When it comes to books, there are two audiences. The author of the book and the readers of the book. Sometimes, they agree and have a wonderful experience on both ends. But most of the time, they have slightly different ideas of what should happen to the characters and how the story should end.
One of the most extreme cases of Writer/Reader Controversy is Character Abuse.
Character Abuse (noun) – the sufferings, both physical and emotional, of a fictional personage.
Physical abuse includes but is not limited to torture, loss of limbs, stabbing, electrocution, medical experimentation, deep cuts and gashes, falling from heights, and imprisonment.
Emotional abuse can stem from physical abuse, but it’s definitely its own kind of pain. It can include loss, failure, stress, panic, injustice, and more.
The Writer/Reader Controversy over Character Abuse is an intense battle, because the Reader always roots for the success of the character, but the Writer intends to ruin said character’s life. There is balance, then, for the Writer to please their audience while at the same time offering a story with stakes.
While it may seem oxymoronic, the Readers who fight most heartily for their beloved character’s well-being are normally the Writers who abuse their characters the most readily.
We’re an interesting group, Writers/Readers. We create our own worlds and destroy them, live in painful agony once they’re gone, and then ask to experience it all over again.