revising, writing

What Desperate Housewives taught me about my novel…

In case you’re not a Desperate Housewives fan, you do not know that they killed off Mike Delfino. You may be going “Say who?” so here is a little recap: Mike Delfino has been Susan’s love interest since season 1 – they had their ups and downs (a lot of downs) but they found each other (several times) and were finally on a somewhat stable and happy spot.

Mike held a special part in my “Desperate Housewives” fan heart. Not only does he have these rugged good looks which I totally see on my husband, he was supportive, nice, could be funny at times and he protected people.

And then pfff, Mike is shot dead. 5 episodes until the finale and he’s gone, protecting Susan of course. This didn’t make me happy at all (understatement of the week :D) even though my hubby did remind me: “you know the actor is still alive, right?”.

 So what did this little episode teach me about my work-in-progress:

  • It’s ok to be even meaner to my characters while I revise.
  • Even if I get attached to my characters, the unexpected can happen (especially if they put themselves in a dangerous situation)… I cannot hold it off because it may make me sad.

And it reminded me something important:

  • Include a bang, one which will make the readers go: “oh no he/she didn’t”.  Characters may die or survive, they may lose someone close to them or get their heart broken  but they will go through something. When they do, I’d like my readers to dab their eyes, to scream at me for putting them through it, to cry (if they cry). It sounds a bit Cruella Devil to say that but let’s face it, if the readers do go through this while reading one of my novels, I’ve done my job as an author.

Have you ever watched something which reminded me of what you need to do in your novel?


7 thoughts on “What Desperate Housewives taught me about my novel…”

  1. There have definitely been shows that inspired my writing. It was a particular old British SciFi show that actually got me seriously writing in the first place, if you want to know the truth. I do put my characters in peril and kill off people close to them to push them in the direction they need to go. Some of those scenes are written through bleary, tear-filled eyes and I hope that my readers will feel the same way when they read them. At the launch for my last book, I picked a scene to read, thinking I was strong enough to read about the character’s dying great-grandmother. I was wrong. I suddenly got an image of my dad’s last day and I couldn’t continue. I had to apologize to my audience and jump ahead, after taking a deep breath and drying my eyes!

    Like Desperate Housewives, there are times in the lives of our characters when bad things happen. If they didn’t go through that emotional turmoil, it would be a pretty boring story, wouldn’t it? (BTW, I’m sorry to hear Mike got shot. I watched the series for awhile but missed the last season, or so. I liked the character he played on The Pretender, too, although he was sort of the ‘bad guy’ in that one!) Good luck with your writing, especially those difficult scenes that put your character through H-E-double hockey sticks (as we Canadians say)! 🙂

  2. Good post, but u know killing characters can go either way. I refuse to read the sequel to shade b/c I dont want aurora w/ that stupid scot.

  3. This is tough, for sure. I prefer to read stories where the most important characters make it through alive, not unscathed, but alive. I’m not afraid of killing off a parent or someone close, but I’d be unable to kill off somebody who was super important like a love interest. When I was finishing up the Harry Potter series and The Hunger Games trilogy, I was terrified that one of the main characters would get the ax. I think I didn’t even have much time to enjoy either finale because I was devouring them so fast just to make sure my favourites survived. I suppose it depends on what type of book you’re writing too.

    Thanks for sharing this, Elodie 🙂

  4. lol, I love your husband reminding you the actor’s still alive. I’m currently reading the Game of Thrones series and the author, G R R Martin has no qualms about killing of main characters and the ‘darlings’ of the series. The first time one of the main characters in his book got killed off I was in shock! I didn’t stop reading though, and now I keep holding my breath and hoping that the characters I’m rooting for will make it to the end!

  5. It’s hard to be mean to our characters sometimes, but I always remind myself that I have to be true to my stories and that usually means hurting my characters.

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