I’m sick in bed and reading reviews, and I see one question coming up again and again.

Why did you do it?

The death of Carlisle (Whit in my head) was always in my outline. Though it does give Edward a sense of urgency, that had been brewing beneath the surface for a while by this point—that was Kate’s primary function as a character, besides helping him get through his break-up. Carlisle’s death was crucial for Edward to develop the right amount of empathy for Bella. It’s been said that relationship we have with our same-sex parents is the most important one we’ll ever have. Edward had moments of sympathy here and there regarding the fact Bella never really had the benefit of this, but he is incapable of understanding until he loses his father.

Thus our boy becomes a man, though not at all in the caveman must-take-care-his-mother sort of way. He’s spent his entire life fairly sheltered, and now the walls start coming down. He learns family relationship are not what he thought they were, that his parents were not nearly as open with him as he believed, that his parents’ relationship (which he’d always viewed as ideal) had its share of bumps and bruises along the way, and that much like Edward and Bella, they almost didn’t make it.

Most importantly, in losing his own father, he begins to appreciate why Bella is the way the she is. For example, when he wants to pick up the phone to tell his father something, he realizes he can’t. Then he thinks about how Bella has never been able to do that—call her mother just to talk—and this places everything in a whole different perspective.

I started writing Counterpoint in June of 2009, as a writing exercise through which I wanted to see if I could achieve two things. The first was to create a believable male narrative voice, one that differed significantly from that of Art After 5. The second was to see if I could tell a completely different story using the same series of events planned in Art After 5—if I could take a story about self-discovery and acceptance and rewrite it as a coming-of-age love story. We’ve now reached the climax of the story.

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  1. on 03 Apr 2010 at 2:59 pmMeilleurCafe

    I'm sorry to hear you're sick today, and I hope that the company yesterday didn't contribute to that!

    I'm glad you posted this, not because I ever questioned why Carlisle "had to die," but because you've brought out some other interpretations I hadn't even thought of. Edward has lived a privileged, sheltered life up until the point where Bella ended their relationship; I got the impression that was the first time that something didn't come easily to him. People lose their loved ones in many different ways; shit happens, and as far as this story goes, it made sense to me that this shit would happen to Edward. As you noted, he's an adult now, and while he's always had a mature outlook, his limited years have also limited the experiences he's had which make us all grow up. This is rough, and it must have been very rough to write it, but it is a turning point which is crucial to Edward's (and therefore "Counterpoint's") development.

    I'd never thought of how this would help Edward have greater empathy for Bella. But that's a beautiful, salient point. Bella never knew the joys of having that motherly guidance, and of having that deep confidence that comes with knowing someone loves you no matter how badly you screw up. All the same, she felt that lack. Edward had the benefit of a loving relationship with his father, and it makes Carlisle's death stand out all the more. He has to deal with the loss of his father and all that his father gave to him, throughout his life. If you're smart – and Edward is nothing if not smart – you take those sorrows and turn them into some kind of wisdom. I can see how this would help him be a better, more mature partner for Bella now.

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    nikicolecole reply:

    You have encapsulated my thoughts in a much more eloquent manner than I ever could. So I'm going to resort to the mature "Yeah, what she said" comment.

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    Sunshinemommy reply:

    This is exactly how I felt, too. I adore this Carlisle but I never questioned why his death was necessary. Death of a loved one (especially an unexpected death) tends to give us clarity we wouldn't have otherwise. It also helps us quickly realize who our real friends are (and who they aren't.) And, of course, in the case of young adults, it gives them that final push into adulthood. But, wow! I never once considered the many reasons listed above (all of which really make sense.)

    Thanks for sharing this, Colleen. The further we get into Counterpoint, the more I love it.

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  2. on 03 Apr 2010 at 11:00 amSassyK

    And in my humble opinion, you’ve succeeded beautifully.

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    Mojito Maven reply:

    Agree completely.

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  3. on 03 Apr 2010 at 3:22 pmAnne

    I loved your point about Edward finally understanding what life is like without a strong, built in support network, and how that helped him understand Bella better. While I guess I had gotten the sense of that from the story, I'm not sure I could have articulated it as one of the crucial factors in Edward's growth.

