Writers: Life Personified | Teen Ink

Writers: Life Personified

June 20, 2015
By E.D.M98 PLATINUM, Woodbury, New Jersey
E.D.M98 PLATINUM, Woodbury, New Jersey
21 articles 0 photos 2 comments

The other day I ended up writing a rather tragic scene — the death of a woman in childbirth, who was also the beloved sister of my protagonist. Taken in context (an origin story of sorts for the Evil Queen in Snow White), it make sense, reality- and plot-wise, as a defining moment in the protagonist's life. But even as I was writing the scene, I recognized how terribly sad it was, as the sister tells her last good-byes and 'I love you's', and my protagonist and her sister's husband are obviously distraught; add the presence of the newborn baby who's just lost her mother, and it's positively depressing. My heart hurt even as I kept typing, and I began thinking of ways I could make it less depressing – shorten the scene; cut the sister's dying dialogue; start the scene with the sister already dead – but then I realized, I needed to keep all those depressing details in for the very reason that they make it depressing.

When people, writers, write, we pour not just grammar and syntax and coherent thought onto the page, but also emotions and dreams and experience; we know our writing is good if it can cause even us to react to it. The reason I kept writing that scene even though it hurt me (barring the theory I am either sadistic or masochistic, which I promise I am not!) was beause that was how the scene had to play out, in that exact painful way, for the story to reach its full potential. Some people compare writers to God, as we are creators and masters of our own worlds, but I think it is more appropriate to think of writers as Life, or Fate even. We create these characters, put them in their places, and control their actions with our words, but when inspiration for their story strikes, it is not always of a pleasant nature, because life is not always pleasant. It is more as if we record these characters' lives rather than dictate them, forced to witness the terror and heartbreak and pain alongside the joy and love and happy moments.

It can be argued that a writer has the power to give their protagonists an easy road all the way through – normal childhood with two loving parents; having a good, strong friend or friend group; a mentor/teacher or secret scroll that explains exactly how to defeat the Big Bad villain (if that even exists in that kind of world) – but what kind of story would that be? Such a heaven is what I believe God is really all about, but again, writers are not gods, and must have the courage to put their characters through hardships and pain – the courage to give them a life that, if not comparable to the readers', then is at least recognizable as a life that will make your character grow and change and mature. It is a writer's responsibility even to give their character insecurities and scars – as the band Papa Roach proclaims in their song "Scars", "The scars remind me that the past is real."

That's what everyone – readers, characters and writers – really want: a past, a backstory, that is believable, real, and that means tragedies and wounds that leave scars.

Hopefully this has helped reassure other writers that it's okay to be a little more cruel, a little harsher on their characters, and not convinced them I'm a blood-thirsty pyscho. I'm actually a very nice person and would never hurt you – just don't be a character in my book.

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