Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Killing your characters

So two hot soldiers had a really great kiss on TV the other day.



Of course there are thousands of such kisses between men and women every week on TV--so portraying such tenderness between two men is wonderful to see.

But maybe next time the gay character won't be killed off. It's lazy to always kill off the gay character. It would take a lot of creative imagination to have the character live--and then to write the scenes where the father, the son and the lover have to deal with what's next.

We talked about killing off your characters in my fiction writing class last week. Sure there are great stories where the main character dies. Or where the already-dead character is the narrator or a key character (such as in Our Town, The Lovely Bones and Sunset Boulevard).

I love the way John Waters makes fun of killing off the death stock-plot in Polyester by randomly killing off most of the characters in the last few minutes of the movie.

Making the death workable and integral to a good story is one thing. But often times inexperienced writers kill off the main character because they've painted the story into a corner and don't know how to get out. Or "experienced" writers do it because pop media requires that sympathetic portraits of queers (or others engaged in taboos) end with with the queers somehow getting their "just desserts."

When I read student stories that end with a death, I encourage the writer to try to write one or two more endings just to see what happens. It's likely something deeper and more complex will emerge.

PS: Here's another gay kiss on recent TV, but it's not as hot because, well, it's at a wedding...

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