Friday, April 12, 2013

K: Killing off characters

This is, perhaps, one of the hardest things to do in writing. Nobody wants to kill off the characters they have created. These books are our babies and the people with in them are our creations, our pride and joy, and we know everything about these characters!
Well, here's the reality of it .... If the character has to die to make the plot move forward and to make this story incredible, then bite the bullet and do it. It's hard, we all cry, and then you do what you need to. It's like the first time we realize that one of our books just isn't going to make it through. Killing off  our babies (books in this case - please don't suppose I am actually implying anything else) is hard, but we do what we have to in order to make stronger manuscripts and more solid, likable, and amazing characters - even if we make them die in the plot somewhere.
Killing off a character can do several things for a story. It can be the driving force for the hero/heroine, it can make the survival of others that much sweeter (say in a battle scene), or it can be the needed moment that allows the plot to proceed (as in a murder mystery - you can't have the mystery if there is no death of a character). But when an author builds up to that moment where you know someone must die (your are feeling for the characters, you are gripping your book so tight you knuckles turn white, and your heart is pounding as you try to determine who will survive, maybe even tearing up a bit) and the author denies you that moment, it's extremely disheartening. Especially if it is the climax of the story. Denying the reader that climax, that moment of truth, really will make or break a book for many. So yes, it's hard to kill off the characters. But ruining your story to save them all because you can't bring yourself to do it, is more likely to hurt your book than killing off the character would have hurt you.

8 comments:

  1. It is hard but sometimes it has to be done...so far i haven't had to kill anyone off, but i imagine there will come a day where a sacrifice must be made.

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  2. Hello, Rebecca! I haven't killed off any characters in my stories, but I might have to in the novel I'm currently planning. I'm not looking forward to it :(

    Happy A to Z-ing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

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    1. Prerna and Laura,
      I haven't had to kill off any characters in my novels yet either, though I did have one shot - twice ....
      But my current WIP will most likely have some deaths so I'm working up to that

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  3. Blog hopping to meet fellow writers and bloggers. Rebecca, I killed off a character in the first chapter of my debut novel, Wickedly They Come. And another main character at the end. I almost killed off the mother, but I couldn't do it.

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    1. Good for you having the courage to kill off characters if needed. I hate killing off characters too, but sometimes it has to be done. And I love the title of your novel! It's kind of chilling!

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  4. I haven't had to do that yet. I'm sure the day will come, though.

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  5. Ohhhhh I hate it when my favorite characters get killed off. At least, now I know the authors are upset too.... makes it a little better.

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  6. I second Connie, and please, don't just kill off characters because you don't know what to do with them! :) Plus, have you seen Stranger than Fiction? Makes you wonder.... ;)

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Thank you for your comments!