Believability in high stakes with paranormal fiction–can death be pulled off?

download (5)!SPOILER ALERT! I will be mentioning by name the death of a secondary character in a Nora Roberts’ Circle Trilogy book, and characters in a Joss Whedon film, so if you’d rather not know, don’t read further.

Okay…

I’m the the middle of reading Morrigan’s Cross by Nora Roberts, and King just died and I didn’t have the reaction I think I probably should have last night, and it made me start to wonder, and so because of that, I thought ‘hey, self, blog post!’

So this isn’t any well thought out treatise, but rather my thoughts this morning in case anyone else could add to this.

Anyway, here’s how my reading experience went last night when I got to that part of the book: I completely missed that he was dead. Sure, I read the lines where he was drop-kicked over the edge of a cliff, but it didn’t click with me that that equaled truly dead (it also happened extremely quickly). So I’m reading further along and the other characters are all angry and weepy and I’m confused, because my brain hadn’t registered it. I kept expecting for it to be a mistake, for King to stumble back and say “I’m not dead, caught a ledge guys” and everyone breathes a sigh of relief. But it hasn’t happened (yet) and this got me to thinking:

is it harder to convince a reader of a character’s death when writing paranormal fiction?

heck, even Sherlock Holmes survived a fall like this. Are we now trained to think that if we don’t actually see the death, it hasn’t actually happened in fiction because too many times authors have pulled the gotcha?

Even if you do pull a gotcha (And Nora might still pull one with King; I haven’t finished it yet), as a writer you’d want the reader to still believe the death happened. But you don’t want to yank them too much and this book is a great example of this. I remember thinking when these characters who make up the team were first getting introduced that I hoped Roberts wasn’t going to kill one of them, and that if she did, I’d be really pissed. But when it happened, I didn’t throw the book at the wall, so she’d skillfully not gotten me too invested in the character. Looking back, he’s the only one, besides Larkin, whose head we haven’t hopped into, Nora-Roberts-style. And killing off a team member is a great device to show the stakes are real (Serenity!). But even in Serenity, we saw both Book and Wash truly die. The stakes were real and felt/mourned at the time. Here, I’m not feeling it, yet I wouldn’t have wanted to feel it too much. So it’s definitely a hard line to navigate.

Anyway, that’s it. Just wanted to put this out there and see if anyone else had thoughts on this :)

Do you think it’s harder to pull off a death in paranormal fiction? Have you read this book–what was your reaction? (don’t tell me the end)

Weekend Grab Bag – From Writing Tips to Baumgartner Space Jump LEGO Reenactment!

Song playing right now on my playlist: “Pride (In The Name Of Love),” by U2

NEWS: This week MUST LOVE BREECHES won 1st place in FF&P’s On the Far Side contest in the time travel/steampunk/historical category and a full request from the judging editor. It also finaled today in the Windy City Four Seasons Contest, paranormal category

Writing and the Writing Life:

Browncoats:

In Geekdom:

Weekend Grab Bag – From Writing Tips to Stormtrooper Hygiene

Song playing right now on my playlist: “Begin the Begin,” by R.E.M.

NEWS: I will have some awesome news to report next week about MUST LOVE BREECHES (re: status in Query Land) and STEAM ME UP, RAWLEY finaled in its first contest (and the first one it entered), The Golden Pen, ironically beating out MUST LOVE BREECHES by less than a point (.7)

Writing and the Writing Life:

Browncoats:

Ada Byron Lovelace

  • This recently came across Publisher’s Marketplace: “James Essinger’s ADA’S THINKING MACHINE, exploring two interwoven human stories – the story of a man, Charles Babbage (1791-1871) and that of a woman, twenty-four years his junior, Ada Lovelace (1815-1851) and their involvement in the Analytical Engine, to Gibson Square, for publication in July 2013 (world).” SQUEE!!! (that last part was me of course, not PM) Now if only publishers would be convinced that MUST LOVE BREECHES could tie in with this :)

In Geekdom:

Weekend Grab Bag – From Writing Tips to Batman Spa (and some Firefly)

Song playing right now on my playlist: “Let’s Dance,” by David Bowie

NEWS: I signed my first contract! BEER AND GROPING IN LAS VEGAS, coming January 2013 from Secret Cravings Publishing!

