One Thing A Designer Taught Me

By guest writer: Brian Hernon

I consider myself a writer. Well, I used to anyway. I’ll let you in on a secret, it isn’t easy; hell, sometimes it isn’t even fun! Imagine writing a story you feel is going to make you the next Stephen King only to find out that by the time your friends, family and an editor have looked at it, your story has morphed from The Shining to Fifty Shades of Grey.

Which is not to say it wouldn’t do well – after all sex sells; and apparently lots of it could turn your book into a movie – or porn – depending on your viewpoint.

Now imagine that thriller you’ve dreamed of writing, you know the one – you’ve developed your plot, subplots, and some of the best characters ever imagined – and thrown in the obligatory twists and turns to keep the readers on their toes.

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After countless hours of writing and rewriting twenty well-structured chapters you decide that what you really need is some friendly input from a writers’ support group. After all, shouldn’t that be the very definition of support? I’ll take unhelpful advice for 200 Alex.

Yes, you guessed it – turns out that the hateful character you killed off in Chapter Three has made such an impression on the group, that it’s unanimous she has to stay, and the book should be based around her! My initial reaction of course was to acquiesce to the popular opinion. Can you say another rewrite? UGH !! I’d like to try Pain and Restless Sleep for 1,000 Alex.

George R.R. Martin of Game of Thrones fame has shown us that sometimes you don`t need characters that everyone loves; ones you were expecting to still be alive at the end of the book – sometimes it’s best to just lop off their head and move on.

I’m sure he was faced with the what-do-I-do-with-this-character dilemma at some point in his work. I know when I read his first book, I was totally floored at the sudden drop of that axe, and wasn’t sure if his book would be worth continuing. I mean, how dare he kill off such an integral part of the story. Well, in my mind anyway – obviously, not his! Such is the fickle world we writers try to live in. Drawing from our creative side while trying to appease our friends, family, readers and editors alike is akin to shooting oneself in the foot, over and over again.

Turns out, Mr. Martin is not a multi-bestselling author for nothing! And not only did I finish that first book – I’ve read all the books in the Game of Thrones series, and learned a thing or two about getting emotionally attached to any characters in his books. Which brings me back to the title of this treatise – what did my designer friend teach me?

She relayed to me the same advice she gives her clients – don’t design your home to satisfy your friends’ or family’s tastes; instead design with your happiness in mind. Mr. Martin knows this, as can be evidenced by the death count of the potential protagonists in his books – he’s either a really happy writer, or a morbid individual with a sadistic taste for driving readers nuts!

Where does this leave me? Let’s just say I’m not a bestselling author – yet. But I’m learning that I could be happy… really happy – going about leaving dead bodies laying all over the pages.

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