Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Saying Goodbye

I just thought of this. It is something that I wondered about and have asked other writers. How do you decide you are going to kill off a character? As Dr. Thomas said he didn’t know Megan was going to die, but that is what ended up happening. So I wanted to ask your thoughts about “killing” or “getting rid of” a character. Do you know from the beginning what is going to happen to your characters or does it just come to you?

For me personally I don’t like when characters I really like die. Yes of course I like it when the bad guy fails, but characters that I fall in love with I really hope they don’t die. A main example would be the Harry Potter series. I was so sad that some of the characters I enjoyed reading about died in the last book. I know it’s not realistic that all the good guys live and all the bad guys die, but I guess I really enjoy those super mega happy endings.

Now that I’m writing this I can see killing off a character being necessary and symbolic. Like in The Great Gatsby. I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone, but I really enjoyed the character, and I didn’t want them to die, but found their death more meaningful. I just want to know your thoughts and how you feel as a writer getting rid of a character that you spent time developing and getting close to and falling in love with them because they are of your own creation?


  1. Killing a character is hard. When you start writing , I don't think you plan on killing a character. However, as your story develops you know which character must die in order for your story to continue. I haven't had to kill any of my characters, but it is sometimes fun to think about. Some characters do however disappear from the story line because they become unimportant. Sometimes, when there are characters that don't appear again or are killed off, I imagine a whole new novel being written with them as the main character and seeing everything from their perspective. For example, I think it would be interesting to see Harry Potter unfold through the eyes of Voldemort or Draco Malfoy. The best example I can think of this being carried out is in the Lion King 1 ½ where the story is told by Timon and Pumbaa.

    I have also read The Great Gatsby and it does make you feel sad when they die. I think because you, as the reader, fall in love with the character and even fantasize about where you would take the character if you were the author of the book.

  2. I have not killed off very many characters, but the few times I have I usually had an idea that it was coming. I don't think I ever really planned it from the beginning. I just knew it could and probably would happen. That may sound weird, but if I plan to kill a character I worry that it will be obvious what I am planning. I cannot stand books where I know that a certain character is going to die. I can't think of any examples, but you know what I'm talking about. The books where there is a character that you like (or dislike), and it's obvious the author will kill them, either because the character is evil and that's how evil characters are dealt with, or because the character is likable and the author is trying to create a sad moment. When this happens I get annoyed because I predicted it would happen early on and it just doesn't have the same impact as a character death that feels natural.

    Basically, I don't want to know a character is going to die! It completely ruins the moment if I know ahead of time.

  3. I have only ever killed off one of my characters and it was actually a surprise to me originally. The story is a post-apocaliptic, zombie-esque type story with a main character and his mother being the center of most of the story. As I was writing a scene where they encounter a group of these zombie-esque creatures, I realized that in order for my main character to grow and the story to progress, that I would have to kill the mom. It was really hard because I had spent a good portion of the story building the relationship between the boy and his mom. In the end it was worth it and it is a very important part of my story because it marks a pivotal and important change in my main character.

    I think that killing a character is not something that should be done lightly. Authors who do it just because they can or because the character is "bad", are usually not as sucessful, in my opinion, as those authors who kill a character because it is necessary to the story. The story is the boss afterall.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.