Writing and the Writing Life:

Browncoats:

In Geekdom:

Weekend Grab Bag – From Writing Tips to Jar-Jar Binks Target Practice

Song playing right now on my playlist: “On the Radio,” by Regina Spektor

NEWS: MUST LOVE BREECHES finaled in the Celtic Hearts RWA chapter contest, the Golden Claddagh, in the paranormal category!

Writing and the Writing Life:

Browncoats:

  •  Last week I posted the announcement of the Firefly cast reunion at ComicCon. Now there are rumors that a big announcement will be made. Oh, please be true and be what we’re thinking!!
  • And I thought you’d enjoy this:

In Geekdom:

Weekend Grab Bag – From Writing Tips to Star Wars parody of Gotye’s ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’

Song playing right now on my playlist: “Me and Bobby McGee,” Janice Joplin

Writing and the Writing Life:

Browncoats:

In Geekdom:

  • And I’ll leave you with this, a parody of Gotye’s music video, “Somebody That I Used To Know” (h/t Stubby the Rocket):

Weekend Grab Bag – From Writing Tips to Harry Potter theme played on wineglasses

Song playing right now on my playlist: “Anywhere Out of the World” by Dead Can Dance

Writing and the Writing Life:


Browncoats:

In Geekdom:

  • And I’ll leave you with this, it’s the Harry Potter theme played on wine glasses:

Weekend Grab Bag – From Writing Tips to a Sendak/Avengers Mashup

Song playing right now on my playlist: “Take a Chance on Me” ABBA

Writing and the Writing Life:

Jane Austen:

Browncoats:

In Geekdom:

  • And I’ll leave you with this:

Weekend Grab Bag – From Writing Tips to Whedon as Bathroom Coach

Song playing right now on my playlist: “Monday Morning” Fleetwood Mac

Writing and the Writing Life:

Ada Lovelace:

Browncoats:
  • If you’d like to see a Serenity LEGO model crafted by LEGO, sign up here. Less than 900 votes needed to make this a reality!
  • Have you seen Avengers yet?? I can’t wait to get some Joss Whedon goodness. Am going today if I can…
  • Did anyone else catch Nathan Fillion live tweeting Out of Gas and Ariel last Sunday? It was really cool, but distracting, as I was doing word sprints at the time. Plus it was making me sad hearing him talk of his love of the show.
  • for some Whedon weirdness, check out Whedon as Bathroom Coach (h/t the Nerdist):

In Geekdom:

  • check out what the instructions are on Google Maps for the walking option, if you type in directions for The Shire to Mordor
  • And I’ll leave you with this:

Weekend Grab Bag – From Writing Tips to Vader Hugging a Unicorn

Song playing right now on my playlist: “Bittersweet Symphony,” by the Verve. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Writing and the Writing Life:

Romance Writers:

  • Sarah Wendell does an awesome post in reaction to 50 Shades and everyone in the media shocked to learn that women enjoy sex: Romance, Arousal, and Condescension
  • Merry Farmer writes an awesome post in reaction to a Philadelphia magazine article about the sorry state of the modern male which could explain why women like to read about Alpha males in romance: Where Have All The Good Men Gone?
  • Apparently we’re hitting the fruit too much, specifically cherries and berries, when describing nipples– this post will either have you chuckling or groaning: A Description of Nipples
  • Romance author Beth Dunn does an excellent and humorous overview of men’s fashion, specifically their pants, in the Regency and why some eschewed underwear (they didn’t want a panty line!) in her post at Wonders & Marvels: The Turn of the Leg

Ada Lovelace:

Jane Austen:

Browncoats:

And I’ll leave you with this: