Death, Destruction, and a Beautiful Boy

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about death and destruction lately.  I grew up in a town that was rife with it, all of it.  People died in fires and mine shafts.  Car accidents and drownings.  Suicides and accidental shootings.

There was a boy.  I knew him since before I could remember.  One day his best friend was killed in a car wreck, and I heard about it before he did.  There was a basketball game that night at the high school.  I hated those things, but for some reason I showed up, who knows why.  I was watching when his mom pulled him out onto the front lawn. She told him what had happened.  I watched his face change color and he collapsed on the grass.  His mom helped him up, put her arm around his shoulders, and pretty much carried him back to the car.  His eyes were rolling up and he kept forgetting to move his feet.

It’s 15 years later, and whenever I think of him, that’s what I remember.  It was perhaps the worst moment in his life, and I was in the background like some voyeur.  Still, it was a an amazing moment in it’s raw tragedy.  I saw the inner workings of him for a little bit, and it has obviously stayed with me.  He is much more real than he ever was before.  More dimensional.

This is what I want to bring out in my characters.  I want them to busily go about their lives and then I want something to happen that brings out their insides.  I want them to bleed truthfulness.  I want the facade of ordinariness to be ripped away so that the reader realizes the character is really so much more than previously thought. I want them to shine.

0 Comments on “Death, Destruction, and a Beautiful Boy”

  1. Man, Mercedes. That’s the stuff. I think we are most “real” in times of stress, times of trial. Best of luck making your characters bleed (truthfulness).

  2. That, m’dear, is just beautiful–characters bleeding truth out of their insides. ‘Tis truly something toward which to aspire.

  3. If you can reach into the memory that well Mercedes, you’ll have no problem creating your characters the way you want. Anyone who can feel as deeply as you’ve just described has the greatness inside of them.

  4. This is perfect. I think that is our aim as a writer to show these characters, whatever their situation, in their most raw and vulnerable moments. Great.

  5. About ten years ago, I was in the office at work when a friend of mine, Mike, was called into the office for an emergency phone call. He picked up the phone and I saw his face go pale. He kept accusing whoever was on the other end of lying to him. Then, he dropped the phone, stood there for a moment, punched the window, and then completely broke down. I felt so helpless that I could do nothing to help him (not to mention I didn’t know what had happened) That memory stays with me to this day.

    It turned out, by the way, that a drunk driver had hopped the curb in front of his house and ran over his two-year-old son, killing him instantly, while his wife was standing only a few feet away. So in this way, I feel the same as you do, and I try to bring out that naked emotion in my characters, as well, because I want them to SUCCEED in defeating their demons, rather than watch them give in, which Mike eventually did.

    Okay, long story. Sorry about that.

  6. A writer once told me that whatever I’m feeling- pain, hurt, fear, misery, panic etc. if I wanted to be a writer I had to learn to stop for a moment and look at myself and how I’m experiencing that emotion so I can use it later on…
    Real, deep characters are hard to create. It’s hard to make them breath and come alive, make their hearts beat but once you do that, they are more real and memorable than most ‘real’ people we meet in our daily lives…

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