Tortured Heroes–May I Have Another, Sir?

Writers are told to “torture” our characters. To make awful things happen to them, to see what they have to do to squirm out and escape the victor–or get the guy/girl–or catch the villain. We hope, once it’s all done (or at least reaches a lull), our character comes out of it stronger. Better.Β 

I’ve really been putting my heroine, DJ, through the wringer in the new manuscript, and it started me thinking about some of the things that have been done to my favorite fictional characters.
Here are some of my favorite “dark moments” (warning–there might be spoilers):
Okay, let’s start with Rachel Morgan. First, Kim Harrison lets Rache transform herself into a mink, then get caught by the morally ambiguous Trent Kalamack, who first puts her in a cage, then enters her into the city’s underground rat-fighting rings. Oh, and she finally finds The Guy? I don’t even have to say his name.
I really can’t tell you what Jim Butcher did to Harry Dresden or the spoiler would be too huge. Take my word for it; it’s really, reallly bad.
Hm…Let’s see…JR Ward had Wrath witness his parents’ murders–before he lost his eyesight; Vishous got semi-castrated by his father and pretty much fries anyone he touches with one hand; oh, let’s not forget Zsadist, the tattooed, tortured sex slave or his twin brother who had to destroy his own leg to save him. Yeah, Ms. Ward can do her some torture.
And yet we love those characters because they persevere, often with wit although not without dark moments. What are some of the most memorable “low moments” you remember from your recent reads? I’m currently reading Julie Cross’ Tempest, and her character is stuck in a time-warp, trying from the past to change time in order to save his girlfriend, who was murdered in the present.Β 
So…if you’d like a copy of Tempest, which comes out next week, just weigh in. You know the deal. Four entries are possible: one for comment, one for blog follow, one for Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, and one for Tweeting or Retweeting the contest. Now…torture somebody!

30 thoughts on “Tortured Heroes–May I Have Another, Sir?

  1. I used to get all tied up in knots (so to speak) anytime Batman and Robin were in harm’s way…when they were stuck in the pool with the giant clam, I got all squirmy (ooh…I think there’s some sort of a metaphor there, that maybe I should save for discussion with a therapist).

  2. Ooo, I’ve heard so much about this story. Thanks for the contest!

    Yes, I *love* torturing my characters (and they frequently ask for more – don’t psychoanalyze that…please πŸ˜‰ ), but I try to give them a happy ending. That was one issue I had with The Hunger Games series. Torture galore, but the “happy ending” was a bit…hmm, how can I put this non-spoilery? I wanted more, let’s put it that way. πŸ™‚

    (+4 comment, GFC, Twitter, RT)

  3. I’ve been reading a paranormal mystery series by Terri Reid and she has her main character allow a ghost to use her body so the ghost can be hypnotized to try and find her killer. The ghost was abducted and raped repeatedly. During the hypnosis the character lives through and feels all of the ghosts memories. Then the character is abducted by the man who killed the ghost.

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    sgiden at

  4. @Terri Anne…LOL. I hadn’t thought about Batman (boom! pow!) in years…no, didn’t watch any of the recent spate of movies. They did have some problems, though πŸ™‚

    @Jami…The Hunger Games trilogy has been on my TBR pile forever. Has a happy ending? That really doesn’t quite sound….right.

    @Sandy…Holy cow. That may go past torture and go into brutal. Was it effective and moving, or did it squish you out?

  5. Oh, Zsadist! The perfect tortured hero πŸ˜‰ Just love him!

    I have heard a lot about Tempest … very curious over here.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

    (+4 comment, GFC, Twitter, RT).

  6. Tempest sounds interesting. Like a chance to win.

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    P.S. Went to Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, Il yesterday for a book signing by Deborah Harkness. She talked about her book, read from it, answered questions and personalized my copy of “A Discovery of Witches”. Lots of fun.

  7. @Juliana…Yes, Zsadist is the ultimate tortured hero! I haven’t formed an opinion about Tempest yet but am determined to finish it this weekend.

    @Roger…LOL. I’ll have to pick your brain. Tor is setting up some events for me and I have SUCH a bad reading voice I’m trying to figure out what to do πŸ™‚

  8. It was effective because it gave the ghost a chance to fight and overcome her killer. And the ghosts family were finally able to get closure. But it was sort of unpleasant reading parts of it.

  9. Suzanne – Did I see somewhere that you’ll have a launch in Huntsville AL in may? I might be able to make it. πŸ™‚

  10. I’m hosting a table at the Heart of Dixie reader’s luncheon on May 5 at the Braun Civic Center–it would be awesome if you could come! There will be a signing afterward. I don’t know if Tor’s going to set up a bookstore event in Huntsville or not, but I’ve given them the dates. Will definitely be doing Atlanta (Decatur) and Birmingham but I don’t have dates yet.

  11. i did not know this post would end it a giveway lol

    i feel so sad when something happns to cheacters i love

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  12. Dark Oracle by Alayna Williams. Tara has been buried alive while bleeding from numerous cuts to feed the orchids of the serial killer who caught her.

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  13. I would love Tempest, the book sounds amazing. I love tortured hero’s, it makes the character more relatable and gives them a vulnerable quality. Kipp from Stacey Kennedy’s Stolen Dreams, and Jim from J.R. Wards angel series always seems to be dealing with so much. Bothe characters I am hoping will get a happy ending soon. Thanks for the chance to win

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  14. I’ve heard a lot of good things about this book. Hope it lives up to the hype! I’d love to read it just to see. πŸ™‚
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  15. I absolutely adore tortured heroes! They are at the same time strong and vulnerable and I love seeing how they react to difficulties!

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    aliasgirl at libero dot it

  16. In Forgotten by Cat Patrick, about a girl who loses her memory every day, the low moment came when she realizes that her mother and her boyfriend have both been lying to her about very big things about her life and she feels all alone.

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  17. loves tortured Heroes..i’m soo looking forward to have the chance to read this book.

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    uniquas at ymail dot com

  18. Great blogpost, and I agree with you. I can cry and smile for my heroes, and that makes the book a good one.

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  19. I think that we connect more with tortured heroes, because they come through it better. It makes us believe that in the face of adversary, we too can stand back up and be ok.

    Thank you for the great thought provoking post!

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  20. Oh, Tempest kind of reminded me of Before I Fall, because the main character there also gets stuck in the same day over and over again, reliving her actions and trying to make them right.
    And you got me curious about those JR Ward books. They’re huge here in Brazil, but they never really got my attention before.

    +1 GFC – Juliana Dias
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  21. I’d like to be original, but it’s not going to happen in this case. Zsadist is my favorite tortured hero too! He’s my favorite brother. I really am excited to read Tempest though. I’ve heard mixed reviews and can’t wait to decide for myself! Thanks for the post!

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