1. PrettyLittleWonderland
    Offline

    PrettyLittleWonderland New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2012
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    USA

    Creative ways to bring a character back to life

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by PrettyLittleWonderland, Mar 26, 2012.

    I am struggling with whether or not I want my main character to die at the end of the series. Basically, she just saved the country/world and then, when everyone thinks everything is safe, she gets killed. I was thinking of having her die but then come back to life... I just don't want to use any cop outs like she's suddenly magical, or there was a spell put on her so that she can't die, etc. Are there any creative but not extremely outlandish ways to kill a character and have them come back? Or should I keep her alive, or just have her die and leave it at that? My novel isn't supernatural, or magical, or anything like that (just normal people in a normal country) but there are some huge technological advancements since it's set in the future.
     
  2. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,724
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    In Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan, Spock died at the end, but in a very science-fictiony way that allowed him to rise again. If you've got huge technological advancements, you might want to use them.

    But I find this kind of thing predictable and unsatisfying. To me, if a character has served her purpose in the story and is now dead, let her stay dead. Let the readers remember her as a hero who did great deeds and gave her life doing them. Sometimes, I think, if a character saves the world but doesn't pay the price, it cheapens the great deeds, and her life, and the story as a whole, is lessened because of it. Bringing her back to life just because you love your character isn't a good enough reason.

    Shakespeare gleefully killed off his heroes, villains, and everybody in between, because he understood they gained in stature in their deaths. This kind of thing happens in real life, too. Look at Abraham Lincoln. He's regarded as one of the greatest presidents, and greatest men, America ever produced, and he saved the Union and freed the slaves. But would his legend have grown as large if he'd only been wounded in that assassination attempt? That he gave his life enhanced his reputation, I think.

    I say let your MC stay dead. Your readers' memories of her will be the sweeter for it.
     
  3. killbill
    Offline

    killbill Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2012
    Messages:
    559
    Likes Received:
    24
    Location:
    where the mind is without fear...
    No matter which way you do it, bringing a character back to life is going to be outlandish, I mean, aren't all futuristic sci-fi a bit outlandish? So, don't worry about it, the only thing that matters is how convincingly you write them. But my main issue is that I don't see any significant reasons (plot wise) for bringing the character back to life. May be you are thinking in the lines of something like a twist, well, I have to warn you that it has all the hallmarks of becoming a cheap trick (read: failed plot twist). The readers might get disappointed and it has the potential of pulling your entire work down the drain. My advice: if you want her alive at the end let her save the world and everybody lives happily ever after, or, if you want her dead, let her save the world and in a twist of fate, she gets killed. I actually prefer the second option.
     
  4. jazzabel
    Offline

    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2012
    Messages:
    4,273
    Likes Received:
    1,666
    If your character dies just to give oomph to the story ending, then it might be better to re-write that ending. Dying is an easy way out in creating tension and emotion, you need to ask yourself, is it really necessary for her to die?
    If not, then don't do it. Also, unless it is a supernatural book, do not introduce something like that just to have her resurrected, it will come across as weird, not in a good way. You have to stick to the rules of your Universe.
    Having said all this, there are many, many ways in which someone can resurrect from an apparent death, even today, but you need to research it and come up with your own solutions.
     
  5. The Magnan
    Offline

    The Magnan Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2012
    Messages:
    439
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    Probably Earth
    It is possible that if you wish for this character to return, then you could have as a subplot in a later story, although it depends on the type of character. Since your people in the story seem to be technologically advanced, you could bring her back through cyrogenics (I might be wrong). There are loads of examples in novels and in games where a character brought back from the dead. Shepard in mass effect 2, at the very start is killed and then is literally reassembled. Depending on how advanced the people are, any possible bringing back to life would need to be -bionic or cloning - but those are just possiblities, characters in Hamilton's void series have ways of being brought back from the dead, you may find inspiration there.

    Personally depending on the character, any kind of resurrection would need a good explanation, it needs significance, if it were me, such a thing would be saved for a sequel perhaps, because it's unexpected. Of course it's about the audience but its also what the writer wants. Some people are bound to disagree but go with your heart. Experiment.
     
  6. Link the Writer
    Offline

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Messages:
    11,216
    Likes Received:
    4,226
    Location:
    Alabama, USA
    In your story, I think it's better if she stays dead. Maybe they try their hardest to save her, but it isn't enough.

    She dies, and is remembered as a heroine who saved the country/world.
     
  7. AmyHolt
    Offline

    AmyHolt Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2011
    Messages:
    475
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    Warsaw, IN
    I agree.

    Of course I also really dislike it when the character I've been cheering for dies. Since I like to put myself in the MC's place it feels like I'm dying. So maybe that sounds melodramatic but I really get into my books.
     
  8. Ultermarto
    Offline

    Ultermarto Member

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2012
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    I think you might want such a huge plot point to be well-structured into the story. If you're trying to make this decision, but want to keep the rest of the story the same, then I don't suspect much luck. More importantly, you should ask yourself what kind of weight your character dying/not dying will have. Death of the main character can be very moving, especially if it is completely unexpected. It reminds the reader of the fragility of life, the costs of our follies. However, keeping a character alive does indeed create a 'happy ending'. Happiness and tragedy are two very different elements, of course, equally useful and equally fundamental.

