Killing off a character


  1. Alexander.Hollins (Member)

    Posted 9 years ago

    Wysteria, I plot events that will happen, and sequence, but I often find that the actual writing changes the plot, as the characters say or do something, or I describe something, and suddenly the upcoming plot makes no sense. Sometimes I alter the story for the plot, and pray I don't have to alter if further. Sometimes, new plot.

    And, I for one am a lover of Chekov's blank. That is, showing something in such a way that it seems unimportant at the TIME, but astute readers KNOW will be important. Showing it several times. And having it never be used. BWAHAHAHAHAH.

  2. Stormy (Moderator)

    Posted 9 years ago

    Stef, I killed off at the end of book #1, but she comes back - it's part of her character development, not me chickening out after killing the MC.

    Other characters...haven't killed anyone major yet, and I do fear being the wuss that can't kill anyone, though it's more that I haven't found a reason to kill off anyone yet, and it's not something to take lightly. I have, er, "kill spots" lined up for a couple of characters, though whether or not I'll go ahead with it will depend on how that particular story goes. I also have a death scene written for a couple of characters - I know how they're going to die, but not when.

  3. noodles (Member)

    Posted 9 years ago

    My main character has "died" twice already (he got better both times). I know that must sound like the crappiest crap of all Craptown, but it's all to a purpose (not that that precludes the possibility that it may indeed be crap). Ironically, another of my main characters is headed for a "for reals" demise soon; no "backsies". And I'm getting kind of nervous as that chapter creeps closer.

  4. John Crandall (Member)

    Posted 9 years ago

    I plotted the entire series out. And that i'm planning to kill off at least two characters ... but I'm just not sure. It's a tough call. - the free science fiction, action-adventure humor-hyphen-thingy
  5. zoewhitten (Member)

    Posted 9 years ago

    I've been glancing at this post for a while, but hadn't yet thought of how to sum up my thoughts on character death. Since I work in dark fiction, a lot of characters get killed, usually the people you'd expect like bit character victims. But I have killed secondary and even main characters. If I've painted a character into a corner, and there really is no way out, then I have to let them go. We talk all the time in editing about being willing to killing our darlings, so I don't see much difference in the earlier stage with characters.

    This does not mean it doesn't affect me, and I wrote a really long (utterly unpublishable) tragedy during the summer where the main character died at the end. I still can't think of the last line without going to pieces, and I still wish I could save him. But the story was a tragedy because he killed himself, and he didn't have to.

    When I break down about it, I feel stupid. I tell hubby, "I'm silly for mourning a person who was never real." But hubby says, "They were real to you." And that's true, so I don't feel quite so weird for bawling about a dead character six months later.

  6. Miladysa (Member)

    Posted 9 years ago

    The majority of my characters start off dead or end up that way. As the story has multiple timelines I can always write something about a character in the past, or future, if the story requires it.

    I think I will experience the "loss" problem though when I finish the story completely. Then the story itself will be dead, well to me, as the writer. That will be my mourning period.

  7. Alexander.Hollins (Member)

    Posted 9 years ago

    zoe, I think I'm the weird one here. Times like that, I kinda think of the characters like actors. They've finished their role, they died a good on stage death, but there still hanging around, waiting to lend their talents to the next production.

  8. zoewhitten (Member)

    Posted 9 years ago

    Alexander, it's a good way to look at it. But I can't make myself believe it. Once a character dies, that's it. They might live on in another multiverse, but in this one, they're gone.

  9. Dary (Member)

    Posted 9 years ago

    I intend to knock off a number of characters, but not until they've been suitably embedded into the hearts of the readership. And those characters are the lucky ones...

  10. ubersoft (Member)

    Posted 9 years ago

    I generally assume I'm NOT going to kill off a character I've put any time and effort into developing. I am sort of the anti-George R. R. Martin in that respect: if I enjoy writing about a character I see no value in not being able to write about that character any more.

    Curveball (Updating)
    A Rake by Starlight (Updating)
  11. John Crandall (Member)

    Posted 9 years ago

    Frankly, like I was thinking when I begin this topic, ... I don't know if I have the guts to kill off the characters I like. Does that make me a weak writer?

    And no one say the obvious line: "No, your bad writing makes you a weak writer." badumpbump. - the free science fiction, action-adventure humor-hyphen-thingy
  12. ubersoft (Member)

    Posted 9 years ago

    I think there's an assumption among some writers that if you don't kill of your characters, you're a weak writer. I think that assumption is absolutely wrong. The only thing you have to do to make a book work is to get your audience to buy into the story you're telling. If they buy into it you can do anything, including have absolutely nobody die at all.

    Curveball (Updating)
    A Rake by Starlight (Updating)
  13. Ryan A. Span (Member)

    Posted 9 years ago

    If it's time for somebody to die, I don't really have a problem killing them off. STREET has already seen four significant secondary cast members bite the bullet. There's gonna be some main cast casualties, too, before the story's finished

    Generally I prefer character deaths to be climactic and significant. Sometimes, though, people don't get to die as heroes. They just die.


  14. Alexander.Hollins (Member)

    Posted 9 years ago

    One of my primary's is going to eat a bullet before its all said and done, and no ones going to see it coming. BWAHAHAHAH!

    and no, bad writing does not make you a weak writer. refusing to try and IMPROVE your bad writing, makes you a weak writer.

  15. Kess (Member)

    Posted 9 years ago

    I think you should do what suits the story. Sometimes, that means being honest when it's 'time' to kill of a character - and then brave enough to do it.

    Back when I was writing the Apocalypse Blog, I came up against this issue much more forcefully than in anything else I've written. It's hard! Especially when you're attached to them. But sometimes, it has to be done, and your story wil be better and stronger for it. I even wound up writing a blog post about it ( ).

    There's nothing wrong with not killing characters - it's all about purpose. Their lives should have a purpose in the story, and so should their deaths.

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