One thing I enjoy most about writing a series is that you don’t have to let go of your characters so quickly.
I get really attached to some of my characters while writing my book. (Yes, I know they’re not real; I don’t send them Christmas or birthday gifts.) But while I’m working on a book, they’re very real to me. Sitting down at my computer and tapping into their world is like visiting friends. Which probably means I need to get out more.
There have been times that I’ve finished a book and gotten a little tearful over letting these characters go, saying goodbye to them. After spending day after day, month after month, involved in their lives, you know their strengths and weaknesses and quirks. You’ve been there for them during the good times and bad. Sometimes you’ve even had to rescue them from the bad guys.
When I wrote the Full House series with Janet Evanovich, several of the characters were with me for over three years. I knew, in writing the sixth book, that I was tying everything up in order to end the series. Afterwards, I had to pack up or discard all the background information on the characters, the town, and everything else that had to do with the series. It was a sad day, sort of like sending your kid off to college.
But what are your options? If letting go of these people isn’t difficult, it might mean you don’t know them as well as you should. So there’s an emotional price you pay because characterization is everything.
The good news about letting go and sending their stories to your editor is the check you receiving upon completion of the book. Those checks go a long way toward helping you deal with the loss.