The Grinch got a wonderful, awful idea. . .
Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit like Dr. Seuss’s famous villain. To put this in context, I should say I’m working on the second novel of a contract with DAW books, writing dark medieval fantasy.
One of the terrible attractions to being a writer (not just for me, I think) is that one can torture, maim, antagonize and in all other ways be mean and nasty to people who don’t even exist. It gives you a great outlet for aggressions–and it can all be done in the name of creating tension for the reader. You want the reader to feel worried for your characters, to fear for what might happen next, and to eagerly turn the pages to find out.
And I feel a keen sense of excitement when I come up with an idea that both ties in beautifully to the themes of the book and results in ruining a character’s life. These ideas often emerge from intense focus on the scene at hand, and often on a particular problem I want to solve. I walk around thinking about it. I write the story problem on an old business card and keep it in my pocket. I think about it as I lie down to sleep. . .
then I can’t actually sleep because there is the idea, as if it were waiting for me all along. Like Athena springing fully armed from the head of Zeus. Oh, there you are! Or perhaps, in the mode of J. R. R. Tolkein, “So you have gotten here at last!”