My name is Kristin, and I am a baby-killer. (Hi, Kristin…)
Okay, I realize that the title makes me sound like a whacked-out abortion doctor or a right-winger accusing myself of doing Bad Things, but I’m actually talking about fictional babies.
Today, after a cup of tea, about a million repeats of a sappy song, and a lot of soul-searching, I decided that a main character’s sick baby should die. This is my first time killing a character in this book. I have done some Bad Things to my characters otherwise, but this is the first time I’ve committed murder, and it’s definitely the first time I’ve killed an innocent six-month-old. (For those of you who will someday read my book, ha ha, I apologize for the spoiler.)
I decided to do it for several reasons. One, if the baby recovers, the main character might not have the will to do what she’s about to do. Two, it’ll allow me to set up some nice parallels from her earlier chapters. Yes, I kill babies for the sake of my art. Three, well, I blame Jacqueline Carey. She gives a piece of advice for aspiring writers that has stuck with me for a good five years:
Create characters and break their hearts.
And that’s what I’m doing. This character—her name is Constance, by the way—will be stronger for surviving this. The baby’s death will push her husband, a villain of sorts, over the edge and will help explain the bad choices he’s about to make.
I suppose it’s a little ridiculous to feel guilt over killing people I made up, but whenever I think of another character slated to die, I feel sad for him. In this case, I feel especially sad because this poor baby will have had no role but shaping his mother’s character. These people die so that the people around them–the main characters–can react and develop another facet.
Call me crazy, I guess, but it’s a bummer to have to kill someone you’ve spent time with every day for the past three years, even if that person is just a figment of your imagination.
But if anyone asks, the song made me do it. And Jacqueline Carey. But I stand by my choice.
That’s very close to what I read from a different author. Don’t remember who though, but they said “Create an interesting character. Then put them through Hell. It works wonders.”
I have no problem killing characters. But I do invent characters for the sole purpose of killing. They may or may not be based on people I don’t like in real life.
But sometime it’s required to accomplish your goal. Think about Mistborn, for example. Any of them, but more specifically the first and last books. I think he accomplished something with death that nobody expected, and it probably made the story more emotional and gripping. So don’t fret.