Writers are sociopaths, you know that? (Or is it psychopaths? I can never keep those two straight.) We create these characters, get to know them and their deepest hopes and dreams, then we sit around devising all the horrible things that could possibly happen to them to prevent them from obtaining their desires.
Jane is a perfectly nice, normal woman. Let’s make her a kindergarten teacher. She truly cares for her students as she guides them through the transition from preschool to elementary grades.
Enter the writer, and suddenly everything changes. Jane is no longer content with her existence. We make her lonely, and maybe a bit bored (because clearly, lonely isn’t enough misery). So we introduce her to John, a handsome, charismatic man. But we’re writers, so we let her meet him, get her interested, and then BAM! We tell her she can’t have him. Maybe he’s the father of one of her students. Or maybe he’s got a terrible secret and the FBI is hunting for him. Or maybe he’s almost as much of a jerk as the writer, and has emotionally abused all six of his previous wives!
Then, because this isn’t enough – it’s never enough for a writer – we toss Bob into the mix. Maybe Bob is John’s identical twin brother, so Jane won’t give him the time of day, thinking he’s John, the man she can’t have. Then she’s confused, on top of being lonely. Hey, at least she isn’t bored any more! Then we writers have to throw in a crisis, because figuring out which man is the love of her life isn’t enough drama for Jane to deal with. Now we start setting fires. (A lot of sociopaths are arsonists!) Maybe we burn Jane’s house down, so she has no choice but to shack up with Bob and/or John. Or maybe we start a forest fire that destroys the whole town! Now we’re getting somewhere…oh yeah, and let’s go back and give Jane a traumatic childhood experience. Maybe she was in a car fire and has panic attacks at the smell of smoke. Yeah, that will work! Let’s see her get out of this!
Whatever doesn’t kill our characters just makes them stronger, right?