you realize that right here, right now, you hate your characters. Not enough to stop writing them, just a real “what the hell is wrong with you people?!” moment.
It’s one of those moments where you realize you can fix the problem by virtue of the author’s “because I said so” badass superpower…..but you don’t want to, because it seems like a cowardly way out.
I reached that point today kicking around the repercussions of killing a character that is very dear to both the heroine, Aurelia, and myself. I had thoughts about invoking the DM (dungeon master) rule of “no body, no kill”, and I thought about having him actually die as a major plot point. There’s a line floating around in my head that would have involved him in one of the very very last scenes in this series, however long it turns out to be, but I am realizing that getting him to that point will cause SO many problems that I may just have to let him go.
So, one of the repercussions involved would be the establishment and resolution of a classic source of tension- a love triad. Two men in love with the same woman, who loves both of them.
This is the point where reality stepped in and smacked me one. Rarely, if ever, do these sort of things end with all three parties being satisfied with the outcome. Feelings get hurt or ignored, unintentional favoritism happens, the contests for attention or affection or outright dominance can get just out of control. Because this triad/romance is a subplot, albeit an absolutely crucial one, some kind of decision has to be made on my part.
Since this is a novel, I could wave my magical author’s quill pen and make the two guys accept each other; thereby (in my opinion) breaking the sense of reality I am attempting to create. A warrior king and a desert assassin just all of a sudden deciding to be cool with each other, particularly over a woman they both love? Yeah, that’s realistic. Next!
I could have them fight for her, or try to out-do each other in increasingly complex ways. This would devolve into a crazy mess and would probably make it nigh-impossible to get back to the main plot in any kind of natural or easily-flowing way.
I could, theoretically, have her walk away from the pair of them, though that would entirely derail the remainder of the work and effectively stop any forward progress; therefore, while it is an option, I don’t consider it a valid one.
Or I sit here and try to figure out how to make it work, though I think doing a Rubix cube while blindfolded, hanging upside down, and wearing mittens would be slightly easier at this point.
The last option is removing one point of the triad entirely, thereby removing the problem. I worry that this will lessen the emotional attachment any readers may form; I worry this will gloss over a major point for Aurelia to grow as a person and as a character. I worry this will completely eliminate a chance for my male lead to show that he is more than what he seems.
Something has to be done. Granted, this all takes place in Book II when I haven’t even finished Book I yet. But if I take out those vital insights, I need to add them in somewhere else.
That, my Lovely Readers, is my quandary. If I remove a major piece of conflict and growth, where do I replace it, and with what?