Author Dilemmas

An author faces many dilemmas in the course of writing a story, of whatever length. Some of them are minor (word choice, sentence structure, etc), though no less important than the major ones. But some are huge and plot-changing. One of the largest is whether or not to kill off a particular character, or simply to maim him a bit, but let him live. Obviously, this can have a significant impact on the plot of the story and development of the other characters.

Usually this dilemma works itself out over the course of the writing, but it may take a few switches back and forth to decide. For instance, a character in my current WIP is the love-interest of my main character, until she discovers he’s actually her brother (yes, I’m pulling a Star Wars, don’t judge). However, I had a fit of peevishness a few weeks ago and wrote a scene involving him being savaged by a hippopotamus. Whether or not he survives the attack is a bit of a dilemma. If he survives, it will entail more scenes of the two reconciling their newly-discovered relationship with each other. But if he dies, it will leave the main character to wrestle with her feelings without his input.

Currently, I’m leaning toward allowing him to live as a cripple for the sake of added character tension and conflict. I may have another fit of pique and change my mind before the end of the first draft. And once the draft is finished, I may change it back and be forced to add him back into the cast during revisions.Right now, it’s still a major dilemma.

To paraphrase Shakespeare: To live, or not to live?


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