Sometimes bad things happen to good people and that is one of my grievances against the one running things in this universe. But we fiction writers need conflict and drama, and we need bad things to happen to our characters, even the good ones. It’s a bad deal for them. Certainly it is not fair. But if we don’t let bad things happen for the good of the story, we deprive our story of tension and depth.
We have to let our characters go through whatever they have to go through. We can’t turn away at crucial moments because we want to make things easier for them or we don’t want to face the hard things they need to face.
This can be as painful for us as for them. I’ve read some work in manuscript, written some myself, where the author loves his characters so much he/she lessens the bad thing that is happening in the story or the effect of the bad thing. It’s the easiest thing in the world to do. It’s natural to want to help. We’ve got the power, after all; it’s one place we can really make things right.
Alas, we must be brutal. Maybe things will work out in the end but our characters need to go through what they need to go through to get there.
So now that I write this I have to wonder if my grievance against the one in charge of the universe might be misplaced. Does he/she have to let these things happen? Will the story be weakened if he/she doesn’t?