There are a couple of memes that go around the #writingcommunity on Twitter that talk about how many writers have no problem killing off characters. This is an example of one of those memes.
I know. It’s pretty funny. But I just recently realized that I am NOT that type of writer!
I’m currently writing a chapter in my WIP where a character is going to die. Not the main character, but a rather important secondary character. I’ve known this character was going to die for a long time now. I’ve plotted this all, first in my head, and then on paper. This character needs to die.
But I am losing sleep over it. Literally!
Last night my amazing wife encouraged me to go out writing and I was able to finish the chapter right before this character dies. I came home with my brain all abuzz, but I tried to go through my normal evening routine to settle myself. I read for a while until my eyes wouldn’t stay open, and then I turned off the lights and tried to sleep.
I tossed some more.
I was thinking about the story. Not questioning my decision to kill the character, but thinking through all of the ramifications for doing so. Finally, I drifted off to sleep where I started to dream.
In this dream, I set up a series events that were extremely important (not sure why at this point), but caused my son to be put in harm’s way. My actual son was in my dream and he almost died in my dream. I remember holding him and crying with him about it and feeling awful. I woke up, knowing it was a dream, but it doesn’t take psychoanalysis to figure out what this dream was about.
I don’t want to kill off my characters!
I still think it’s the right decision for the story. Don’t get me wrong on that count. I just also think that as this story (and the two that come after it) continue, I am going to do what I can to limit the body count.
These characters are my creations. I have put my soul into them. They have taken up a considerable amount of brain space. I cannot just kill them off willy nilly. They’re going to get hurt, but death is not always necessary.
I understand now what J.K. Rowling means when she has apologized for killing off beloved characters. As a writer, there are certain things that need to happen for the story to unfold the way it needs to unfold, but as a person, I can feel bad about it.
Do any other writers out there feel the same way? Leave a comment and let me know.