Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Persistent? Or Stubborn?

Murderati’s two most recent posts (by Tess Gerritsen and Rob Gregory Browne) have dealt with the fine line between persistence and stubbornness. Each is worth a read. Both are timely for me.

The detective in my PI series was intended to be a pretty normal guy. The arc of the series showed how the violence he kept encountering wore on him, made him more violent himself, and what he did about it. My critique group liked him. My agent liked him. Editors said he was boring.

I've taken a break from him to work on something else, but later this year I'm going back to his books and changing him just a bit. Since most of the stories deal with parent-child relationships at some level, and he is very close to his daughter (who lives with her mother), I decided he and his ex had another child, older than the daughter, who was killed in an accident when he was small. The detective wasn't at fault, but some decision that seemed insignificant at the time could have prevented the child’s death if decided differently. This broke up his marriage, and he still can’t get past it, so the cases that keep presenting themselves to him are that much more painful. He can’t really avoid them, as he’s usually well into them before he recognizes the parent-child element of the case he’s working.

Maybe this will work. Maybe it won’t. I’m hoping I’ve taken persistence right to the stubborn line, but not crossed it. We’ll see.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Nothing like a break in the writing of a piece to make you see it more clearly.

Dana King said...

I think it's also interesting that I learned more about what I can do with this character by writing other characters than I have by reading other characters and klooking for what was different. Not that the reading wasn't important, but I think I needed to get more comfortable with my ability to express these flaws than I used to be.