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  • Writer's pictureKimberly Jayne

Literary Sadist: Make Them Suffer

Updated: Aug 1, 2020

If there's one thing I relish about writing, it's making my characters suffer. Happy people with no challenges don't inspire page turning. Movies operate on the same premise. For instance, Far from the Madding Crowd, based on Thomas Hardy's 1874 novel of the same name, gives viewers the enduring question from beginning to end: What bad thing could happen next? And after that, what new horror could happen? The story is fraught with suffering and disappointments and love unrequited times three. Exactly why I liked it. I try to do the same thing with my stories.

Does that make me a literary sadist? Probably, but who doesn't enjoy seeing flawed characters reap the rewards derived from their most agonizing struggles so they can spring from the ashes of their misery into some sort of transformative happy dance. The farther they fall, the more gratifying their rise, I tell you. Of course, making them suffer requires we hurl betrayals and terror and shock and shame and all manner of bad juju at them. Muuu-ah-ah-ah. I'm getting excited just thinking about it. And then, we make them survive. What that survival looks like is one of the most rewarding aspects of telling stories. It calls on us to look inside ourselves and imagine what we would think and do in those situations, how we would feel and act if we were brave or desperate determined enough.

In my dark fantasy, Demonesse: Avarus, my protagonist is the virtuous, empathic daughter of an excommunicated nun. After months of erotic fantasies, she awakens into her new life as a seductive killer powerless to resist the moon's calling. This is everything she was raised not to be. Her idyll is shattered and she is thrust into a life-altering journey that will challenge everything she knows and mold her into the person she was born to be. It won't be easy. The rubber bands of tension are consistently stretched and tested so this character's story arc will be dramatic and, I hope, as gratifying to read as it was for me to write.

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