#2. “Nobody dies on page two.” – Erica Duncan, author/teacher.
I lived in Sag Harbor, N.Y. at the beginning of my full time writing life, where I attended a writer’s group lead by *Erica Duncan. Erica, a celebrated literary voice, believed there was no such thing as a person who could not write. How lucky for me, as I had neither read a great body of literature nor acquired the degrees someone of her caliber might expect of a student.
Nobody dies on page two. A character might die anywhere in the book, but if death comes as early as page two, then it probably belongs on page one.
I write fantasy, and Time Blade opens with Sky, the main character, traveling by train to Cornwall, UK. Crossing the River Tamar, Sky meets Tamara, Spirit of the River, who appears in a glittering body of astral light. Tamara tells Sky he must return to the ancient lost Kingdom of Ruberah to fulfill a promise he wrote eons ago. I had preceded this scene with seventeen-year-old Sky interacting with an elderly fellow passenger, a woman who never appears in the book again!
I wrote that scene to reveal certain character traits about Sky, which it did and which writing I perfected daily, as the document opens on page one and I could not resist tweaking it at every glance. Now I recognized it as one of those ‘darlings’ that must be killed.
Writer-Up! Off with its head! Nothing is lost! Sky’s character unfolds naturally within the story.
I knew next to nothing about writing when I attended Erica’s workshops, which was a blessing, otherwise I might not have dared to set foot in her establishment. Erica critiqued me as fairly and evenly as she did her most outstanding students.
Thank you, Erica.
*Erica Duncan: A Wreath of Pale White Roses
Unless Soul Clap its Hands: Portraits and Passages