After agonizing about this development in the book I’m working on ‘In One Night’, I finally wrote in the death of one of the characters.
Rationally it had to be done. It made sense to the story and it fit the plot; driving forward the story and the choices the characters now face. But on a gut level - purely emotional - it was almost as if I’d lost someone close to me.
How could I have done this? What was I thinking? Why did I feel I needed to do this?
Death is never easy. Not in real life and not in fiction.
It got me thinking about how we’re confronted with death in the media almost daily, so why would one 19-year old fictional character matter to me, a secondary character in the story at that?
Well, because I created her for one. And, two, her death represented something not just in the story, but also in the greater context of the history the story is wrapped around. World War II left many scars on many families, and landscapes. By losing one 19-year old I suppose I was trying to represent a larger group, a group that often gets overlooked in the counting of lives lost.
This girl wanted so to be perfect, like many teenagers. To fit in and be loved, not defined by an, at that time, common deformity, that she let herself be talked into experimental, dangerous and doomed surgery by a fanatical nazi doctor. That’s all I’ll say. By the time the book comes out I’m sure you all will have forgotten this bit.
What struck me, aside from feeling grief, was that my remaining characters are at a loss to determine their own next moves. They’re finding themselves reexamining their choices and making rash new ones that can have even greater, disastrous consequences not only for the Detweiler family, but perhaps others as well.
I’m taking a little time away from writing to work on a translation. This will also give me time to step back and see where the characters go next, because even though my pen’s not on the paper, the story continues in my mind until I get back to the paper.