by Tory Butterworth
It happened with my first manuscript. I had completed the story, was showing it to an MD friend of mine to check the medical veracity of the plot. He said, "Boy, I wouldn't like to be a character in one of your novels!"
I do seem to have this penchant for creating protagonists who suffer major physical trauma. In that one, my heroine was a teenager who broke many bones in a major ski accident.
After my friend's comment, I considered my obsession in a new way. Should I feel guilty for brutalizing my character? Was I a sadist for subjecting my creations to pain and injury?
During the day I'm a therapist and trainer. I help people, listening sympathetically to their problems, suggesting ways out. Is writing my other life, the Mr. Hyde to my Dr. Jeckyl?
But, that's what we do as writers, isn't it? If we're doing our jobs, we try to figure out more and more difficult binds to put our characters in. It's through demonstrating their skill in thwarting adversity that they prove their mettle. But, at what point does it become inexcusable torture?
Have you ever felt guilty for the ways you treat your characters?