While driving home from work yesterday evening, I got a plot idea for a story I've been working on. A wonderful idea. An awful idea. A deliciously, wonderfully awful idea.
It's wonderful because it fits the story so well and it's true to my heroine and it adds so much nail-biting tension I can hardly stand it...and...and...well, it is exactly what I need. To a tee.
At the same time, it's awful because it requires me to do a really bad thing to my heroine. Bad enough to almost destroy her. Bad enough to cut her off from just about everyone around her. Before you ask, yeah, it is that screwed up, and no, it's not rape, torture or any other form of abuse. It's something a little more subtle, but with equally devastating results.
The funny thing is, as much as I love the idea, a large of me is railing against it because I know just how difficult it will make life for my character---for many of the characters in the story, in fact. And, even though this is a perfectly fictional being we're talking about here, some twisted maternal part of me wants to protect her, keep her safe. I want her to walk, talk and feel as alive as real, flesh-and-blood person, except I don't want her to feel pain. I don't want her to bleed.
Am I the only one who thinks that's a tad bit weird? Gosh, I hope not.
Fortunately, I thought of some wise words from one of my favorite writers of all time, the one-and-only Holly Lisle. I don't believe I've mentioned her on the blog before, but the woman has been an utter godsend for my writing. Her website has advice for just about every writing question you can think of, and 99.9% of it is FREE. Not to mention the fact that her Secret Texts trilogy features some of the most fantastic world-building I've ever come across...
But I digress. Anyway, in her "How to Create a Character" workshop, Ms. Lisle says the following:
And you know something? That's exactly my problem right now. I'm sympathizing with my heroine instead of empathizing with her. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. I've spent a ridiculous number of years with this character, more years than I'd care to admit. I suppose it's natural that I've become attached to her, that I think of her as a sort of adopted child.
Except that she's not. She's a character, not a kid, and no matter what hell I put her through, she won't break. Besides, if she never has to go through anything tough, no one will want to read her story.
What about you? Do you ever get too attached to your characters? What do you do when it happens?