    I'm not the best person to ask about this, but maybe you need to ask yourself if the character has served their role?
     
  9. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Is it necessary for your MC to die? And what purpose would bringing her back serve?

    CS Lewis pulled it off when Aslan died and then came back to life - but his ressurection was a victorious point, and also it was an illustration of Christianity with Christ on the cross and His ressurection. As such, there was certainly a reason why Aslan died and rose again, symbolically.

    I'm doing the same thing CS Lewis did - my MC will die, and then rise again, but again this is because it's an analogy to Christ's death and ressurection. So for me, the rising of the dead is actually essential. I'm basing mine on a logic on which the novel hangs, which is that only one master can own your soul. So since the keepers of death cannot keep my MC's soul, he naturally must rise again. It needs to be fleshed out, but I'm on my first draft so I have plenty of work to do - but this is an integral part of my novel's theme and plot. Mine is a fantasy novel, however, where the whole thing is tied tightly with the Underworld and ideas of death and life and self-worth.

    Whereas yours - is it an essential part of your novel's message and story? And if so, is it well incorporated?

    Given that you're writing in a normal setting with normal people, I don't see how bringing your MC back to life could be a good thing. I think the tragedy of her death and the inability of technology to do anything about it would be a striking point and would make it deeper, with the fragility of life and all that.
     
  10. Link the Writer
    Offline

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Messages:
    11,216
    Likes Received:
    4,226
    Location:
    Alabama, USA
    Some things you need to consider:

    a- What is the theme about? If it's about, say, technology surpassing nature, then her death could be a blunt, harsh reminder that, um, no, Lord Death will come and collect, fancy toys or not.

    b- What would your MC get out of dying? Naturally, she'd have to be dying in some grand, epic way, so what would she be getting out of this?

    Just some quick stuff to note. Sorry if it's too short. Gotta run to class.
     
  11. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Treat death capriciously, and you will cheapen the story.

    Consider Star Trek. It's a running joke that you aren't a major character in the original series unless you've come back to life at least once. And Stargate SG-1: "Dr. Jackson's dead again? For how long?"

    Death should be traumatic, and final. Any exception should be an extremely significant event - Gandalf must die in order to transcend what he was, and truly become a match for Sauron.
     
  12. Tashanel
    Offline

    Tashanel Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2012
    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Surabaya, Indonesia
    If you bring someone back to life at the ending, (like cogito say) cheapen the story. so she should die. Don't add more from it. I'm pretty sure, story after she back to life will be uninteresting. Just an opinion.

    People must know when pull the triger of event. You can't take it back and what will make it worse is pull another trigger. It's cruelest way to treat your story :(
     
  13. The Tourist
    Offline

    The Tourist Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,089
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Wisconsin.
    If you find a believable way, let me know. I had to kill off the hero of my novel in the first chapter, and let me tell you, the second chapter was not easy to write...
     
  14. jackthehunter
    Offline

    jackthehunter New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2012
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    have you thought about the Reincarnation, you let your character die and then after a few years, other characters will realize that the protagonist has reincarnated and he is still among them. ..
     
  15. jackthehunter
    Offline

    jackthehunter New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2012
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    if you can make your story in such a way that reader will mull over the thought that what if she/he still lives . then I guess it's better to let ur main character get killed.
     
  16. killbill
    Offline

    killbill Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2012
    Messages:
    559
    Likes Received:
    24
    Location:
    where the mind is without fear...
    ^^ reincarnation and sci-fi, hmmm
     
  17. The Tourist
    Offline

    The Tourist Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,089
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Wisconsin.
    The problem I faced was that the lead character's death was central to the plot.

    The novel has spiritual overtones. The 'hero' (and I hate that concept because he's just a flawed, supposedly regular guy) has to make a choice which is delaying plans not of his own choosing. He's taken to Purgatory. The meat of the story is the months that he spent "on the other side." The conclusion of the story necessitates he comes back, and that's pivotal.

    Let me tell you that I did find an answer. And let me also warn you that it does not provide a happy ending.

    (He really dies. He really goes to Purgatory. He really spends time there. He really comes back. No special privileges. No magic machines. Not even a violation of traditional existing religious understanding.)

    I suppose that if your story is fantasy or science fiction a "portal" might make perfect sense. My story is about real people, on earth, in the present time where no aliens or time machines exist in daily life. But then, we're writers. It's our job to tell a story without relying on old episodes of The Twightlight Zone or Star Wars.
     
  18. CrimsonReaper
    Offline

    CrimsonReaper Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2009
    Messages:
    112
    Likes Received:
    8
    What is the cost? For scifi you can pull out the "equal and opposite reaction" rule that science loves. So you brought someone back to life. Good. Sadly that means some random smuck elsewhere had the life sucked out of him and dropped dead while giving a speech at his daughter's wedding. Good job hero. Enjoy YOUR life. Or better yet, bringing back one hero killled HUNDREDS of random strangers around the world. He damn well better be the ONLY ONE who can defeat the dark lord of ultimate evilness. Otherwise those families are going to be pissed. For added EMOtional content have the hero plagued by the memories/dreams of all those people that died to bring him back.

