I just did something truly horrible to my heroine. She's going have post-traumatic stress for a long time. No, seriously, she will. I'm going to have to deal with the aftereffects into the sequels.
(Before I go any further, let me just say that there's nothing sexual involved. I don't do sex, good or bad, in my stories. There's enough of that elsewhere. Sexual tension, yes, but not the act itself. Just so we're clear.)
So why did I do that? Because I could? Well, yeah. But also because the story needed it. She needed it. She needed to mature, as well as to fully realize the danger that the hero has been trying to protect her from all along.
There is a matter of building tension in a story, which eventually has to be brought to fruition. I had been hinting all along about bad things that could happen and the characters and I had gone to great lengths to prevent those things, but I realized I needed to let a few of them actually occur. For one thing, it brings in a lot of intense emotion. For another, it raises their motivation to never, ever let anything like that happen again.
And, lastly, it makes her vulnerable. I've done such a good job of shutting Faldur out of Marenya's life that I had to find a way of letting him back in. Though I'm at the point again where I'm not exactly sure how this romantic triangle is going to work out. I've always been somewhat ambivalent about the ending. Who lives, who dies, and who gets the girl? I could easily go either way.
How do you feel about doing bad things to your characters? Are you ever shocked by the vicarious deeds you commit?
Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day! I am a firm believer in this holiday. Even if you don't have anyone to cuddle today, go eat some CHOCOLATE!!!!