Apr 2, 2012

C is for: Creating a monster

One of the biggest books I'm anticipating for 2012 is Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore. I fell in love with Cashore's world while reading an ARC of Graceling in 2009 and her companion novel, Fire, did not disappoint.

Cashore said it's taken her three years to write the final in this trilogy in an interview with Enchanted Inkpot blog. One of the reasons she said she struggled was having to deal with Leck, a horrible, sadistic character that overlaps in all three books (and actually, his appearance makes them companion novels). Leck enjoys twisting people into doing his bidding.

" I can’t imagine ever writing more than a few pages from Leck’s viewpoint; I honestly think it would be bad for my mental health to try to do more," Kristin told her interviewer, Cindy Pon"He really doesn’t have a single redeeming quality, and writing the glimpses into his psyche was a disturbing experience for me."

That reminded me of a scene I'd struggled with a few days before. Creepy Guy wasn't even an MC - just a character I'd created to keep tension high. Oh, and he made my skin crawl. He had really bad urges and smelled like blood and  he had pustules all over his skin...ugh. I couldn't wait to kill him off. And I didn't wait. One brutal, gory scene later and bye, bye Creepy Guy.

I also avoid stories with characters like that who narrate. There's enough awful stuff in the world today without entering into the mind of a fictional killer, IMO. But there's no denying that they drive a whole genre of mysteries/thrillers, which is my preferred genre to both read and write. So sooner or later, I'm going to have to have a more than passing relationship with a nasty.

So...what do you do when you've got to pull a Dr. Frankenstein and crawl inside the monster of your own creation? How do you keep that slimey feeling from coating your brain while you plot?

18 comments:

elizabeth seckman said...

I once toyed with a scary plot line and abandoned the idea because I couldn't sleep without nightmares! I'd have to be a drinker to do writer horror!

Kyra Lennon said...

I've never had to write evil before! I don't think I could do it without freaking myself out lol!

Freya Morris said...

I've never written someone who is overtly so EVIL. Evil to me is more about manipulation of good and distorting it.

I think a sadistic character would be VERY hard - although I find it morbidly fascinating, I think it would make me feel constantly ill to think about stuff in that way.

Tobi Summers said...

I've never written from the point of view of my evil characters, but just writing a sadistic, sick character makes me question my only mental health sometimes. There's always that, "How could I create something like that?" moment. I'm a bit fascinated by the psychology of a character like that, but it scares me a little at the same time.

Damyanti said...

I'm writing chapters of my novel from the POV of my antagonist, his diary, actually, I need to stop from being nauseous.

--Damyanti, Co-host A to Z Challenge April 2012

Twitter: @AprilA2Z
#atozchallenge

Kimberlee Turley said...

I don't think I've ever exposed myself to the gruesome horror needed to write a villain that would give me or someone else the creeps. I can probably even count the number of R rated videos I've seen on one hand.

Scary is not my thing.

meradeth said...

I've never really tried writing from the POV of someone truly evil. It would be an interesting experience for sure, though not something I'd ever want to do for more than a bit!

Nikki said...

This was really interesting. I hadn't given much thought before to the ways in which I writer has to deal with the characters that they have created.

I like your blog, I'll be back to read more :) Have a lovely Tuesday!

Nikki – inspire nordic

S. L. Hennessy said...

I always feel kind of sympathetic to the "monsters" that are created. Particularly Frankenstein's monster. Poor guy. Great post!

M.J. Fifield said...

I can't WAIT to get my hands on Bitterblue next month!!


M.J. Fifield
My Pet Blog

T. Drecker said...

I'm a wimp - I'd scare myself if my character was too evil. But when I have a nasty character, I make sure good prevails - then I don't feel quite as bad.

Tamara Narayan said...

I had a terrorist badie in my first book and gave him a love of Beatles music. It didn't make him more likeable, but more creepy. But creepy was what I was going for. Giving the villian a trait 'nice' people identify with is a fun way to mess with reader's minds.

Andrew Leon said...

My trick to dealing with my villian in my Tib stories (the Man with No Eyes) is to never actually write from his POV but from the people he's after.

Hope Roberson said...

I love writing from the bad guy perspective! It's fun to make them scary and evil and then have my character defeat them with goodness :)

FeFiFo said...

Your blog is insightful, it is nice to find you through A-Z! :) When it comes to evil characters, I have struggled with whether I ever want to delve into the mind of an evil character and the answer for me is no. It would be a painful experience and even the writers I love (Steven King, Neil Gaiman) really never delved too deeply into evil. As Andrew said the POV was from the victims of the evil. Seep too deeply into the darkness and it might stick--look at Heath Ledger, Jack Nicholson tried to warn him.

Sangita Kalarickal said...

Great post. Reminds me of a book by Agatha Christie. It was definitely well crafted from the POV of the killer and also in first person. I loved the whodunit but I know a lot of critics had given her hell for it, thought she cheated the readers. Very tough.

Sarah Pearson said...

I have a guy in a wip who is a monster of the human kind, evil. It's hard, and I have to take breaks from him.

Lisa L. Regan said...

I watch a marathon of sitcoms after being in there. And in my second novel, I tried to make bad guy a lot more complex which helped but yeah, there honestly are people out there with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Makes me think of how we call some people animals like that's an insult when humans have a capacity for cruelty that animals don't even have.