Let them die!

I have a few pet peeves when it comes to stories. Love triangles. Zombies. Unnecessary swearing. Insta-love.

And CHARACTERS WHO WON’T STAY DEAD.

This is a plague that runs rampant in stories today, be they in books, TV shows, or movies. If a character you like dies, have no fear! The writer(s) will find a way to prove that the character actually cheated death. Even if this character has “died” three or four times before, there’s no need to worry.

Last night, I watched the newest Doctor Who. They brought back a character who died at the end of last season (who, incidentally, has “died” at least three times in the new series alone). Thirty minutes later, this character was “dead” once more. And I had zero emotional reaction. Because, seriously, people–when was the last time a main character actually died in Doctor Who? (You may bring up a certain beloved character from season 8, but I’m not convinced he’s really dead for good, and I won’t be until Clara is long gone.)

(Which brings me to another obnoxious trend of the latest Doctor Who series–this stupid fixation on claiming that the Doctor is going to die. People. The ENTIRE STORY is based on the fact that the DOCTOR DOES NOT DIE. Cut the drama and find a more creative plot device.)

But seriously. If you’re going to kill your characters, make it count. Leave them dead and make your other characters (and readers) deal with the heartbreak. This is something I love about the Harry Potter series–even in a world of magic, characters who die stay dead. Not even the Resurrection Stone could truly bring someone back. The grief shapes the story and has a far more profound impact on the reader than a wishy-washy she’s-dead-but-no-she’s-not-just-kidding sort of event.

How do you feel about characters coming back from the dead? Are there any other plot devices that make you crazy?

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Out they come, the brainy specs!

Until recently, I had only owned two different pairs of glasses in my life, and I didn’t particularly like either of them. Contacts were my preferred method of being able to see, and my glasses existed pretty much to get me from the bathroom to the bedroom at night without running into anything.

However, as my glasses were two or three prescriptions behind and my contacts don’t agree well with Washington allergens, I decided it was finally time to get some glasses I didn’t mind wearing in public. And thus came . . . the brainy specs!

"You don't even need them. You just think they make you look a bit clever."

“You don’t even need them. You just think they make you look a bit clever.”

Unlike the dear Doctor, I do need my brainy specs, but I’m not against them making me look a bit clever. Or, you know, a bit more authory.

All right, enough goofing off. Time to get back to work. My writing is certain to be fabulously inspirational under the influence of such literary spectacles as those I wear.

Summer Rain

I was going to blog tonight, but after a day of editing, writing emails, and feeling particularly grumpy about the rain all day long, I don’t have the motivation to do it. I’ll be taking part in the “Meet My Character” blog tour in the very near future, but I just don’t have the brainpower tonight. So instead, I will leave you with a new vocabulary word very pertinent to this Washington rain that’s been pouring down nonstop since before the sun came up:

 

Petrichor:

The pleasant smell that rises with the first rainfall after a long, warm dry spell. Originates in the 1960s, built from petro (relating to rocks) and ichor (the blood of Greek gods).

Also, the name of the perfume that Amy Pond models for.

 

Although . . . there were the bees disappearing.

“Only mention something if you’re going to bring it up again.”

I can’t tell you how many times my husband has brought this up in our discussions of books, movies, TV shows, anything with a storyline. And you know what? It’s absolutely true.

The best storytellers make every word count. There is no room for extraneous details, because every detail affects the story somehow, no matter how small it may seem at its first appearance.

Prime example: the bees.

Doctor Who, season 4, episode 1. Donna wants to find the Doctor again, but how do you find a man who travels through space and time?

“I just thought, ‘Look for trouble, and then he’ll turn up.’ So I looked everywhere — you name it. UFO sightings, crop circles, sea monsters — I looked, I found them all. Like that stuff about the bees disappearing, I thought, ‘I bet he’s connected.'” (Partners in Crime)

Passing comment, bees stuck in there among crop circles and UFOs. My husband and I talked about it all the way through season 4, though I don’t know that the bees were even mentioned again, maybe once more before the end of the season. But were they important?

Oh, you know. The only way to find Earth in the season finale.

Other examples: Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak, inherited in book 1 and vital in book 7. The garlin that Sage rolls across his knuckles in The False Prince. The silver candlesticks that are so dear to the bishop’s heart in Les Miserables.

Those little clues, the details that come back after pages and pages of waiting—those are the things that make a reader squeal and encourage obsessive speculation. Don’t let all that speculation go to waste by leaving loose ends.