Sunday, September 14, 2014

My Empathetic Sadist

Blogging friend and fellow writer Krystal Jane has mentioned more than once in her posts that she is a character-driven writer. I think this means that she creates her characters first (or they instantaneously leap into her mind and demand to be written), and then she proceeds to find or fabricate the story world that would best serve these larger than life personalities. 

I'm the complete opposite. I guess you could call me a story-driven writer. I come up with my story concept first (which usually starts with a what-if scenario--i.e. "What if there was a society in which everyone could, with a single touch, transfer their pain?") and then proceed to create the characters that would best fit my concept. In other words, unlike Krystal, I've never had a character "demand" to be written (kind of sad, actually). A story concept, yes. A character, no.

Until now.

For the first time ever, I am being stalked by a character. I am so in love with him, but sadly I have nowhere to put him. I am tentatively calling him Grayden, but that might change later. Grayden was partially inspired by Eric's E-mails to Young Damsels (I suspect Eric is also a character-driven author), and partially inspired by a flash fiction piece I wrote last year called The Apathetics. I'm going to give a quick profile about Grayden, but first I have to start by defining two key terms:

em·path noun \ˈempaTH\ (chiefly in science fiction) a person with the paranormal ability to apprehend the mental or emotional state of another individual.  
sa·dist noun \ˈsā-ˌdi-zəm, ˈsa-\: a person who derives enjoyment from being violent or cruel or from causing pain.

Okay, where am I going with this...? Well, Grayden is a sadist in love with my MC, Audrina. He is constantly visualizing the disturbing things he wants to do to her, and is very open and honest in communicating his fantasies with her in conversations similar to this:


Audrina: "Whatcha drawing?" 
Grayden: "Oh, just a little sketch of you tied to a tree and me whipping you with a switch." 
Audrina (leaning in): "Are those needles on the tip of the switch?" 
Grayden (coughing): "Uh, yes. Sorry." 
Audrina: "Oh. Okay." (pauses). "You want to go to the movies later?" 
Grayden: "Sure."

See, the catch is, Grayden is also an empath...which is why Audrina is so inordinately calm with him. He can never act on his sadistic fantasies, because his ability to apprehend the emotional state of others causes him to feel the anxiety/fear his pain is causing them. And sadly, he has no masochist tendencies. That is--while inflicting pain on others excites him, he hates enduring pain himself, so he is unable to act on his primal sadistic urges (kind of like someone who loves chocolate but can't indulge in it due to an agonizing cavity). Audrina is fully aware of Grayden's most-contrary psychosis and has remained his one true friend (though I'm not sure if her caring for him will ever translate to romantic feelings).

Okay, I wrote a whole bunch more about Grayden and Audrina (including some exposition discussing how the two met and how Audrina discovered Grayden was, well, crazy), but realized I was getting carried away ranting about two characters who I probably won't be able to accommodate into a story for another decade. So I'll just sum up by saying I love the impossible complexity of Grayden. I love the challenge of trying to translate his very disturbed character into a protagonist, along with the dynamic of the reader trying to figure out whether he's a good guy or a bad guy. Also, I'll have to decide how far to let Grayden's fantasies go or how often he "slips" (i.e. sometimes I'll push through that toothache to enjoy a piece of chocolate...will Grayden be tempted to do the same?). But his character is way too colorful to not write into a story...someday.

In other news, I'm still trudging through revisions of my MS, and I hereby take back every nice thing I have ever said about this process. I sort of hate revising with a white hot searing passion. I'm getting ready to start my fifth (or is it sixth?) rewrite of DoT's final chapter, and the good news is I think I came up with an approach for that chapter that will solve most of its problems. The bad news is I'll probably end up throwing my laptop off a balcony before I see it through.