Thursday, July 10, 2008

Eureka shmereka

Sometimes I have to drag a new idea out of my brain by its heels, like with the recently gotten past mini block. Sometimes I get ideas from other places, like the astounding blog I was reading last night which made me think that next time I could maybe expand my horizons a little, instead of writing all nicey-nicey about suburban girls and their upper-middle-class woes. And sometimes I'm struck by lightning, like just now.

Samantha believes she was the cause of the drunk driving crash that killed her friend and her friend's cousin, and severely injured Sam, four months before. She's wrong -- it wasn't her fault, and coming to that realization is part of her very painful journey back to being human again. But in the meanwhile she blames herself, hates herself, holds it all inside, and lashes out at the people who try to help.

There was one last liquor-fueled party at the cousin's house; there was a fight between Samantha and her friend; the cousin appeared and suggested they go home; she drove them home; crash. Before now I had only a vague notion of what that fight had been about. It may have been about the sort of silliness that fifteen year old girls tend to fight about; it may have been the friend teasing Sam for the hundredth time about not going far enough at the parties they went to; it may have been Sam finally blowing her top and calling her friend a slut.

What I realized just now is that the fight was actually bits of all of those things, plus one other: the friend had revealed to Samantha that she was pregnant. That spawned the fight, which resulted in them basically getting kicked out of the house. So not only is Sam killing herself with guilt over the deaths of her friends, now she believes she's responsible for the death of an unborn baby as well.

I'll have to keep working on that one. I really like the idea, but I've long known that I have a tendency to pile on the misfortune when it comes to my protagonists, so it could turn out that's the old straw that broke the camel, etc. And yet it works, because it's a piece of knowledge so traumatic that it would have kept Samantha from noticing the myriad other clues from that last night that could have told her that it was, in fact, not her fault. Not remotely.

Sometimes I'm mean to my characters, but never without cause. There's always a reason, and they're always able to overcome it. After all, what else is literary misfortune for?

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