On trusting characters (aka: why I let them make mistakes)

Okay, so, I get this question a lot (like, a LOT, a lot--it's also a heavy topic of discussion over on the Team Keeper page):

HOW COULD YOU LET FITZ BE SO MEAN TO SOPHIE?????????????

Which, as those of you reading the KEEPER series know, this is referring to something that happens in EXILE. And I'm going to try to keep this discussion relatively spoiler-free for those who haven't had a chance to read yet, but I still thought it might be time to address the issue, since clearly a lot of you are wondering about it--and are maybe even a little sad about it. 

And here's the thing: it made me sad, too. 

In fact, I avoided writing those scenes as long as I could, and when I finally wrote them it broke my heart. I love Sophie. And I love Fitz. So to let him say and do such hurtful things was very, VERY hard for me. 

But I had to do it.

Because here's my number one rule when it comes to writing: I have to trust my characters.

I know this might sound a little weird, but my characters are very real to me. I know their strengths and weaknesses, hopes and dreams, fears, regrets, and deepest, darkest secrets. And because I know them so well, I have to trust them. Even when it means letting them do something I don't like. Because that's the other thing we all have to keep in mind: characters aren't perfect. 

Sometimes they do the wrong thing, say the wrong thing, even feel the wrong thing. That's what makes them real. But it also means that sometimes we all want to scream, "NOOOOOOO!" as it's happening. And that's okay, because that's what makes the story interesting. It gives us something to root for, hope for, keep turning those pages to see how it all works out. And maybe sometimes it doesn't work out as well as we'd like. But that's okay, too, because it's something we can all relate to. Life is messy. Characters' lives need to be the same.

So in Fitz's case, yes, he was mean. And it was sad and wrong and we all want to yell at him for it. But he had to. Think about it. Overnight, he'd basically lost everything--and that's about 10,000 times harder for a character like him because remember, he's grown up in a world where things like that just don't happen. And while there are lots of ways he could've reacted, I knew in Fitz's case he was going to be angry. 

So angry. 

I also knew that his anger was going to be targeted at poor Sophie, because of the role she played (in *his* mind) in what happened, and that it was going to be this ugly, explosive thing. But I had to let it happen because I had to trust Fitz. I had to let him work through his grief in whatever ways he needed to. Only then would he be able to heal. And now that he has, he can start making it right. 

So I hope that answers your question--and I hope you guys can see that I (and Fitz) had very good reasons for why things happened the way they did. 

Also: Can I tell you how much I LOVE that you all care this much about Sophie and Fitz??? You guys are the best. fans. EVER! 


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