Saturday, May 20, 2017

Be a Killer Queen

The Darling Buds of May/Kill Your Darlings inspired our May theme for YAtopia. And my post today is inspired by Queen's kick-arse song Killer Queen. 

Why? Because I want to be a Killer Queen. As in, I need to be prepared kill more characters in my series. I feel like it's something I've shied away from, despite having a homicidal super soldier as a character in my series, there has been a total of three deaths, and two of those were 'off-stage'. 

It's not like I want to get all George R. Martin and kill off  a truck load of characters, but I need to know when it's okay to kill my little darlings for the sake of the story, and to improve the reader experience. 

Now you may be asking, how does killing off characters make for an enjoyable experience for the reader. It doesn't always, especially if there's no good reason for it, but if the story needs to show characters being ruthless, having ambition, and a lack of respect for human life, then killing off characters can be a way to do that. 

A great example of this is A Court Of Fives. One of my 2017 Pitch Madness Team members recommended this to me to help me tackle the world building for my first ever fantasy attempt. The book is Roman Empire inspired, and is filled with political intrigue, defined classes and ruthless ambition. I won't spoil the story for you, but there were multiple times where death was depicted, either of supporting cast members, or scenery characters, and the impact on me was quite strong. I was often floored, not expecting it, but it supported the world building and the character development within the story, and overall cemented the story as one of the most exquisitely crafted series I've ever read. 

I know to achieve this I need to hang up my pantser pants and put on my plotter pants on. And thanks to finally taking the plunge and purchasing Scrivener, I'm hoping to become a converted plotter, and to kill many a darling in my pages. 

Sharon M. Johnston is an Australian author of YA and NA novels. her Open Heart Series is out now with City Owl Press. 

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