I have long heard authors talk about torturing characters to make stories stronger. I have done a little of that with different characters in my stories.
The thing is, I find it easier to torturer one-time characters. Going one step further, torturing those characters that only appear in a short story.
I guess it’s like people. The better you get to know someone, the more protective of that person (assuming you like them) you get. Such is the way of it with my characters.
In fact, I have had to mentally prepare myself to do the necessary torturing with some of my recurring characters just so I can write the scenes effectively. Even then I sometimes find myself easing off on the characters. When that happens I have to step back, remind myself why I’m doing what I’m doing and then get back to being the hard case.
Still, it is funny to me that I have to do this. After all, the characters are not real people. They are my creations and, no matter how difficult I make it for them, I can still chose to let them live/die/whatever. The torture doesn’t have to be a lasting thing.
Regardless of what I can decide to do, I still have to remain true to my readers. If a character needs to die, I would be remiss in letting him or her live. If the character needs to have a crippling injury, that character has to suffer through the rehabilitation and possible long-term/permanent effects. To do anything different would be cheating.