Monday, December 02, 2013

Authors Are Sadists

(Previously posted on Write Minds Authors)

All authors are sadists. It's a fact, we have to be. It's really not our fault. Stories need action, they need conflict, how better to provide that than to hurl our characters into some difficult situation and watch them claw their way back out? Hardly seems sporting, does it?

I suppose we could blame our readers, right? I mean, if the book hasn't got at least one good argument or a brawl, they feel cheated. If they feel cheated, they won't buy our books. If they don't buy, we don't make money – so, conflict, drama, hardship, pain, anguish, suffering – ensue. Yes, blame it on the readers.

It seems really mean to create these characters only to watch them suffer. We make them fall in love with the wrong person who breaks their hearts. We kill off their loved ones and chase off their dogs. We leave them hanging from cliffs, flip over their cars and have them attacked by psycho killers, rabid dogs or murderous biker gangs. That's okay, I blame the readers for this too.

We are evil! How do we think of that stuff? Most of the authors I know are certainly not rabid dog chasing, murderous psychotic car flipping, cliff dangling bikers. So, how do we think of all this crazy stuff? I've never been in a gun fight or fought rampageous aliens in a sentient ship, but I can certainly describe it so my readers can visualize it. Honestly, I don't know. My characters get tangled in events that have never happened to me or anyone I know, yet I figure out ways to make them sound reasonable and plausible.

Some incidents in my stories really happened, but I elaborate on them, pushing the limits of believability to make a better story. Although the scene in The Ninja Tattoo where Teague finds himself in mysterious convoy on Riverside Drive, is based on something that really happened to me, I wasn't targeted for death. I didn't hide out at a cottage in the woods or take down my opponents with drug tipped knives. (Don't know what I'm talking about? Read the book.)

I'm pretty sure that nothing in Lone Wolf or Indian Summer is remotely related to my real life, yet I manage to put them through their literary paces as well. I'm not sure which of the characters get treated the worst. I'm sure they could argue the point with me until we were both hoarse. (Yes, my characters argue with me – deal with it.) Each of them would scream I'm meaner to them than the others and probably Manuel and Wil would be the most vocal. However, I contend that they are still alive at the end of the book and the villains are not, so maybe they should pipe down.

So readers, the next time you're reading a particularly sadistic book full of action, broken hearts and trauma, remember – you have only yourselves and the characters to blame. The author is, of course, completely innocent.

© Dellani Oakes


Allen Starbuck said...

One novel that comes to mind somewhat along this line is John Folwles' The Collector, published around 50 years ago. The main character kidnaps a young woman and imprisons her. He doesn't actually do anything else that you might expect, but what really gets creepy is that a pair of serial killers in California were inspired by the book, and followed the pattern--only much further. Charles Ng was the name of one, I don't recall the other. I seriously doubt Fowles intended that. I might add that as conflict is what makes a novel work, it makes me wonder how that dynamic applies to life.

Dellani Oakes said...

I'm sure Fowles didn't intend for that to happen. That's one reason I write the stuff I do. I don't want to be the one who puts horrible thoughts in someone's warped brain.

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