Character Attack

The character struggled, swore, and eventually climbed his way out of my manuscript.

“YOU!” he yelled.

I sighed. This was going to be one of those writing days.

“You – arsehole!” he yelled at me.

“Hi, Les,” I said, trying to act as though I hadn’t heard the abuse.

“Don’t patronise me, you towering, festering heap of dogshit!”

Maybe I shouldn’t have given him such a way with words.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

Did I mention that the right side of his face is a weeping old burn that’s never quite healed, he’s lost his right foot, and his right hand is more claw than useful extremity? No? Huh. I stay silent, appalled by the stink that comes through with him.

“WHY?” he yells, pleading.

I shrug uncomfortably.

“It’s all part of the story – it’s necessary, Les.”

“Bullshit! I had to get blown up for – what? Huh? For entertainment?”

“The story’s important. It has to – draw the reader in, keep them guessing.”

“And blowing me up was an example of keeping things interesting?”

“Well, yeah.”

“And killing Lucy?”

“She had to die, mate.”

“I’m not your fucking mate!”

Ye gads. Is this how God feels every time someone prays?

“Look… if she stayed alive, she would’ve become boring, unreal, the Reader would’ve hated her – and so would you.”


“It’s all part of the story, Les, trust me – it turns out good in the end. You’ll like it!”

“I’ve lost everything I ever cared about – lost my girlfriend and my job – you made me a cripple – and it’s going to be ‘good’ in the end?”


“Fuck you. And fuck your bloody Reader. Bunch of bloodthirsty barbarians! You’re just – playing with us, aren’t you? We’re just some entertainment for your tiny fucking brains, aren’t we?”

I definitely shouldn’t have made him so talkative. And what’s with the overuse of the F-word?

“Look, Les,” I say, reaching for him, “I’m sorry, OK? I know it all really sucks, right now. I cried when I wrote that scene where Lucy died. I wish it could have been different. I’m sorry you had to lose her, and your livelihood. I understand your anger. But – it had to be this way. The story wouldn’t come out any other way.”

“YOU – you could have made it come out different! You’re the AUTHOR, you have that power, you know you do, don’t blow me off with lame -”

“I don’t. Some things just have to be, Les. I’m sorry. I really am. But you’ve got two choices here – take the crap that happens and build something out of it, or don’t exist. Because I can’t tell a story about a place where nothing bad ever happens. It’d be boring as batshit and nobody would ever read it, and you still wouldn’t exist, not really. You’d have a – shut up! – a kind of twilight existence, right, where you kind of exist but mostly don’t. If you want to truly exist, you need to be read, to be loved, to have people holding their breath as you teeter and crying with you as you fall. THAT’S the magic that makes you truly alive.”

He slumps, out of arguments but not ready to accept reality, either.

“I hate you.”

“Uh huh… I know.”

He climbs, laboriously, back into his life – and cries.



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