You always hurt the one you love.

Okay, this is going to be a little writer-technical. But stay with me….

In the journey of a fictional character–in the change that must come to him or her over the course of the book to make the story worthwhile–not-nice things sometimes happen. And that poses an interesting challenge to the one who loves that character most.

Can one continue to love that character, as a reader or as a writer, if he or she turns irredeemably bad?

That’s the conundrum of the moment for my peeps in the current book. And I’m finding that the answer rests in the word “irredeemable.”  I believe that one must find the remnants of what made that character love-worthy at the start in order to keep the love alive.  In the fading of the noble or gentle or compassionate in that person, we turn away. We lose the engagement. We are less vested in the outcome. We need the good.

I expect that different genres must tackle this challenge according to their own sets of rules. Or perhaps the “arc of redeemability”, as I’ll coin the thought here, is built into the writer’s psychological need. But, for me, without the possibility of salvation, of intervention (or even of love rediscovered in an unexpected way), something vital is lost.  As a writer, as for the reader, we need the good to persist to help the story remain satisfying. No matter what hideous outcomes we have in store for that person-entire who must come living into our hearts and souls.

And isn’t what we need in real life as well?