Caring About Your Characters

Posted 8-22-18

Creating characters that readers will love has a downside in that I grow to love them too. They become something like my own children whom I want to see happy and successful. So what’s the problem?

In my current manuscript, Traitor’s Moon, it became evident early on some of the characters would die. I knew I would have to handle it carefully or risk damaging the story arc and alienating my readers. As much as I want all the good guys to live long and prosper and the bad guys to bite the dust, the story demanded an injection of stark realism. Theoretically it sounds easy enough, but I had no idea it would be so emotionally difficult!

The real kicker is that I haven’t even written this part of the book, and yet I’ve already lost sleep and agonized over what I knew I had to do. Mind you, no major MC’s are involved this time, but the loss will still be wrenching. When I’m writing, and my emotions are engaged, I’m fairly confident my readers will be touched in the same way. This is a good thing of course, but it makes for some very uncomfortable moments as the tears fall and I get all choked up.

Is it reasonable, or even normal, to be so passionate about something which isn’t real? These people don’t even exist for heaven’s sake, so why all the fuss?

As a writer who creates characters out of whole cloth, I can tell you that I am emotionally invested in their lives and well-being. If it were otherwise, readers wouldn’t be able to identify with them and the story would fall flat. To be quite honest, I often prefer their company over the flesh and blood beings all around me. So when something bad happens to my loved ones, I’m going to grieve and cry without shame, and hope my readers do too.


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2 responses to “Caring About Your Characters”

  1. Theresa C. Avatar
    Theresa C.

    You are right to feel that way about your characters! They do become like family and you have a vested interest in them having a good life. It’s so much nicer for us readers to have a believable story, and not one where nothing bad ever happens. Keep up the good work & if you decide that someone HAS to die (and not just horribly maimed), at least give them a hell of a funeral! I liked the bumper stickers, too!

    1. Alexander Elliott Avatar
      Alexander Elliott

      I learned the hard way that even feel-good stories have to have some drama in them or the whole thing falls flat. I guess it’s true that people really do need something to overcome in order to be happy. I am already planning the memorial service, something I have to create from scratch since I have never been to a shifter funeral before! Thanks for writing – I appreciate your comments.

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