Ever wonder how novelists decide which of their characters to eliminate? I was forced to kill a character I loved because I had written myself into a corner. I was so upset that I cried and had to stop writing that day. I then remembered something Benjamin Capps once told me during an interview:
“Probably no reader of mine ever felt so strongly or shed a small tear unless I had already done so in the writing.”
Emotional investment in a writer’s characters is undoubtedly what makes a novel successful. If an author doesn’t really care about her characters, why should the reader? But how involved does a writer have to be to make her readers care? That’s a question someone smarrter than I am will have to answer.
I do know, however, that many of us live with our characters 24/7, until the book is finished. That's when it’s hard for me to let go, which is why I like writing a series. The characters to whom I’ve given birth can age right along with me, unless, of course, I’m forced to kill them off.
After covering a police beat for eight years and writing about the worst aspects of human nature, I decided to write an amateur sleuth series. My Logan & Cafferty series features two 60-year-old women; one a private investigator’s widow, the other a mystery novel buff. In the first book, A Village Shattered, the women are forced to discover the identity of a compulsive murderer, who is alphabetically doing away with their friends. They also discover that their own names are on the killer’s list.
In the second novel, Diary of Murder, I placed them in a motorhome in the midst of a Rocky Mountain blizzard. I had previously killed one my character’s sister, but the reader doesn’t get to know her until her diary is found and read throughout the novel.
I like my main characters because they’re witty and sassy, according to one reviewer, and I could never bring myself to eliminate them as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle attempted with Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie with Herculue Peroit. They're like old friends whom I enjoy visiting every day to listen in on their conversations.
Do you love your main characters or do you tire of writing about them and want to kill them off?