I don’t want to kill him, but I have to. He must die for the sake of the story. I’ve been avoiding this for a while. Knowing that it’s coming, I’ve slowed my pace as it approaches. He must die, and I’ve got to do it. Of course, I’m not talking about a real person but a character in a novel, but he still feels real to me. It strikes one as weird that a figment of your imagination can take up that much emotional equity.
I know from talking to other writers that killing a character can be downright traumatic. It’s nuts mcbutts to think that this conglomeration of words that you dreamt up can feel so real but dagnabit if it doesn’t. For me, its more impactful than hearing a favorite writer, actor, musician, sports star has gone to the great beyond. They lived in my head and on my pages. They breathed life into the empty balloon of my stories. They mattered.
So in about 10,000 words, they will be gone, and all my other friends in my head will be shattered. I wonder if it would be therapeutic to write a eulogy and have a ceremony for them. That way, I could mourn them properly. Maybe burn printed out pages of their death and place it in an urn. Put them on a shelf in the writing room, look upon them wistfully when I miss them. Remember them fondly, then turn back to the computer and write away until I get them a new neighbor on the shelf.
It seems like a lot of work that would keep me from writing. So maybe I should just move on and be more like a sociopath. Kill, move on, and repeat. Keep pumping out units. Cha-Chunk Cha-Chunk Cha-Chunk. But I feel I owe more to these folks in my noggin than that.
I think when that last literary breath falls past his lips, I will take a moment to reflect, take a sip of coffee, wipe away any tears that fall, and celebrate the words that made me care.
How do other authors deal with this? Do you not care? Does it bother you? I’m curious.