Writers are often asked about their characters. Which is your favorite? Did you miss Jimmy when you finished the first book? Do you talk to any of them or hear them? Do you feel close to them? Were you sad when he died at the beginning of book two? This line of questioning, as I’ve attempted to demonstrate, can very quickly get more than a little creepy. It can also become quite meaningless to the reader.
It is true that as writers we do come to affiliate with our characters. They become important to us as we work to uncover their story. They are indeed our “boots on the ground” and often our porthole (to thoroughly mix metaphors) to what is or will happen on the page. There is no story without them. In all this, we are very much first readers.
I recently thought about these things as I was considering a character from one of my short stories and getting ready to invent another character for another story. For my part I concluded that I don’t think I miss characters when I’m done writing them. But there are characters that come on and off my pages only briefly that I wish I’d had the opportunity to know better.