“You did it again,” one of my critique partners thoughtfully pointed out. No, she wasn’t talking about the fact that I’d started five sentences on the same page with the word even—although she might have been. She was talking about my unrelenting physical abuse of my characters.
“Not that it’s a bad thing,” she went on to say. “Like for Kim [No Souvenirs]. He was a control freak and you gave him motion sickness. And Ian [An Improper Holiday], the perfectionist with the missing arm.”
Tony and Jack, minor characters in Regularly Scheduled Life, are getting their own book. By my “doing it again,” she meant my giving Jack an ulcer. Jack sees success in outward beauty, a perfectly presented entrée or a meticulously planned landscape while keeping his own flaws hidden. Bottling up secrets and shame is enough to give anyone an ulcer—another source of embarrassment for Jack.
I don’t start out hurting my characters this way. I don’t plan every bit of their existence at the beginning. I know who they are and what they want, but then other bits come to me. And seriously? It has to stop.
I have an overly keen imagination (A Bulletin from the Department of Duh). Sean’s migraines, Kim’s motion sickness and now this hole in Jack’s gut—I feel it all when I’m in their point of view. Call it revenge of the characters. I torture them; they torture me. Hmm. Does anyone have a convenient muse I can blame instead?