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Author Topic: When Should a Writer Kill of Their Characters?  (Read 2829 times)

Offline tebakutis

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When Should a Writer Kill of Their Characters?
« on: September 03, 2015, 05:15:24 PM »
I recently wrote a blog post discussing good reasons to kill off your POV (and other characters) in literature and movies over at C. S. MacCath's blog, Dispatches from the Word Mines. If a character death in fiction has ever shocked or annoyed you, you might find it interesting!

http://csmaccath.com/content/dispatches-word-mines-when-should-writer-kill-their-characters-t-eric-bakutis

Offline JMack

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Re: When Should a Writer Kill of Their Characters?
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2015, 05:44:20 PM »
I recently wrote a blog post discussing good reasons to kill off your POV (and other characters) in literature and movies over at C. S. MacCath's blog, Dispatches from the Word Mines. If a character death in fiction has ever shocked or annoyed you, you might find it interesting!

http://csmaccath.com/content/dispatches-word-mines-when-should-writer-kill-their-characters-t-eric-bakutis

Read it with much interest.

Spoiler alert for A Crown for Cold Silver:
Spoiler for Hiden:
Sister Portoles, after traipsing around the world to find our MC, dies. Thematically, this works. Characters are constantly misunderstanding each. Information goes awry, arrives too late, is partial or just plain wrong. SP's death is the biggest instance of this.

And yet it pissed me off. It really broke the agreement for me. She could have gotten a toothache and dies of septicemia for all the good her heroism and incredible stubborn loyalty did her or us.

OK, got that out of my system.

I particularly like your comments about Gandalf. There was a view expressed in another thread that Gandalf's death is too facile, too much plot mechanics over organic story. I've always disagreed, and I think your post does a good job explaining why it's important.

Why does it work? Because when you read it in 1974, no one tells you he comes back. When you read it or see it in 2010, everyone knows. It's like the scene in the movie Shakespeare in Love where we see the audience's reaciton to Romeo's and Juliet's deaths at the very first performance of the play ever. They didn't know what was coming. They're shocked. From that day on, so to speak, the knife's out of the bag.
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
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Offline Rostum

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Re: When Should a Writer Kill of Their Characters?
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2015, 01:16:20 AM »
Q. When Should a Writer Kill off Their Characters?
A. When they are feeling merciful.

Offline ClintACK

Re: When Should a Writer Kill of Their Characters?
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2015, 01:44:05 AM »
Q. When Should a Writer Kill off Their Characters?
A. When they are feeling merciful.

Pshaw.

We're writing science fiction and fantasy, folks.  Killing off our characters needn't end their suffering.

Offline ultamentkiller

Re: When Should a Writer Kill of Their Characters?
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2015, 02:40:03 AM »
Brilliant post. I fully agree with it. Keep it coming!

Offline m3mnoch

Re: When Should a Writer Kill of Their Characters?
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2015, 05:09:39 AM »
Q. When Should a Writer Kill off Their Characters?
A. When they are feeling merciful.

Pshaw.

We're writing science fiction and fantasy, folks.  Killing off our characters needn't end their suffering.

VICTORY!

Offline Summer

Re: When Should a Writer Kill of Their Characters?
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2015, 04:36:05 PM »
good reasons to kill off your POV (and other characters) in literature and movies

Hero's Journey is good for understanding this. It's to do with the archetypes, their roles and so on.

In Star Wars, Uncle Owen is a certain archetype who dies at a certain time, Ben Kenobi is a certain archetype who dies at a certain time....you can kill them or switch their roles as their functions complete. The 2100+ stage hero's journey goes into this.

Offline GordonAtkins

Re: When Should a Writer Kill of Their Characters?
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2015, 05:40:35 PM »
If the time is right for a character to die, then that character should die. Keeping them alive just for the sake of it is wrong, your gut instinct should tell you that. You should never hesitate from killing a character, if its right to do so. At the end of the day, there is no formula, or right/wrong time to kill a character, only the author themselves will have the answer.


Offline JMack

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Re: When Should a Writer Kill of Their Characters?
« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2015, 06:24:50 PM »
I amuse myself thinking about whether writers outside of SFF often think about this issue.  ;D
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
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Offline ClintACK

Re: When Should a Writer Kill of Their Characters?
« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2015, 06:57:47 PM »
I amuse myself thinking about whether writers outside of SFF often think about this issue.  ;D

Certainly writers of horror, suspense, thrillers, mystery, crime, espionage, intrigue, and war all have to think about death.

Romance novelists don't seem to have this problem.  They have to stress over how to keep their characters from jumping in bed together too soon.

I think we have it easier.

Offline ArhiX

Re: When Should a Writer Kill of Their Characters?
« Reply #10 on: September 25, 2015, 12:53:26 AM »
I amuse myself thinking about whether writers outside of SFF often think about this issue.  ;D

Certainly writers of horror, suspense, thrillers, mystery, crime, espionage, intrigue, and war all have to think about death.

Romance novelists don't seem to have this problem.  They have to stress over how to keep their characters from jumping in bed together too soon.

I think we have it easier.

Hell no! We have to restrain ourselves from throwing our characters to graves too soon. At least not without making them feel sweet, oh so sweet pain and despair.

Lot's of them.

I wonder, where this is going. You know... This ever more dark fantasy genre...
"The world is full of stories, and from time to time, they permit themselves to be told."

Offline ultamentkiller

Re: When Should a Writer Kill of Their Characters?
« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2015, 03:27:06 AM »
I read one series a few years ago that had the stupidest ending. The whole world blew up and everybody died. It was rediculous. Granted, he managed to fix it in the last chapter by some stupid all-powerful way, but it annoyed me.
If you're going to blow up you're whole world, you have to at least make me feel like it's a tragedy.
Probably more novels with similar endings to that, except done better. Hopefully.

Offline JMack

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Re: When Should a Writer Kill of Their Characters?
« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2015, 11:45:51 AM »
I read one series a few years ago that had the stupidest ending. The whole world blew up and everybody died. It was rediculous. Granted, he managed to fix it in the last chapter by some stupid all-powerful way, but it annoyed me.
If you're going to blow up you're whole world, you have to at least make me feel like it's a tragedy.
Probably more novels with similar endings to that, except done better. Hopefully.

Gosh, I wonder what series we're talking about here?  ;) ;) ;)
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
www.starlit-lands.com