***** WARNING: Some very major Waiting for Spring spoilers follow. Read this prior to Chapter 34 at your own risk. *****
“Kill your darlings” is a literary term that refers to the process every writer goes through of weeding out brilliant or beautiful, but unnecessary, elements of a story so it can move along more smoothly. It is quite often a difficult, even painful, process, since it’s easy for an author to fall in love with his or her own writing. Unfortunately, it meant something different to me when I was writing Waiting for Spring. Along with those [seemingly] brilliant and beautiful, but unnecessary, passages that needed doing away with, I had to kill a different kind of darling: Rachel LaChance, Brian’s lost and abused sister.
If you’ve been following the book at Readers and Writers Blog, today’s the day you discovered that Tess’ assumption at the end of chapter 33 was correct; Rachel really is dead. And please believe me when I say that no one mourns her loss more than I do.
Rachel was doomed to meet a violent end the moment I brought her to life, a literal sacrificial lamb, as evidenced by her name (Rachel means “lamb or ewe”). Her death was a literary necessity. Because when an author has presented her readers with a major character (Brian) whose biggest fear is that something terrible will happen to the sister he has raised, and another major character (Tess) whose biggest fear is that something will happen to put her relationship with the other major character at risk…well, there’s only one thing for that author to do.
And yet when it came time for me to write Rachel’s death, I just couldn’t do it. I had grown to love Rachel too much to kill her off. She’d had such a hard life. She deserved a happy ending and I tried for weeks to figure out a way to give her one, I really did. But, in the end, the story has to take precedence over the fate of one character. Even a character you’ve grown to love. Especially a character you’ve grown to love…
So don’t hate me for killing my darling. Mourn with me instead.
Also posted today at Readers and Writers Blog: Chapters 10 and 11 of Ann M. Pino’s Steal Tomorrow.