Illustrated initials from a German fairytale book (1919 edition)

Writing Scenes of Pain

Now my writing is filled with a whole lot of pain and hardship and difficulties. Misery writes itself, as we all know. But that could lead you to the entirely wrong assumption that I enjoy inflicting pain upon my characters. I do not. The scene I wrote today felt as upsetting to write as it was for my MC(well, close at least). The current WIP is a first person narrative, which adds another level of upset to the whole thing. As I type I channel the sensation of touch, smell and taste into the descriptions, because that’s what my character is experiencing. There is a sense of responsibility here. If you make your darlings suffer, you have to make it good. Suffering not written well feels trite and like a betrayal of this person you have created.

And, unlike in life, suffering has to serve a purpose. We’ve all sat through a badly written show or movie where the protagonist seems endlessly knocked about, but learns nothing, does nothing, and the viewer in the end gets the uncomfortable impression the authors of the protagonist’s suffering are either a)getting some unsavoury sort of satisfaction from the whole thing or b) they keep writing the same thing in the hope the next plotline will eventually reveal itself. Which, as we all know, is the first sign of madness.

But here’s the rub: striking that balance, where the suffering of the MC serves a purpose but not in a too obvious and realistic way is the hard bit. And each time I take from my MC something they love, or inflict physical pain on them, I hope I get it right.