    And did his friends know the cost whent they brought him back....drama ensues....
     
  19. Mobhit
    Offline

    Mobhit Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2009
    Messages:
    120
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    PA
    That's fairly easy, if your character falls off a cliff, Does he hit the bottom or grab something?? Don't show his/her death. Make your other characters believe he/she is dead and in doing so and if done right the reader will believe they are dead. In the last moment of despair Your dead person triumphantly shows up and saves the day. Plus in doing that, you may very well have a whole other story based on that simple scenario, the story of "What the hell happened when you fell off that cliff?" and go on from that.

    I've killed a character that way, or did I?

    Mobhit
     
  20. Pyraeus
    Offline

    Pyraeus Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2012
    Messages:
    84
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    In the Mass Effect series Shepard dies and is brought back to life by Cerberus using advanced technology. If you have your character brought back to life, add a few quirks, like having scars becuase of it, scrambled or missing memories (Best if the injury was to their head) In the end, it really depends on how well you write it. If your characters "resurrection" isn't properly explained, it will seem like a cheap and easy way for you to set up future books about them. Have them die, and if you write another story, set it a good while later. If you want, you can either keep the efforts to bring them back to life a secret, or as one of the driving points of the plot.

    But whatever you do, DON'T let it become a habit with your characters. I have had such troubles in the past about letting go of characters I like.
     
  21. Just Jon
    Offline

    Just Jon Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2012
    Messages:
    66
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Slightly left of center
    What about cloning? Maybe they save some cells from the body and clone your MC and bring back someone who looks just like him, but his personality is different (super fast regeneration cloning = advanced technology). Everyone treats him like the MC and he struggles to create his own sense of self and not what people expect. You could even add some method of implanting memories or just simply information into his brain to give him only some of the personality traits of the MC. If he had half the memories he could spend time struggling to forget or suppress thoughts he has about things that never happened to him. Maybe the technology is advanced enough to implant just memories of feelings, so when he comes across someone your MC knew (ex-lover?) he has this feeling of love/sadness/fear/hate and can't explain why. Or maybe they can clone him but he has to be born again through a surrogate mother, and they get his widow to agree to be the surrogate. After he's born, they take him away to a secret government lab and speed up his growth so he comes out as the MC again but no memories of the other self. Then his widow sees him and struggles with the fact that he looks like her dead husband, but is not him (not to mention the fact that she just gave birth to him!).
     
  22. Dan Kirkalnd
    Offline

    Dan Kirkalnd Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2012
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    0
    If I have to come up with a creative way to bring a character back to life, I wouldn't kill him/her in the first place. Death is a big blow to a story, I wouldn't kill off anyone without good reason.
     
  23. superpsycho
    Offline

    superpsycho Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2012
    Messages:
    638
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    You're not writing a TV series with an end of season got ya. I've seen this with beginning writers and find it very annoying. I want to be satisfied with the read, not played with. If you want to begin the next book with the character standing where he was, then getting shot with every buddy running to them in shock only to find out a few pages in the hero was wearing a bullet proof vest. Go for it, because that might hook me in if I read that first page while browsing in a book store.
     
  24. RowenaFW
    Offline

    RowenaFW Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2012
    Messages:
    68
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Birmingham
    Okay, here are my thoughts.

    1. You kill teh character. She dies and stays dead. Powerful emotive ending.

    2. You don't kill her. Instead, in place you supplement some majo raccident which takes something away from the character - e.g. she is rendered blind (think Jane Eyre). This will be especially powerful if you can tie in what has been lost to how she saved the world, e.g. loss of a trigger finger.

    3. Near-death experience. You don't have to write about religion to do this. The character is taken down - her heart beat stops - everybody panics - a few minutes pass - they accept she's dead - she opens her eyes. This will only work if you can find a resolution in her version of the experience. For example, if the plot is driven by the character's revenge for the murder of her mother, at this point she reports an "afterlife" like experience where she speaks to her mother briefly, and when she reawakens as it were, she feels that her work is done and that she has finally paid off the debt. This kind of plot rounds off her feelings about the conclusion of events in the novel.

    4. Use superior technology to bring her back by foreshadowing continuously throughout the novel, especially from early on, so that the readers know about the possibility of the trick you pull, and are almostr expecting in. When the resurrection happens, the reader needs to feel that you have tied together loose endings, completed their understanding of the world and explained unexplained elements of the story. If yuou can't do this, DO NOT use superior technology to bring her back, or it will be a cop out and disgust your readers. It would be especially effective if, as suggested, she could come back with memory loss, e.g. she no longer recognises a lover or knows her own name: this would be an alternative sinister cliffhanger.
     
  25. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,507
    Likes Received:
    3,151
    Location:
    Northeast England
    You would kill 'teh' character, would you?

    To the OP: Why can't you have this character stage their own death?
     

Share This Page