A few years ago, in order to quell the tedium of my 110-mile round-trip commute, I began listening to audio books. It quickly became an addiction. Though I write romance books, my supplier prefers murder mysteries, so that’s what I listened to. And hey, as expensive as audio books are, who am I to argue.
But then I listened to a book where the antagonist (bad guy) beat a poor, defenseless puppy to death. I stopped listening to the book immediately and got my own subscription to www.audible.com so I could listen to my own kind of books. Ones that do not involve the savage murder of innocent animals. I mean, seriously, who would want to listen to listen to such a book? More, what kind of person actually writes that kind of book?
And so I began listening to women’s fiction and romance novels, and listening to books on tape became safe again.
But recently, my friend and author Jansen Schmidt posted a blog entitled, Sometimes You Just Have to Kill ‘Em. In the post, Jansen talks about how upset her husband was when one of his favorite characters in a book he was reading was killed off. She argues that sometimes it’s necessary to kill off a character (for various reasons), and asks if any of us (writers) have ever killed off a character.
My reply? No, none of my characters have ever ticked me off enough.
And then Jansen, who is also my critique partner and has therefore read everything I’ve written, reminded me that I have indeed killed off a few characters.
Worse, she reminded me that, in my most recent work, I even killed a baby!
I gasped at the realization that she was right. But to be clear, I didn’t actually kill the baby; murder it in cold blood like the puppy-killing author. My character lost a near-term child. It is not the same thing. So not the same thing! Right?
What about you? Have you ever read something in a book that made you stop reading it?