Killing Your Darlings by Ryan Lawrence – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Ryan Lawrence will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Killing Your Darlings

I was once asked if it was difficult to “kill one’s darlings.” Let’s look at this more broadly than just the mechanism of “killing off a primary or popular character for plotline purposes,” but I will get to that in a moment, not to worry. Now, it takes courage and fortitude to cut storylines you’ve worked tirelessly on and edit out characters you believe add flavour and personality to your work. How can you think only some of what you’ve written is gold–it’s all great stuff! Maybe it is, but it’s likely not, and here’s the thing–not everything you write is essential for your story, anyway. And all of this is okay. Still, it is hard to accept, especially for new writers. I know it was for me.

Recognizing that something is unnecessary, too long or derivative can be difficult because you initially think everything you write is best-selling stuff. The idea that something you’ve worked hard on should be removed because it doesn’t contribute to a tighter plotline or a more coherent narrative is a tough pill to swallow. The act of editing can feel discouraging and daunting, but it will eventually, sooner than later, trust me, begin to feel freeing, if not invigorating. Cuts are necessary to produce the cleanest, best work possible. Once you see the story’s plot flow more fluidly and the remaining characters’ personalities and poignancy are given more time and space to flourish, the discouragement will disappear. Remember, before discarding (or deleting!) the remains of edited-out text, including dropped characters, see if anything can be reworked into the story another way. Cleaner. Or keep it around for use in a future project. You never know.

As far as orchestrating the demise of a beloved or entertaining character–or characters, I can’t speak for anyone else on this, but for me, it’s never been much of a problem. Regarding the villain, it can be a lot of fun to think of creative and exciting ways to off them, so they get their just deserts. It’s amusing for a writer. But when you realize the death of a main character, like your protagonist, or even just a likeable one (who doesn’t deserve it), will create a better, more satisfying ending or plot twist, I can see how it would be difficult to “let go.” But writing is emotional, which means heartbreak and unfairness as much as justice and satisfaction are fair game. Even when a character wasn’t intended to perish in your story’s outline, but as you wrote further, their death becomes organically necessary or perhaps unexpectedly exciting, what must be done must be done. The best story possible shouldn’t be derailed by personal character attachment.

So in answer to whether it’s difficult to kill one’s darlings, yes, it can be. Admittedly, it was a bit in the beginning, with my first novel, Vindictive, but only because I wasn’t sure if I was killing the correct characters off or even if I was killing enough of them off. (How shocking!) With subsequent work, like Vindictive Too, I fully understood the necessity of not playing favourites or holding back. If the death of a character, ANY CHARACTER, will evolve my story into something more significant, satisfying, entertaining, and unexpected than “OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!” Of course, my mother has warned me that there’s a particular hunky character she’s grown very fond of whose death would make her VERY UPSET. I might need to consider this as I write the third book in the series. (Or not! HA!)

The best revenge never includes forgiveness. To truly punish the guilty, something worse must be done to them.

A chain of vengeful events is set in motion when a man’s brutally murdered body is found in an alley behind a seedy bar. Inspector Declan James is put on the victim’s case, only to discover his intimate connection to the slain man. After a not-by-chance meeting with the mysterious Véronique, a woman on a mission to right a terrible wrong, Declan finds himself mired in an intricate web of corruption, lies, and coverups.

Marie and Jacques Bergé, the owners of the internationally renowned Château Bergé, act publically as the pinnacle of society and wealth, but behind closed doors, their lives are in turmoil. From Marie’s erratic behaviour and bizarre disappearances to Jacques’s not-so-secret love for another woman, Fairporte’s “it” couple teeters on the edge of destruction.

In the shadows, a bearded man, powerful and dark of heart, secretly orchestrates his machiavellian manoeuvres from a place of sadism and despair.

From the bustling core to the rustic outskirts of Fairporte, ON, secrets, suffering, and rage are found everywhere. As the cruel desire pain, the wronged seek retribution, and the fragile break, will anyone get their revenge before death or madness claim them?

Enjoy an Excerpt

The alley was off Vanier Avenue in a less-than-savoury section of Fairporte continuously ignored by developers, including the Bergé family and Cartell Worldwide. Plans for gentrification had yet to be proposed by city officials. Declan was familiar with the area, having frequented several of its local watering holes.

This part of the city was home to many of Fairporte’s undesirables and unwanted. The seedy bars, the strip clubs, and most non-white collar criminals thrived here.

Declan was looking for anything he might have missed. He had a feeling, a hunch that something small but pivotal during the initial lookover had remained unnoticed. He had to find that obscure piece of evidence. Declan made it his mission, his responsibility.

He recalled the male victim’s clothes were nothing but tatters of fabric: slashed, ripped, and bloody. They held no discernible shape or style to offer aid in identifying the poor bugger. Even the tags and labels had been removed.

Severely beaten, the body had been robbed of all identification and personal belongings. All digits had had their pads burnt off. Declan thought that was excessive, but it could suggest a professional hit. Worst of all, the victim had been shot in the face and skull several times.

His detective prowess exhausted, Declan considered the body currently unidentifiable. He had faith that Forensics would eventually discover its identity.

It? Declan quickly corrected himself. Him! While a lack of respect for a victim’s corpse had infected many of his colleagues, Declan refused to give in to that dehumanization. He fought to stay compassionate, and sometimes he failed, but he refused to stop trying.

About the Author:Ryan Lawrence was born and raised in Guelph, ON, and he is a graduate of the University of Guelph in English Literature. Ryan lives in London, ON, with his husband, Todd, their cat Dora, and his massive comic book collection that once fell on Todd. He’s okay.

