It is a common misconception that writers create their stories. We create our characters, and we create the world they will inhabit. But the stories? They kind of create themselves when we turn our characters loose in the world we made.
Characters, if developed well, will always behave true to their nature. Characters may change over the course of the story, of course. They might become more compassionate or more daring or less reckless, they gain information or experience misunderstandings that effect their actions. Characters are people, too.
So I’m faced with a decision that I’m sure every fiction writer has to make at some point. I have a character that I might have to kill. The character’s nature and decisions through the story will lead up to one big decision. Choose one path, the character dies, choose another, and the character lives.
The dilemma is this:
If I kill my character, my readers might hate me. It’s a likeable character, and one that, if I write the story well, people will become attached to. If I don’t kill the character, though, I might not be staying true to the demands of the story.
I’m still early enough in the writing that things could change. As I said, the stories create themselves, and this one is still creating.
The writer is just along for the ride.