I embarrassed a kid with a grandfather suffering from early stages Alzheimer’s. Made his life miserable from bullying. Then I made him choose between ratting out his own grandfather or staying out of trouble in order to get something he wanted (RATFINK).
Right now I’m working on a book in which a character makes one teeny-tiny decision in an effort to earn parental respect. That one choice results in the entire town being threatened with obliteration. You know what? It’s hard being a kid when you might be responsible for the annihilation of the entire human race.
Yes, I’ve been mean. I created worlds full of problems; making my characters suffer emotional distress and physical peril in their journeys to becoming the people they were meant to be. But all those things pale in comparison to what I did to Ely.
Ely lives in an apocalyptic world with a foe determined to do her and her family harm. But THAT’S not the meanest thing I did to her because Ely is strong. She has talent and ability and fortitude. I’m pretty sure she could save herself and conquer her foe. But she hasn’t. Why not? Because I plunked Ely in a messy world and then turned my back on her; leaving her stranded in a story that I never bothered to finish. I never wrote that words that let Ely fight, grow, and transform.
So, the absolute cruelest thing I’ve ever done to one of my characters?
I. Didn't. Write. Her. Story.