Wow! Killing a friend ain’t easy. You think you’re ready for it. You have planned the dramatic demise, executed to perfection, but when it gets right down to it, it is soooo hard.
And when they are lying there dead, with an arrow though their heart, or an axe wound in their head, you think you can just walk away. But what do you still have to do?
Press the Save button.
Do you get the irony? Your friend lies dead on the page, their blood still wet, and you are totally responsible for it. Sure you didn’t wield the axe, or aim the bow, but you created this person, this character, this hero.
He trusted you, allowed you to move him from one part of the kingdom to the other. He has seen you put him in a tight jam and always something happens to get him out of it in the nick of time. He never complained.
Except this time he is dead. You killed him and now he glares at you from the computer screen.
And you walk around in a daze. What made you do it? Why? For the glory? So that the reader would say: “Wow I never thought he would dare…” And you know you will have to face your writers group next week with this and get flayed. They loyally listened to your manuscript week after week, growing to love your characters, buying into your plot, and now you do this to them!
He hasn’t gone you know, not really. A knock on the door, a guy at the gym with the same tattoo, a person who bumps shoulders on the busy train platform. Your eyes meet fleetingly and you look away, guilty, ashamed. How could you have done that?
You killed a good friend, one who let you create them. And now you are going to expect the other characters in the story to trust you? Beware my friend. You never can be sure just how the next chapter will end.
Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He has written two fantasy novels and the first reached the Quarter Finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award as of March 2012. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (@elfwriter).