So I have this character, let’s call him Character X, and he’s fantastic, okay? I barely had to do anything, he just came barging into my story, fully-formed. Well, not exactly barging. He was just sitting there politely, watching the story happen and eating popcorn, but then he saw something he didn’t like, so he stood up and said something about it. He fixed it, and then left the story again and I completely forgot he existed.
And then later–like, a whole book later–X saw something he liked. So he stepped back into my story and charmed everyone including me. He was funny and cute and even a little annoying in all the right ways, but he didn’t belong in my story. I tried to push him out, but he fought back. He was stubborn. He stayed, and I liked him too much to do anything about it, and the story grew around him until he was too tangled in it to be taken out again.
I’ve grown to really like X and his endearing ways. He’s not without his flaws, and I didn’t make him so much as he made himself, so I couldn’t really build him up to protect him from the plot like I did my other characters. X has no armour. He’s fresh and soon he’ll be swept up by the plot and his character will be stripped. He’ll lose his humour, his trust, his charisma…he’s going to go so far I’m not sure he’ll be able to come back again.
And I know this is all going to happen to him. I know what the plot will bring and what it’ll do to him, but I can’t change it. It’ll be like watching him get hit by a truck I happen to be driving. Readers will hate me. Characters will hate me. I’ll hate myself.
But that’s part of being a writer, I guess. Your characters can become so real sometimes; they say and do stuff and all you’re really doing is writing it down. You get attached, and it can be hard to let go, even when the plot demands it. But I’ll get over it. I know this, because X isn’t the first and he won’t be the last.