Tomorrow is Father's Day. I lost my father many years ago, but my heart is full of memories. He was a wonderful dad. He sang songs like Marezy Doats ("Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy. A kid'll eat ivy too--wouldn't you?") the Marines' Hymn, and Handel's Messiah. He was an engineer, and pored over assembly instruction for hours--I'm not exaggerating. At the dinner table, he took forever buttering a roll or biscuit--every single square centimeter of the cut surface had to be slowly smeared with margarine. (Meanwhile, our rolls were getting cold.)
Most importantly, he and my mom chose me. Biologically, they couldn't have kids, so they took a risk and adopted me... and I'm forever grateful.
My dad makes me think of memorable fathers in literature. Fathers like Harper Lee's Atticus Finch.
How about Jack Torrance--the father in Stephen King's The Shining? I'd love Atticus as my father but Jack? No thanks.
And my third most memorable father: Don Vito Corleone from Mario Puzo's The Godfather. I definitely wouldn't want him as my dad, but even more, I wouldn't want him as my enemy.
And thinking of Father's Day makes me think of the father in my WIP--James Henry Simmons.
James Simmons lived almost 100 years ago. He was created of ink and imagination three years ago. A mechanic. A strong man. A man who knew when to keep his fist clenched at his side instead of using it to punch someone.
When I first began writing this manuscript, I was sailing along. My family of five--two parents and three children--appeared in the early chapters. By the final chapter they'd be there too, right?
Or would they? Would any or all of them survive the tragedy that hit their community? Would they emerge permanently scarred--either physically or emotionally? These are decisions I have to make.
Well, to be completely honest, I made those decisions a long time ago but am I going to tell you if I killed off the father? The mother? The whole family? Um... no. You'll have to buy the book (when I'm lucky enough to snag a publisher).
If you're fortunate enough to still have your father or grandfather with you--and the two of you have a warm relationship--celebrate. If your father is gone and you have fond memories--take a moment tomorrow to page through a scrap book, look at some framed photographs... and remember.
Happy Father's Day!
Sioux Roslawski is a middle school teacher, a freelance writer and a dog rescuer... along with being a wife, mother and grandmother. Currently, she's working on earning the title of "Queen of Rejection Letters" as she sends off her manuscript at a feverish pace. If you'd like to read more of her stuff, check out Sioux's Page.
It is hard to kill beloved characters, even if (maybe especially if) they are of the 4-legged variety. Readers fall in love with characters and losing them is hard, but of course each character serves a purpose to the story and must succumb to the destiny plotted.ReplyDelete
I'm so happy to know you are submitting. Keep it going!
Lisa--I've never killed off a 4-legged character. However, I've never WRITTEN a 4-legged character into a story or manuscript.ReplyDelete
You are right. The characters steer the plot, and sometimes destiny dictates that somebody dies...
Never killed a character I liked, but sure did slam a book on some ne'er do wells! Your book WILL see the light of day. I believe that.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Linda. I appreciate the encouragement and the cheerleading. I need both.ReplyDelete
I've killed a few in my stories, but it's always difficult. I do enjoy, however, figuring out how each character deals with the death in his or her own way. I lost my father many years ago, too. I'm sorry for your loss.ReplyDelete
Mary--The aftermath that follows a death... I'd never really thought about it (from the perspective of a writer) but it IS interesting to see how people react, how they grieve and how they heal.ReplyDelete
I'm sorry for YOUR loss. They leave a void, don't they!
I can sit through a critique reading where a character is mercilessly killed off, but if anybody dares kill off the dog, I'm a blubbering mess.ReplyDelete
My writing advice: Never kill the dog!