To kill, or not to kill?

7 months ago | AdamBolander (Member)

So, I'm nearly done with the sequel to Juryokine, but I've got a bit of a problem. Where I am in the story, Toke wants to marry this girl he met, but her father doesn't want him to. In their country, the parents of the bride and groom are able to give a test to the other to determine whether they deserve to marry their child. Earlier in the story, they got attacked by pirates, and Toke had to be rescued when their captain nearly kidnapped him. The father says that he's concerned Toke won't be able to protect his daughter if they were to get married, and so makes it Toke's test to hunt down and kill the pirate captain. Up till now, Toke has had a strict "no killing" rule, which admittedly makes his life much harder since he's being hunted down as a criminal himself. The father says that Toke has to kill the captain, with him there to watch, and ONLY Toke can do it. Any interference, and the wedding is off.

My question is, would it be more satisfying to finally see Toke let go of that last bit of innocence he has and kill the pirate captain, or should I have him find a way to let him live and still convince the father to let him marry his daughter? I can easily write the story either way, but I don't know which way would be better received. I honestly feel like not killing the pirate but still getting married would be the happier ending, but here's the thing: in future books the conflict is going to keep escalating, and sooner or later Toke is going to have to start killing people. This would be as good a time as any to introduce him to that. After all, this pirate is a notorious murderer and thief. Killing him isn't like killing some innocent civilian. And having him fight to keep his optimism in this book might make it feel repetitious in future books when the problem arises again, and this time he actually has to kill someone.

So... what do you guys think? Kill him or let him live?

Author of The Gray Ranger, The Slayer and The Sphinx, Juryokine, Amber Silverblood, and more! Read for free on http://www.bolanderbooks.com

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Responses

  1. unice5656 (Member)

    Posted 7 months ago

    "I can easily write the story either way"

    Kind of a problem there. Given the world setting and your character within that setting, there should be only one possible way that character would act.

  2. Scott Scherr (Member)

    Posted 7 months ago

    Well... being unfamiliar with your story and Toke, my perspective is limited. But I will say that it sounds like this is a significant turning point for your character if he goes through with killing the pirate, which will affect him at the core of who he is, and everything else around him, including his bride-to-be. If Toke is a good man (and I don't know if he is) it seems rather shallow or self-serving to kill this pirate captain just to marry the girl, regardless of how evil the captain is. If Toke firmly believes in 'no killing', then it seems out of character for him to be baited into this situation by his girl's father. Wouldn't it be easier for him just to accept that he can't marry her... not like this? Will the two of them 'not marrying' at this time ruin their relationship? If he's already being hunted down as a criminal (assuming that he's not), doesn't that make murdering a man for personal gain an added strain on his relationship or reputation, making it harder to live the life he wants to with the girl, anyway? These are just some questions that immediately pop into my head when I consider your question.

    Only you know these characters and where their futures are headed, but since you asked, I think it would be more rewarding as a reader to continue to see Toke strive to maintain his integrity, no matter the cost. I think that's a much more compelling story, that doesn't necessarily guarantee a 'happy ending' if the world around him is out to get him. But, once he becomes his potential father-in-law's 'killer', Toke will suffer the consequences for those actions and it might even make your story more predictable from there on. But again, I don't know this character or the journey that's brought him to this point.

    I once deliberated a similar situation in my story (albeit, completely different circumstances) where one character could either kill another character or let her live. It took me a month to make this decision because the outcome either way would cause significant changes to my storyline. In the end, I opted to stay consistent with my character... and that, for me, was the right choice, regardless of whether it was the popular choice or not.

    Whatever you decide, consider it carefully and weigh the consequences to your story. It's never easy to kill off characters, but it should be just as difficult to have another character do the killing, unless Toke is a morally corrupted character to begin with.

    Just my 2 cents ;)

    Author of the apocalyptic series, Don't Feed The Dark. http://freezombienovel.wordpress.com
  3. AdamBolander (Member)

    Posted 7 months ago

    Thanks for the input, guys!

    @Unice, the reason I can write it both ways is because of how I can make things play out. The pirate is a side antagonist who's been traveling with the main baddie. Part of the reason he agrees to the father's test is so that he can get to the main baddie as well. When Toke arrives, he's going to fight the captain and then realize that Mr. BigBad isn't there, and has actually set off to find Toke himself, leading Toke to make a frantic trip back home before the main baddie can hurt his parents or bride-to-be. Now, if I have Toke kill the captain, another crewmember will tell him where the bad guy went. If I spare him, the captain himself will tell Toke, making him panic and run off without killing him. Then when he gets home and has the final battle, the girl will tell her father (he got left behind) about how Toke single handedly saved everyone, and her father will be impressed enough by that to let them get married even without killing the pirate captain.

