Killing Your Darlings: The Death of a Central Character

Author Mark HamnerGuest post
by Mark Hamner

William Faulkner famously said, “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.”  He was, of course, talking about having the guts to eliminate superfluous prose, chapters, etc. from your work.  However, as I was completing my third book, Cinder’s Reach, I had the task of killing one of my darlings in a very different way.  As a caution, I should note that everything from this point on should be considered a spoiler for those who are considering reading The Echo Chronicles.

My Echo Chronicles series revolves around four central characters: Trin, the protagonist, Cipher, his best friend, Creed, the hothead, and Dalton, the nice guy.  As I progressed through the books in the series, it became clear, both in my own mind and from my conversations with others, that one of my characters had become the clear favorite.  To my surprise, that character wasn’t Trin; it was Cipher.  Something about the fact that she never stopped trying to help others despite the fact that she was, herself, fairly messed up, really drew people to her. Trin was leaning on her more and more, and she was constantly putting her own life on the line for him and the rest of her friends.  The world inhabited by my characters is extremely volatile and dangerous.  Early on the thought struck me that it wouldn’t be entirely realistic for my characters to continue getting into dire situation after dire situation only to come out relatively unscathed. Continue reading “Killing Your Darlings: The Death of a Central Character”

Narrative Voice: Breaking the Rules

Guest post
by Mark Hamner

As I worked to complete my third book, Cinder’s Reach, I encountered a situation which led me to think about narrative voice rules and if it’s ever okay to break them. I believe that most of the time the answer is no, but there may be some situations in which it’s not as cut-and-dried.

For those perhaps new to writing, narrative voice can be thought of as the general perspective of the story. The narrative voice goes hand-in-hand with the narrative point of view. Some common narrative voices are first-person character voice (“I wonder what Jennifer is thinking”), third-person limited voice (“Mike had no idea what Jennifer was thinking”), and third-person omniscient voice (“Mike was confused; Jennifer was furious.”)

My Echo Chronicles series is written in third-person omniscient voice. As you know, that means I follow the characters in a “He said,” “He went,” “He thought,” manner, and I give my readers insight into the thoughts and feeling of more than one character. My story does, of course, have a protagonist, and his is the main point of view and narrative voice, but I do drop into others as well. I have four main characters, and all four have lent their voices to the story at various times. This worked well for me through my first two books, but I hit a snag in the third. Continue reading “Narrative Voice: Breaking the Rules”