When I was in high school and working on my official first epic fantasy novel, I would go over to my friend’s house, another writer, and we would talk shop all day long. Her mom used to give us weird looks whenever she walked by, saying if only we could hear ourselves the way others (non-writers) do. It was probably due to our genre, but we beat up and injured our characters mercilessly.
“I had him take an arrow in the shoulder. The left one, mind you. He still needs the use of his sword arm.”
“Yeah, that’s important. Should probably avoid leg injuries if we want them to get up and continue fighting. A knife to the gut works.”
Why do we abuse our characters so? Is it a cathartic experience? Are we taking some of our own emotional or psychological pain and giving it a physical outlet? Is it just another expression of overcoming immense odds? Do we kill characters we love so that we may experience grief in a safe environment? Does it help us root for the protagonist? What are your thoughts?
(Hm, but if pieces of ourselves get put in our characters, does that make us sadists or masochists?)
And, if you want to share, what’s the worst you’ve done to a character? Physically: kidnapped and tortured almost to the point of death might be the winner for me. Psychologically: I sent a protag with severe arachnophobia to hunt down a nest of giant spiders. (Yeah, that was definitely masochistic on my part. Call it attempted therapy.)