It is difficult to contemplate the death of a character, a friend you’ve written. It is probably even more complicated to understand why, as a writer, you are compelled to knock off a character at all.

Permanent Later, the final good-bye, of a loved one—whether through natural processes or emotional ones—is the toughest things we face in life. Perhaps we write it as a way to exorcise the dread of it in our lives. That’s probably much too simple an answer.

When we write, we are smarter than we are. We are more generous. We are more forgiving. More vengeful. And more merciless. In these conceived worlds in which we are High Lords and Masters, we exercise a power, a control, that we cannot wield in life. We turn the world manageable. Why would we remove from our lives something that we love so much?

Will I ever write a book in which NOBODY dies? Dunno. Do I kill off written representations of people I’ve known in real life? No. Except, perhaps once, obliquely and off-camera, via the name of a person I had come to hate. I don’t entertain death fantasies in people I’ve come to distrust or dislike. The question remains, then: Why?

We say good-bye to things in order to make more bearable the saying of good-bye that is inevitable in life.

Does it make the writing (or the reality) any easier? I don’t know that it does.

 

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