Sodaro's Stories

April 13, 2015

Killing off Characters –when it’s needed, when it’s not (A-Z blog)

Different authors have different feelings about this and as with everything I have said and will say about the writing process, you have to find what works for you. Think about books you have read where characters have been killed off…did you feel cheated? Was the author doing it just to do it, or was there a reason for that character’s death?

I have talked about the necessity of bad guys in novels and oftentimes, they are behind the killing off of the characters. When you’re writing, when things are in your control, ask yourself…is the bad guy killing of this character to move the plot forward? Do the actions of the antagonist or nature or whatever did the killing, have to happen for the protagonist to act or grow? Or is the bad guy just killing people off because he can? Because he is after all, the bad guy. (Insert hand wringing and the Mwahahaha evil laughter). Remember your bad guy has goals and the deaths he causes should further his agenda (and of course women can be evil characters too…don’t get all crazy because of my use of the masculine pronoun).

In the books I write and the books I enjoy reading, any character’s death means something. I don’t just kill off my characters all willy-nilly and just because I can (trust me, if this was the case, Prince Nicholas would not have survived Arianna’s Honor to make it to the sequel). My characters’ lives had a purpose and so do their deaths.

Sometimes that purpose is to pus the hero to do what needed to be done. Arianna needed a push. Jac and Jyn needed a push. In my current novel, Broken Trust, a character died earlier in Sam’s life. His death helped her to grow into the artist and person she needed to become. Death means something. It matters in real life and it should matter in fiction.

In my mind, killing off characters should not be easy. If it is easy to get rid of them, I would have to ask myself if that character was really necessary to begin with. Just my personal thoughts, of course.

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