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A Difficult Lesson For Any Writer To Learn by Ryan Lawrence – Guest Post and Giveaway

This is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Ryan Lawrence will be awarding a $15 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

A Difficult Lesson For Any Writer To Learn

As an author, one of the most challenging parts of the writing process is knowing when to stop. What does that mean exactly? Well, when you write your story, you have to understand that there comes a time when the rewrites and the editing process have to reach a final stage of acceptance that the story is complete. While I do not wish to speak for anyone but myself, I think it is safe to say that it is a common thing many writers have to feel like they could do more, write more, edit further, and tighten or tweak that last bit of storyline to make it perfect.

But what is perfection? How do we make something perfect? Is that even attainable? I spent months upon months going over my novel, rewriting and editing back and forth to make sure my sentences were tight, my storylines made sense, and my timeline flowed seamlessly. Of course, the more I went back to my story, the more “opportunities” I saw to adjust and make perfect. It became a rabbit hole I fell into, and I could not see a way out. I had blinded myself to any potential path out of this trap of perfectionism.

I had my novel, Vindictive, professionally edited and Beta tested; even still, I could not trust anyone but myself to tell me my story was ready for publication. The thought that I had only one chance to make a first impression crippled me. What if someone thought my novel was not well-written or thoughtful or exciting or—?! And there is that rabbit hole of self-doubt and perfectionism I was stuck in.

Eventually, my husband had had enough of seeing me on this hamster wheel and intervened. He asked me several poignant questions. Did I write this book for my own sense of creative fulfillment? Did I write this novel because I had a story to tell? Did I write this story for myself and hope it would resonate with like-minded people? Did I do everything I could to make it literarily professional and accessible? Did I understand that it’s okay if not everyone likes it, gets it or appreciates it?

Talking with my husband about my goals helped me clear my head and realize that perfection only exists in the worldview of people who want everyone to like them and, by extension, everything they produce. I soon realized that what I had written was something I had read a hundred times and still enjoyed, was still proud of, and that was enough.

Perfectionism is a trap and an unrealistic expectation for human beings who are, naturally, imperfect creatures. But it is in the attempt to understand that imperfection that makes a writer the creative artist they are. Sometimes you have to get out of your own way to see the truth, and having someone you trust to help you see the path clearer is a gift one should never take for granted.

The best revenge is revenge. Getting it is all that matters.

Jules Cartell has it all: wealth; beauty; a handsome, loving husband; a partnership in her father’s law firm; and the top executive position at one of Canada’s leading corporations, Cartell Worldwide. Aside from her secret, problematic desire for the married owner of the internationally renowned Château Bergé, Jules believes she and her life are pretty perfect. But the discovery of an unforgivable crime perpetrated against her family by her husband, Phillip, years before the two met sets Jules down the path of revenge. There is no option for forgiveness. Phillip has to pay. An eye for an eye.

It is said that when seeking revenge, you should dig two graves. Someone from Jules’s past, someone aggrieved by her actions, seeks vengeance for themselves. This is an enemy without compassion, without morality, without mercy. An enemy who will accept no restitution short of Jules’s death.

In the city of Fairporte, ON, secrets, lies, and betrayal can be found everywhere. As adversaries close in, will Jules get revenge before her past catches up with her? Unexpected allies may be instrumental to her success. They may also be the key to her very survival.

Enjoy an Excerpt

She cried for Ethan and for the bright-eyed girl she could no longer be. Jules wanted to run away from this place of death. She also wanted to run away from her selfish choice to ensure her survival, her future. Jules wished all of it had never happened. But it did happen, and she would have to live with it for the rest of her life.

“Ethan! No! Ethan!”

Startled, Jules quickly turned and looked in the direction of the shrieking bellow. It was William, tearing down the woods, screaming his brother’s name over and over again.

Having discovered his charges missing from the house, William had reluctantly gone about searching for them outside. Sadly, it was not soon enough to intervene and prevent the devastating incident.

When William finally reached the clearing, he stopped at the edge of the lake and looked out upon the scene of broken ice and still water. With clenched fists, he fell to his knees and screamed in anguish. His brother was dead and gone, swallowed whole by the cold, murky depths.

Angrily turning towards Jules, William showered upon her a rage so pure, so palpable it might as well have been a physical smack across her face. His glare was full of hate. And so were his words.

“Why didn’t you help him, you fucking bitch?! You did nothing! You let him drown!”

Jules stood as immobile as a stone and ate her emotions, swallowing all her sadness, guilt, and self-reproach. She owned the choice she had made. The only one possible. The correct choice. She understood William’s pain, but she was well aware of his vile nature.

Jules had her suspicions of what might diffuse her attacker: using his own words—his ignorance and prejudice—against him. Maybe then he would leave her alone. She had only done what was necessary. All she could do.

And who was he to blame her anyway? Was he there when it happened? No! He had been too busy playing video games to look after them, too busy to save his brother, too busy to have prevented all of this in the first place.

Be mean, Jules silently told herself. Act like a grown-up.

With unwavering resolve, staring William down with cold, hard eyes, Jules scoffed, “What the hell could I have done? I’m just a girl. Right?”

About the Author:
Ryan Lawrence was born and raised in Guelph, Ontario. He is a 2000 graduate of The University of Guelph in English. Ryan has worn many hats professionally, including working over 12 years as a custom art framer. While writing has always been a part of his life, it was only after leaving this profession that Ryan seriously took his education and passion for writing by the horns and began the journey towards Vindictive, his first novel.

Since 2002, Ryan has lived in London, Ontario, with his husband, Todd, together since 1997, their cat Dora, and his massive comic book collection that once fell on Todd. He’s okay.

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