    Hope you feel better soon!

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  4. on 03 Apr 2010 at 4:08 pmflyrbrd

    Thank you for this perspective. You have always been so generous with sharing your thought process. I had pm'd you months ago about counterpoint and you graciously answered my questions.

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  5. on 03 Apr 2010 at 4:29 pm@cherbella09

    I am HOPELESSLY behind on Counterpoint but I AM going to catch up one of these days. Therefore I haven't read the funeral through Edward's view in Cpunterpoint, but I do know I didn't "get" this idea (of Carlisle's death making Edward understand Bella's absence of a mother) in AA5. I just thought he needed someone to turn to, but this makes so much sense.

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  6. on 03 Apr 2010 at 4:53 pmpatty

    everytime you write something new, be it a blog entry, a post on the forum, an outtake or a chapter, i'm always hanging onto every word. thanks for sharing this bit with us. it always gives me a new perspective on your work. amazing.

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  7. on 03 Apr 2010 at 4:53 pmlovestoread24

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this crucial point of the story. I always appreciate it when you give us your perspective on the story. I am glad you use this forum to communicate with your readers. Enjoy your weekend, and hope you feel better.

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  8. on 03 Apr 2010 at 5:26 pmallryans

    Thank you for giving your readers this insight.

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  9. on 03 Apr 2010 at 9:18 pmlsknH

    Thanks, this gives me something to think about. I am always open to whatever an author writes. But it's interesting to have insight into the background of the writing. Thanks

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  10. on 03 Apr 2010 at 10:17 pmdkm241

    I just wanted to say thank you for sharing these thoughts and insights into your writing. I really appreciate it and I enjoy your stories very much.

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  11. on 03 Apr 2010 at 10:58 pmbgwillis1281

    When reading AA5 I never questioned the death of Carlisle. I saw it as an example of how life can rear its often ugly head and change everything. When my father died 10 years ago this year after a short battle with cancer, I wondered how hard it would be for someone to lose a loved one suddenly, in an accident; to say goodbye to them on the phone and a few hours later they would be gone. I had three months to "adjust" to the idea of losing my dad and it was hard; how do people who lose someone suddenly cope with that kind of loss. Carlisle's death offered me a glimpse of that kind of loss.

    From the AA5 we saw Carlisle's loss as Bella's lost opportunity to make amends. In CP, we see the impact of his death on his wife and more importantly his son. Reading your thoughts about why, I can see how the loss of his father would fundamentaly change Edward's outlook on a lot of things, especially his relationship with Bella. Finally being able to see the loss of a parent from her perspective by comparing it to his…it's no wonder that he is finally able to move past the hurt and trust Bella again.

    Thank you for the insight. It really made all the difference.

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  12. on 03 Apr 2010 at 11:57 pmwar123

    I thought you did a beautiful job on handling Carlisle's dead. I was moved my all reactions, but mainly Esme's and Edward's. As heartbreaking as it was; it was also monumental to have Edward grow up quick and be the man he was destined to be.

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  13. on 08 Apr 2010 at 1:03 pmkatydid13

    I had inklings of some of the reasons you stated above, but I really enjoyed seeing them laid out. It makes them clearer and my understanding better.

    I always love hearing what the writer wants to share about the writing process.

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  14. on 08 Apr 2010 at 9:45 pmBeanFlikn247

    I am so glad that Valentine guided me towards her website, I didn't know it was here and I must say its quite nice. I enjoy reading the authors thoughts on their stories because while I take in and analyze what I read my thoughts are never as in-depth or profound when compared to what the writer was trying to tell me through his or her writing. Case in point, Carlisle's death. I never thought about the impact it would have on Edward and Bella's relationship other than the obvious, Edward turning to Bella for comfort during a trying time in his life and as a result their relationship grew closer and stronger. I never thought about Bella never having that strong family dynamic that Edward most likely took for granted and that the lack of said support during her life was partially to blame for her becoming the bitter and closed off woman she was when the split up…see Edward figured this out, but it was completely over my head, but he is a genius after all ;). So thanks for the insight Valentina I enjoyed getting inside your head for a bit.

    ~Connie~

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