Authors – and anyone who creates a character – are a twisted group. Why? Because they literally play god for these characters and can do to them whatever they please.
Of course, this does include the niceties. Happiness, wealth, romance – most characters get these at some point. But in order to make a story interesting, there must be some devastation. And that devastation usually happens to the main characters.
Authors like to watch their creations squirm.
It isn’t that we’re a terrible group of people – but life simply isn’t a long trail of ups. The downs have to happen as well. But when an author thinks of something bad to happen to a character, they can sometimes enjoy it.
We are perverse.
For example, when Alistair loses the ones he loves, he turns to liquor to help him forget and therefore “deal” with his pain. He becomes a functioning alcoholic. It’s terrible because of the way it effects the characters around him, but I love it. It gives him an extra dimension and adds depth.
Putting characters in terrible situations also shows a side to them people might not otherwise see. In Of the Arbour et al, Sage is a very docile and soft-spoken man who is generally polite and easygoing when he isn’t keeping to himself. But when he inevitably finds out that his wife was raped and the baby she carries might be that of her rapist and not Sage’s, jealousy turns him into a monster.
And authors do get some sick pleasure out of doing things like this. It isn’t just that it’s beneficial to the plot or the character development.
It’s like when people play the Sims. Sure, you might make a decent nuclear family that works 9 to 5 and gets good grades, but inevitably you’re going to make a sim just to torture. Set on fire, lock in a room, trap in the pool – it’s going to happen sooner or later.
As soon as people get to play god, we turn into monsters, just for a little while.
Things are generally unhappy throughout the plots of Changeling. Even when something good happens, something horrible stomps it into the dirt. Luckily the sequel, Abomination, is making up for it tenfold. There are some shitty moments, but so far it’s a lot happier. Which is nice for the characters. They’ve been put through a hell of a lot of trials to get where they are.
But a story with only ups is no fun. Think Nora Roberts or Danielle Steel. The downs are what make it interesting and keep people rooting for the characters to get back on their feet.
Now I think I’m going to continue torturing my own sweet characters for a little while. Alistair and Aisling have had it much too easy lately.