1. Tallandboring
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    Tallandboring Member

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    Death scenes?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Tallandboring, Sep 17, 2011.

    I'm working on my novel and I ran into a few speed bumps

    How should a character act after seeing another (minor) character die?
    The relationship to the minor character is small, only knowing them for a day or so.

    How should a character react as to seeing a (major) character die?
    The two characters are really close, and hanve been together throughout the whole book.

    Killed might be a better word to use here.
     
  2. Laura Mae.
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    Laura Mae. Member

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    Well it all depends on the character doesn't it. Depending on their personality, they could react in any number of ways. They could cry hysterically, they could keep it cool while others are around and cry about it later, they could have little to no reaction, they could even laugh. It's up to you, how do you think they would react? Obviously there will be more emotions flying around when a major character dies, but the same principle applies. If they character who dies means something, expect another character to react. I don't know your characters so I can't tell you how they will react, it's up to you to look at their personality, their beliefs, their morals, the way they present themselves to others - then decide how they would feel.
     
  3. Tallandboring
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    Tallandboring Member

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    Good point, I didn't take that into account before posting the thread.

    Thanks though, that stills helps!
     
  4. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Laura Mae summed up most of it in her post, but I'd also like to add that you should consider the events that unfold after the deaths. Do you need the main character to be in a certain state of mind? Do you need to trigger an event that in turn triggers the climax, and does that require your MC going in any certain direction after the deaths?
    By the way, I like your avatar, and welcome to the forums.
     
  5. Tallandboring
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    Tallandboring Member

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    Thanks, your pink/purple cat is pretty cool too.
    But for the minor character death, I want my MC to be traumatized, whereas with the major character death, I want my MC to be grieving.
     
  6. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    Sometimes, to remain silent shedding no tears can be a sign of profound grief, than say, hysteria and tears.
     
  7. Kaynic
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    Kaynic Member

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    It all depends on your characters and their personalities. We can't tell you, even if you described your characters, and in fact it might be a very good exercise simply to write out the scenes without a thought as to how you think your characters should react. It will certainly help you as a writer to discover what seems natural for them. One of my own characters is a stoic woman, the lieutenant of a squad, and when one of the main characters dies from massive trauma, her veneer of composure slips and she nearly loses it. However, she knows the rest of the squad needs her, and so pulls herself together and temporarily puts aside her own extreme emotions for the better of everyone.
     
  8. Excise
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    Seems like this totally depends on the character in question. Really, this is a great way to tell the audience what the character is like.

    Is she a heartless bastard who's been jaded by death all his life and thus barely even notices?

    Is he an innocent, kind man who's shocked and horrified at losing someone he knew, even for a moment?

    Other things to consider:

    - Does the other character die /right there/? IE, does your character witness the death?

    - How do they die? If it's a sudden, violent end then it darn well might traumatize some people. If it's natural causes, then generally they'll be able to handle it.

    - The minor/major character part is an interesting point, as some people will be horrified no matter who dies. Think of the old Kirk trope where redshirt deaths are brushed off, but the moment someone he knows dies it's a defining part of his life. You'll have to decide if that applies to your character as well. On one hand, even a minor character presumably has a family, friends, and lived a rich and fulfilling life up until this point. But on the other hand, conservation of detail means it might not be worth it to have your character agonize over a minor death for very long.
     
  9. emmams
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    emmams New Member

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    You could look at how your culture (or your character's culture) views death. Look at a variety news stories about death, from family accounting the death of a loved one or a community reacting to the death of people they didn't know (like when there's a plain crash.) Think about your experiences with death or those of people close to you. Maybe you even want to check out some books about grieving.
     
  10. Morgan
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    Morgan Member

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    If I were writing it, I think I would make the minor character die in such a way that the MC would feel in hindsight that he could have prevented it if he had been paying attention, to bring on the trauma.

    For the other death, to make it 'only' grieving, I would make sure the death was something he had no control over at all and couldn't have seen coming.
     
  11. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    Another thought about reactions to death - what is happening right after the person dies? If others, including the MC, are in immediate danger then their reaction to the death might be delayed until things cool down.
     
  12. James Berkley
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    James Berkley Banned

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    People react in a lot of different ways to death. So it is going to vary by character and by method of death. Generally, the more brutal a death is the more of a reaction people have. Another big thing is the job and experiences of the characters. People that see death a lot generally are a lot less bothered by it and/ or have developed cooping methods. For people like that it is often delayed, You might be perfectly fine when you are trying to keep someone alive, it’s almost dream like, and then fine for the rest of the shift. Then the next morning, you’re a mess. Then each time after that first it gets easier and easier.
     
  13. AJ Winters
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    For the character A with the close friend B - maybe after the death, character A could continue to 'still see' character B; you know, like if the story's written from character A's POV, perhaps they could see character B subconsciously until they finally realize that they were just imagining character B surviving in their own mind.

    Got the idea from La Vien Rose - in it, the main character gets up, makes coffee for her lover (we physically see him) and talks to him, but when she asks her friends where the present she bought for her lover was, they got all upset and told her that he was dead. She doesn't believe them, but when she goes back to see her lover, he isn't there. Does that make sense? :p
     
  14. ScreamsfromtheCrematory
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    Although I'd like to give a far more specific answer, the problem is that it really depends on the sort of characters who experience the death.

    A minor character dying, even if it was just someone who might as well be "faceless soldier of the hidden empire of evil #4783" could be a horrifyingly traumatic event if, to use a rather cliche example, the character who experiences it is a young heroic-resistance-fighter-still-getting-the-hang-of-fighting-authoritarian-evil. It could be an event that passes incredibly quickly, but within his/her/its (i'unno, maybe our hero is a sentient robot?) mind but it suddenly brings to light a variety of fears, promises to the self, moral views and so on that have built up like heat in a water boiler and with this one event have exploded. They could be stunned, dazed, confused, enshrouded in a sudden (non literal) aura of gloom and pensiveness, brooding over the horror of what they'd done, and besieged by a sense of creeping, consuming, dehumanizing (or de-whatever-race-it-is-izing) neurosis.

    Alternatively, they might just not give too much of the proverbial damn essentially go "Oh well, that's rather unfortunate, but you know, life goes on."

    A major character would probably be like what I described in the above paragraph and probably what you'd expect - doom, gloom, sorrow and such. When someone really close to you goes off to the land of puffy clouds and disembodied booming voices, suddenly, all your rationale for a few moments (or maybe days. Or worse) will likely go utterly bonkers and your real world tasks and obligations are suddenly distant, seemingly meaningless things because something that was a part of your ordered little theatre of being just isn't there. You're telling yourself "It's not real, he/she/it'll be back" but you know that your knowledge that the loved one's dead only fuels this, so perhaps a self-destructive self-replicating cycle of denial and sorrow would fit.
     

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