Good writers introduce characters. They let you get to know them, slowly, bit by bit, as if they were opening their hearts to you. Some you come to hate, as if they were your own mortal enemies. Others you come to love like real friends. Whether you love them or hate them, they come to life as the story plays out in your head.
You experience the good with them, as they find their first love, their passion, as they explore their individuality.
Then the writers rip your heart out and leave you bleeding. They put your new found friends over hardships that are cruel and heartbreaking. Their trials and tribulations hit you hard as you feel their pain as if you are experiencing the hardships yourself.
Some writers try to help put you back together. They sometimes give your favourite characters a happy ending. Your friends survive their hardship and come out better and stronger. And so do you, as you finish the book with a sigh of relief and a tinge of regret at not being able to see how the characters age and change over time.
Other writers are not so kind. One by one, your friends will be dragged through the coals (sometimes quite literally) and you see them break under the pressure. Sometimes it kills them. Sometimes they survive, only to continue living a broken life. Or the experience changes them so drastically they no longer resemble what they were before, and they become cold and hard, like a diamond that would cut through anything that gets in their way, while preventing anything from harming them ever again.
That is the power of the written word. To lift you up into the sky, then watch you fall as gravity hits you harder than before, but always providing a safety net for you at the bottom, whether in the form of a happy ending, or just the knowledge that these people, these friends you’ve gotten to know so well, are fictional and you can write a different ending for them for yourself in hopes of a better tomorrow.