    @Scott, Toke isn't a criminal. He was accused of launching a one man attack to blow up an entire city, when in truth he was the one who stopped the attack. So he's definitely a good person, even if everyone else thinks otherwise. He doesn't necessarily have anything against killing, it's just a door he doesn't want to open. In the last book, he actually set out to kill the bad guy, but as luck would have it the bad guy ended up killing himself. His partner, Zashiel, will kill people without batting an eye, and he has no problem with that so long as its justified. But like Zashiel keeps telling him, "You'll always have a small spark of innocence left in you, and the only way to snuff it out is to take the life of another person." If the pirate were attacking Toke's home and threatening his family, Toke could probably be convinced to kill him. But like this, chasing after him and murdering him in cold blood, doesn't feel right to him, so he naturally doesn't want to do it.

    Does that change anything?

    Author of The Gray Ranger, The Slayer and The Sphinx, Juryokine, Amber Silverblood, and more! Read for free on http://www.bolanderbooks.com
  4. Scott Scherr (Member)

    Posted 7 months ago

    Thanks for the additional insight. It just confirms with me that the 'no killing' route is still the better story. It sounds like you've already answered your own question, unless Toke is easily influenced by others? In a nutshell, I'll just say, stay true to your character, which ever course that turns out to be. Good luck.

    Author of the apocalyptic series, Don't Feed The Dark. http://freezombienovel.wordpress.com
  5. AdamBolander (Member)

    Posted 7 months ago

    Thanks!

    Author of The Gray Ranger, The Slayer and The Sphinx, Juryokine, Amber Silverblood, and more! Read for free on http://www.bolanderbooks.com
  6. Sharkerbob (Member)

    Posted 7 months ago

    No time like the present. If he's going to have to start killing anyway, this could very easily be the critical tipping point that could be referred back to later, and form a thematic bridhe to the rest of the series.

  7. unice5656 (Member)

    Posted 7 months ago

    From your description of how things play out, you wouldn't be manipulating the world to force your character into killing or not killing at all. He clearly could kill or not kill the captain and the story would continue the same way. Therefore, it's all down to whether he would in that situation and my original point still stands. Know your characters. They'll never feel real to people if you're not even certain of something major like whether they would kill somebody in a certain situation.

  8. mathtans (Member)

    Posted 7 months ago

    Um. What's the daughter aka bride-to-be think about it? I feel like that's a really pivotal question not being addressed. What's her view on her father's belief? Does she go along with it, thinking she might need protection? Does she abhor even the idea of killing of a mosquito? And if she's not even *IN* on this plan, I feel like that's going to be a huge conflict upcoming (which might be why you said you could go either way, I don't know). But even without her knowing, Toke should have a pretty damn good idea of what she'd want, if she's going to be his bride. Just... yeah, maybe Toke should talk to her? Honestly, she feels more at the centre of this than the pirate captain.

    Writing a Time Travel serial: http://mathtans.wordpress.com
    Writer of the personification of math serial: http://www.mathtans.ca
  9. AdamBolander (Member)

    Posted 7 months ago

    @mathtans She is 100% okay with it. Reason being that she's actually one of the most famous assassins in her country, so death is something she's more than used to. Also, in her country the mother and father of the bride are both allowed to make a test for the other to determine if they're worthy of marrying their kid, so to her this is just something that has to happen.

    Author of The Gray Ranger, The Slayer and The Sphinx, Juryokine, Amber Silverblood, and more! Read for free on http://www.bolanderbooks.com
  10. AdamBolander (Member)

    Posted 7 months ago

    In light of that, I should point out that the whole "You can't protect her" thing is more of an excuse her dad is using than a real concern he has.

    Author of The Gray Ranger, The Slayer and The Sphinx, Juryokine, Amber Silverblood, and more! Read for free on http://www.bolanderbooks.com
  11. AdamBolander (Member)

    Posted 7 months ago

    Well, I finally wrote the scene, and I feel like I've struck a balance between letting Toke's darker side come out while not letting him go too far. Would anyone be interested in beta reading this one scene and letting me know what they think?

    Author of The Gray Ranger, The Slayer and The Sphinx, Juryokine, Amber Silverblood, and more! Read for free on http://www.bolanderbooks.com

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