30 Days of Writing #24: Willing to Kill Characters? Most Interesting Killing?

24) How willing are you to kill your characters if the plot so demands it? What’s the most interesting way you’ve killed someone?

I’m always willing to bump off my characters if that’s what the story involves. I’m also willing to maim, stab, defenestrate, mutilate, burn, and otherwise seriously inconvenience my characters — if it’s part of the story. Otherwise, their reps complain.

Also, I’m not going to tell you the most interesting way I’ve killed someone. Haven’t you ever heard of the statute of limitations and how it doesn’t apply? I mean… oh. You mean what’s the most interesting way I’ve killed one of my characters. Riiiight. Well, let’s see. There are some juicy ones in Brutal Light, but I’d rather not spoil them. Same for True Places. My published short fiction is low on killings. As for Superguy… well, to count as being killed, do the characters have to stay dead? (And let’s not even mention SfStory, where getting killed leads to an exciting new career in Hell’s space armada…)

30 Days of Writing #23: How Long to Complete a Story?

23) How long does it usually take you to complete an entire story — from planning to writing to posting (if you post your work)?

Depends on the story. A typical short story for me might take a month — possibly more, if I decide to let it lie between drafts for a while so I can come back to it with fresh eyes. My novels (Brutal Light and True Places) have taken two years each, though that was with the luxury of not having deadlines to meet. When I do have deadlines, I can make things go a lot quicker, believe me.

30 Days of Writing #22: Never Written or Revealed Scene?

22) Tell us about one scene between your characters that you’ve never written or told anyone about before! Serious or not.

Okay, this is just a very odd question. ‘Never written’ I get. There are scenes that go unwritten all the time – sometimes because it’s more effective if such events take place ‘off-page,’ or because of pacing requirements, or to heighten suspense, or… you get the idea.

‘Never told’… is the part that makes less sense. Sure, there are scenes that I haven’t ‘told’ anyone about. Usually these are scenes that are, as yet, unwritten, though I know just what is going to happen in them. There may be scenes in a given character’s backstory that won’t ever get written and may only ever get teased out to readers, but I doubt that’s what the question writer was getting at.

So… I’m taking a pass on this one. Sorry.

30 Days of Writing #21: Writing Children?

21) Do any of your characters have children? How well do you write them?

With one major exception, I have largely avoided writing child characters. As far as my Superguy writing goes, only a couple characters have kids, and I didn’t write much featuring them until they were at least in their mid-teens. My adult novels and short stories have not featured child characters in any capacity–they just weren’t relevant to the stories.

The one exception is Onyx Fire, the children’s fantasy book I co-wrote with my wife, and which is currently in search of a publisher. That one featured an elementary-school age girl as the primary protagonist, with assorted other kids and talking animals in other roles. I like to think I wrote them well, but the credit likely belongs more with her.

30 Days of Writing #20: Favorite Character Interactions?

20) What are your favorite character interactions to write?

I find that the scenes with two characters talking with their guards up are the most interesting to write. Especially if there’s secrets being withheld on both sides, and the characters are both trying to pry those secrets out without it being obvious that that’s what they’re doing. I don’t know what it is about these charged discussions that attracts me, but they always draw my full attention once I’ve started writing them.

My second favorite character scenes are the ones where intensely weird and dangerous stuff appears to be happening all around, and the character is trying to figure out how to react. This happens fairly often.

30 Days of Writing #19: Favorite Minor Character Shoving Into Spotlight?

19) Favorite minor that decided to shove himself into the spotlight and why!

Alice Riesling, from Brutal Light. This is the sort of character that happens when I don’t rigorously outline before I write. She was dead before the start of the book, but got called back in so one of my less sane main characters could have someone to talk to. From there, it was a matter of her personality asserting itself, plus consideration of the whys and wherefores of how my main characters knew her, that propelled her into the spotlight.