Death scenes are difficult to pull off convincingly. I am sure that whenever a writer chooses to let one of the characters die, it’s an agonizing decision for him/her.
Killing a character in a series can be quite a hard task. I feel it would require a very strong reason for the character’s death. And the readers have to contend with reading the rest of the books in the series minus their favourite character.
Well, I shouldn’t be saying this, but when Dumbledore died in the Potter books, I cried. I also soaked my handkerchief when Dobby died. Even the characters in Hunger Games, the ones in the arena who had to die a gruesome death made me uncomfortable. I’m not sure I can put myself up to killing one of my characters.
For one of my Picture Books ( I have never written a PB, these are just short stories I hope to pitch as Picture Books), I did make one of the main characters die. My new Crit Partner Andrea Mack was appalled. She thought small children would be distraught at the character’s death. In the new version the death was eliminated.
So far I have been extremely lucky that I have not had to kill a character in my Middle Grade books. Though in the Zespirit Trilogy I am writing, there are a few characters the villain kills. But I show them as flashback scenes. And the readers never meet these characters. They just hear about them.
A writer I met told me that when she doesn’t know what to do with a character she kills them off. I thought that was weird and sheer laziness. There has to be a better reason to kill a character. Killing a character and starting the story in flashback is taking the easy way out. But it’s a workable idea.
I feel that the death of any character should be crucial to the plot. The character’s death should literally turn the story upside down. There should be a strong plot twist, a few revelations and secrets that tumble out of the closet with the death of a character.
Have any of you killed a character in your books? Do you plan to kill a favourite character in one of your stories? How will you go about it? The death of which character in a book made you feel sad? Any killing advice you can give us?
I liked the last lines... any killing advice.... will come back to read who gives the best one:)ReplyDelete
I think you have to make the readers care about the character but not make them angry when they die. A hard thing to balance.ReplyDelete
Awesome you and Andrea are blog partners. Killing off characters is hard but in trilogies, at least fantasy, paranormal, and dystopian, it does seem common.ReplyDelete
I was sad when Dumbledore and Dobby died too.
I've killed off a number of characters in my stories. Sometimes it was hard, sometimes it wasn't. It depends on how much I identify with the character.ReplyDelete
Great topic! As a reader I can say I do feel very sad when a character I like dies. But I am in the pits if the main character and one I like the most is killed.ReplyDelete
I can understand that deaths do appear in stories as in life, but I certainly agree that knocking off a person for no other reason than not knowing to do with her/him is not the right thing to do, IMHO
Death is the subject that makes me uncomfortable. I get super-emotional and even angry at the writer when my favorite character gets killed. hahaReplyDelete
Nice topic. Thanks for sharing with us..
I agree that you need a good reason to kill a character. Especially, if you want it to have impact in the story. I have no qualms about killing characters, but I find the greater challenge is to keep characters alive when they storyline or plot tries to kill them. If you can do this, it'll greatly increase the tension in the story.ReplyDelete
Yes I have, and it was a tough decision. But But it was the best way to spur the other main character to do what he did in the end.ReplyDelete
Geez, I've done real massacres in my stories. The first book I ever wrote, I killed characters everywhere. It seems I always have to kill someone. However, to my credit, none of them have died in vain.ReplyDelete
I need to get better at killing off characters. Perhaps I should look to George R.R. Martin for inspiration.ReplyDelete
In my latest, I killed off a major character and my beta readers called me as soon as they read it and said, why did you kill him. They were actually upset. That is the reaction you want. Great post.ReplyDelete
I have to work up to killing a character. It takes me several days of finding reasons not to write or writing rubbish. Then one day, I wake and say, "I'm killing him today." And I do it. It doesn't take too long. It's not fun. But it changes the story. I've done it more in short stories than in novels.ReplyDelete
Yes, I have, and . . .it was tough. I had a good reason, in a way . . .I wanted my character to stand alone. The characters I killed off were in her main support group. I know that sounds terrible, but I was also trying to show the painful realities of an all-out war and how that might take a toll on individuals and a country. I've been in trouble with a bunch of my readers over one of the deaths, and have been asked if I'm going to resurrect anyone. I have been looking at the second book in the trilogy and actually thinking about it . . .but I wouldn't be resurrecting one character because it just wouldn't work.ReplyDelete
Mainly, my reason was to change the outcome and direction of the story as a whole. One character, though, I wish I had kept alive. But . . .he's gone now, and I can't bring him back in a healthy way.
Hi friends, thanks for chiming in with your thoughts on killing characters in our stories. I have never gone down that path, but I know that if I were to kill one of my characters, it would have a solid reason.ReplyDelete
Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.
I killed off a favourite character once. It took me months to make the decision, even though I knew it had to be done for the story. It was so difficult to write.ReplyDelete
Just occasionally I am annoyed or sad that a character has been killed off. More often I reassure myself: "Oh, HE won't be killed off, the story will lose too much!" -- And usually I am right!ReplyDelete
I've never killed a main character and I don't like it when they're killed off. And you left out Hedwig, lol! Couldn't Harry have just given him to someone or set him free?ReplyDelete
I did kill off a secondary character, but he was a bad guy and not someone you got to know.
There were two people that had to get killed in my book, and it broke my heart both times. But it was like you said - they both were very important to the plot and I really had no other choice without making the story too contrite. Writer’s MarkReplyDelete
I haven't written a death scene in ages. I'm positive my early efforts were pretty bad.ReplyDelete
I agree, killing a character has to go with the plot. It reminds me of the "everything should be in the plot for a reason" line of thought. I don't like it when I read a book with loose ends, and don't want to write one either! Good food for thought. Have a great week!ReplyDelete
I've had a couple of people murdered but one was a villain and one was just not particularly likeable. There is also a lot of death due to disease and malnourishment among the lower class in my WIP, but it's only described in general terms. If it was a well-loved central character, I imagine it would be that much harder. I definitely agree it should be integral to the plot and not because the author didn't know what to do with them.ReplyDelete
I agree. It is lazy to just kill off a character if you don't know what to do with them.ReplyDelete
I've never killed a character in my stories...yet. I'm sure I'll ball my eyes out when I do.
Just found your blog! So nice to 'meet' you :)
I've killed a character, and it was hard. It's so difficult to pull of the emotion that death brings in real life.ReplyDelete
Mmm... for some cruel reason, I usually have a sense of which of my characters might die later.ReplyDelete
Never been able to write so far into a story though, but now I just might have to. Which means I'm in for some serious heart-break.
It must be the only way the author feels is authentic to the story--especially if the reader is sure to bond with the character. In Katherine Patterson's Bridge to Terabithia, Patterson allows Leslie Burke to die, resulting in angry readers, but also a Newbury Award...ReplyDelete
Death scenes are hard to pull off well. Great post!ReplyDelete
I've killed characters. It's heart-wrenching and traumatic but I always have a reason for it. It can't just be because that character is in the way and needs to be disposed of, that would be irresponsible writing.ReplyDelete
For me, each character has a journey. Death is a part of that journey, it's natural, but it also has to make a point to the reader in some way.