Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Uses of Violence

The end of a really productive three-part discussion on violence in storytelling by David Blixt comes at an a propos time in the aftermath of the Red Wedding episode of the Game of Thrones series. It's well argued -- check it out!

I've never been sure why I was so strongly drawn to the story that is the basis for The Seven Noble Knights of Lara. It's violent, and I've never enjoyed stories that showcase violence for its own sake. So, it became my mission to present the violence in a way that would affect the reader deeply at the same time that it examines the conflict from both sides and humanizes the villains. Conflict is necessary for story, and a good story will show the conflict in all its subtlety and let the reader decide what it really means.

After all, this is not a new story. It's already been told in a formulaic and psychologically vacant way, so there's no point in retelling it unless I add value in the form of sympathetic characters with believable motives and emotions.

I began by trying to understand why the woman who apparently motivated the biggest violent act in the entire book -- Doña Lambra -- was moved to such outrageous and unbecoming behavior. Because I started with her, I fell in love with her, and deeply confused my beta readers and some people who read my first attempts at query letters and a synopsis. I also loved the proper "good guys" in the book, but the fondness I had for writing about Lambra skewed readers' perceptions of the González family in the wrong direction and failed to prepare them for the meaning of the gore to come. I've done a lot of editing and hope I've ended up with a nice, complex balance of characteristics and perceptions in both camps. Anyone can write a good hero, but a good villain is the mark of the great writer I want to be.

It's an epic story and I hope I've given each character the attention he or she deserves.

So anyway, if you liked or understood or enjoyed being devastated by the Red Wedding, The Seven Noble Knights of Lara has incidents that I hope affect the reader in a markedly similar fashion.

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