I've been in hard core editing mode for the last couple days. I've had to be. My project, The Commons, is due out to beta readers by the fifteenth, and I'm not nearly done with it. Unfortunately I've hit a little bit of a glitch.
Usually these glitches occur when I'm finding myself having to rewrite a scene. I hate having to redo work that I've already done. It doesn't matter that I know the scene will be so much better when I'm done the rewrite, it just kills me to throw out those words and start over fresh.
This time, though, it had absolutely nothing to do with the editing or rewriting. It has to do with the scene itself.
This particular scene isn't one I enjoyed writing in the first place. In previous projects I've had torture scenes that I've thoroughly enjoyed writing, but this one, well, nothing could be further from the truth. I knew it was coming the entire book, of course. I had it written into the very plot. A character was supposed to die.
Here's the thing about books. They never quite turn out the way you thought they would. In fact, there's always some element that changes between the plot and the actual first draft. In this project, that change was the character that had to die.
Originally that girl was a nobody. Somebody that popped up for the simple sake of killing her off. I wasn't supposed to get attached. My characters weren't really supposed to get attached. They should know her, but they shouldn't care about her. Unfortunately that didn't happen.
Okay, I say unfortunately, but I don't really mean that. The change was a good thing. If my characters hadn't gotten attached, the death wouldn't have meant as much. It wouldn't have had the impact that I know it's going to have on my readers, once it makes it that far. I love how it turned out, and I wouldn't change it for anything.
The problem is, that's the same effect it has on me. I loved her. She was this quiet little girl who hung around in a library, but she had backbone. Courage that nobody really knew she had until that last moment. I loved her because she was afraid, and she still tried to do what she thought was best. At least for her. I loved her.
Editing that scene was so much harder than I thought it would be. I found myself not wanting to read it. It's a gruesome death. Reading it made me cringe, which was exactly how I want my readers to react. If they don't already hate the people who do that to her, I want them to as of that moment.
It just wasn't supposed to happen to me. I wasn't supposed to be that effected by it.
I know I'm not the only one whose ever been through this. I've heard other writers having the same problem as me. We all want our writing to effect other people, but don't think about how we'll feel as we're writing or editing it.
It's one of the challenges we face as writers. We have to get past those scenes. At least enough to get it written well. To make other people feel what we want them to feel. But we need to distance ourselves, at least a little, from the books that we're writing so that we can do what needs to be done, to get that book to where it needs to be.