Wednesday, April 10, 2013

April Theme: MEAN, MEAN, ME
by Marcia Thornton Jones

I’ve been mean to my characters. Very mean.

I blamed a character for maiming a show dog. Pitted son against father. Then I forced him to sacrifice the dog he’d grown to love (Champ).

I embarrassed a kid with a grandfather suffering from early stages Alzheimer’s. Made his life miserable from bullying. Then I made him choose between ratting out his own grandfather or staying out of trouble in order to get something he wanted (RATFINK).

My characters have had to save the world from vampires, werewolves, zombies and a legion of other monsters, creatures, and things that go bump in the night (BAILEY SCHOOL KIDS).

Then I turned things around and created worlds in which characters found themselves on the uncomfortable side of protecting ghosts (GHOSTVILLE ELEMENTARY) and monsters (BAILEY CITY MONSTERS).

I took three normal kids and put them in charge of saving the world from bad magic determined to take over. I provided a wizard to guide them, but then had the wizard kidnapped and frozen in stone (KEYHOLDERS).

I’ve given a kid a family legacy to live up to and a father worth emulating. Then I killed off the father and left the kid on his own to navigate a world full of fear, prejudice, war, and grief (WOODFORD BRAVE).

Right now I’m working on a book in which a character makes one teeny-tiny decision in an effort to earn parental respect. That one choice results in the entire town being threatened with obliteration. You know what? It’s hard being a kid when you might be responsible for the annihilation of the entire human race.

Yes, I’ve been mean. I created worlds full of problems; making my characters suffer emotional distress and physical peril in their journeys to becoming the people they were meant to be. But all those things pale in comparison to what I did to Ely.

Ely lives in an apocalyptic world with a foe determined to do her and her family harm. But THAT’S not the meanest thing I did to her because Ely is strong. She has talent and ability and fortitude. I’m pretty sure she could save herself and conquer her foe. But she hasn’t. Why not? Because I plunked Ely in a messy world and then turned my back on her; leaving her stranded in a story that I never bothered to finish. I never wrote that words that let Ely fight, grow, and transform.

So, the absolute cruelest thing I’ve ever done to one of my characters?

I. Didn't. Write. Her. Story.


  1. Well, Marcia, now you MUST finish writing it! Don't leave poor Ely (or us!) hanging...

  2. Great post! Wonderfully wicked of you, Marcia! And I know just what you mean. I have a few characters struggling in quicksand waiting for me to rescue them. You are going back for her, aren't you?!

  3. I have no doubt you'll get to Ely...I can't wait to see the finished product!