So, I just had to take a break from the scene I was writing.
A few years ago, I wrote a post about the emotional tolls we writers sign ourselves up for when we invest ourselves in our characters. In turn, when we betray those characters and give them the raw end of the deal, we face emotional blow-back from our own material.
This time, I was writing a pivotal battle scene. At the end of it, one of the characters in this small team dies.
They were playfully violent in their life, enjoying the combat they took part in. As they lay dying, crippled and in pain from the mortal wounds they had suffered, that playfully violent demeanor gave way to sadness and dread at the realization that, this time, they lost. They didn't go quickly or without pain, but realizing in their last few minutes that there was no way out this time. This character, groomed as a special forces operator since childhood, who had stared death in the face most of their lives, finally lost.
Now I am sitting here in my chair and sharing this with you, readers, because it feels like I have torn apart a piece of myself. I invested myself in this character in ways I didn't expect and now, I am feeling the consequences for what I've done to them. In giving them a part of myself, I gave them life. Just the same, I've just taken that life from them.
Invest in your characters, fill them with a part of yourself. You will make them all the better for it. In doing so, however, be ready for the twist in your - the writer's - gut when you sink the knife in.