“And I see you still / and there’s this catch in my throat / and I just swallow hard ’til it leaves me”

So ever since reading Madeleine L’Engle’s Arm of the Starfish, I’ve known it was dangerous for me to fall in love with a character, because whenever I’m reading a book and there’s a character I become especially fond of, that character instantly becomes the character most likely to die by the end of the story.

But really, I didn’t think this rule extended to the Zombies, Run! game. Really.

As a younger reader, I actually did believe I had some sort of fall-in-love-with-doomed-characters curse. As a writer, I know the truth is worse, because writers do this on purpose. If you decide a story needs for a character who’s more or less on the protagonist’s side to die, that death is going to be more meaningful and reverberate through the story more effectively if we make sure the reader cares about them first. And killing only the characters we hate not only feels like cheating, but doesn’t make for a satisfying story. If the stakes are high, they’re high for everyone, and not only for the characters we dislike.

Still and all. Every time reader-me falls in love with a particular sort of character in a particular sort of way? I feel a certain protective fear, wondering if it’s about to happen yet again.

Fascinating how that fear keeps me reading, instead of scaring me away from turning the pages. Sometimes, the alchemy of reading and writing is strange stuff.

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