pages later, the surviving cast just doesn't care. They forget, they keep going, whatever the case. It's never mentioned again--or just in passing--and nobody dwells on it. Wintergirls was about the only book that dealt with the death of a character properly.

And the thing is. . .Wintergirls spends the entire book dealing with the aftermath of a death (the main character's best friend). It changes the protagonist, it messes with her, it's the entire driving force of the story. The dead friend haunts the book in every way imaginable.

I'd like to think that's why my death count has gone down so much. Partially because the stories are different--I haven't written about a full on war for some years now. But also because it's the kind of thing that can't be just a passing mention. It can't be background or fodder for some tension. It needs to hurt and it needs to linger to the point of it being unbearable.

I'm not sure yet how this will play into Death Awakens, but it certainly gives me some perspective for other stories.

*This sentence is really weird with alternative spelling/punctuation. Just putting that out there.


  1. Anonymous1:03 PM

    Yeah! @_@ Deaths are people too! ...sorta.


"Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century... The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists...which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science..."
- Carl Sagan, in his message to future explorers of Mars.