Well, I’ve done it again. I’ve gotten so invested in my WIP that the death of a minor character has me choked up.
It’s not really a spoiler to say that, because anyone who follows this blog (or has read my first book) knows I tend to be quite murderous in my writing. Like, mass destruction. Death by fiction. Hey, death happens in life, and in a dystopian sci-fi it’s definitely going to happen. So why do I care if a side character gets killed off?
I guess I could toot my own horn and say that it’s because I’m such a good writer, but let’s face it–I’m still a noob. No, I think the more likely scenario is that I have a soft spot for this person who’s got a whole life and background that’s not even written in. I know their personality, their quirks, their strengths and weaknesses. I know them more than any reader could…unless I really am that good of a writer, in which case the reader could infer these things from what I’ve written. Nah. We’ll go with the soft spot.
Most writers go through this, I guess–those that write death into their stories, at least. I’m generalizing based on solely my experience, but let’s just say for the sake of argument that this is common. The question then becomes: Who feels it more–the reader or the author?
As a reader, I know I’ve gotten upset at the deaths of minor characters before, those characters that draw you in for the few chapters they occupy and make you their friend. I certainly don’t know the backgrounds of these characters, don’t know their quirks and strengths and weaknesses. I don’t necessarily know what kind of childhood they had, or what their favorite color is, or any of that jazz. Still it affects me, and that’s saying something for the author of that story.
Maybe that’s the key; maybe you have to feel it yourself to know what the reader’s going to feel. Dig that knife into your own heart, make yourself cry, whatever. Feel the emotion, or the emotion won’t be felt.
Or maybe I’m just getting soft in my old age.