I read somewhere that a good writer develops awesome characters, with everything from histories to unconscious needs, then searches for the absolutely worst thing that can happen to them…and makes that exact problem happen in the story.
Yeah, well that creates an issue for me. See, the thing is, though my characters are for all intents and purposes not real, I still have developed a ridiculous amount of love for the silly buggers and, well, I don’t like them to suffer. In fact, writing about them being in pain is…actually painful.
It makes sense that a story needs something to happen or there is nothing to tell. It would just be one boring happy day after another. Endlessly. But to find out the thing characters fear most, the thing they dread with all their souls, and to put that in their path. Isn’t that a little mean? Am I traumatizing my characters? Hi there, my imaginary character who’s terrified of dogs, here’s a pack of starving, feral wolves. Let’s see what you make of it.
I did exactly that in my book Olivia’s Choice. I found the hardest, most painful thing she could face and threw her into it. It was hard as all bananas to write. I remember crying as I wrote. The tough question to answer is if the book was better for it.
I think it was.
On a completely unrelated topic, does anyone know any good therapists who deal with imaginary people?