During my last manuscript, my CP gave me this nugget of information to chew on: I was writing good stories, but I wasn't writing books. I nodded like I understood, and I really thought I understood. I didn't. Until now.
I've got an amazing secondary character in this manuscript. He's not really in the story, he's the heroine's missing brother. For weeks I've been going back and forth trying to figure out if he lives or dies. At one point, I got excited last week and decided he would live, help the hero and heroine be triumphant, and star in his own book next. This would make an AWESOME story!
But it would ruin the book.
Today I was driving around town and listened to a song on the radio that clutched my heart and brought tears to my eyes. At that moment, I knew the brother had to die. As much as I like him and all that he stands for, his life has to be sacrificed for the good of the book. In order for the story to unfold the correct way and for the main characters to evolve as they should, his death is necessary.
I may not like it and I'll probably shed a tear or two at various times during the rest of the writing, but if I want to write a book that someone wants to buy and slip on bookstore shelves, I need to remember I'm not just telling a story, I'm writing a book.