1. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    How do you Justify killing off Characters

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Cacian, Jan 20, 2012.

    The reason I ask is because killing is an act of its own.
    Creating is another.
    For me to create something is to look after it.

    My points are the following:

    what does killing a character in a story entail?
    and
    1) would you agree that one of the reasons one might want to write is because they get to kill their characters?
    Just like a power trip one writes because one knows one can get rid off their characters?

    or
    2) I write because I know I get to keep my characters hence the importance of writing

    and last but not least

    3) if you had to reverse the act of ''killing a character in a story'' into a reality act will you be able to do the same?
     
  2. The Magnan
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    The Magnan Active Member

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    Writing Cacian is about allowing possibility, plus it depends on a genre.

    Fantasy: Character's may die but a quick ritual and they come back as immortals like in Stephen's Erikson's fantasy novel series. Or fate may itself intervene
    Sci-Fi: In science Fiction technology may extend human life, or allow them to achieve a post physical status, like in The Void Trilogy, a character can die or go into suspension they mind can be placed into a new body.

    1) In my case i don't see killing off characters as a power trip, i see it how it impacts and applies to the story. I'm not a big fan of happy endings, they don't reflect how reality may sometimes pan out. Death is also a natural cause of life. It's inevitable. Some just die earlier then others, plus if a character's an assassin or soldier then their chances of dying have significantly increased. I wouldn't advise a writer to write solely because they enjoy killing off characters extensively.

    2) I don't believe keeping all my characters is important, otherwise it would hinder the story's progress. I only kill them if I believe they have too, any characters I keep are important to the story, regardless of their role. A small insignificant character can make a big difference, given the opportunity. Even so that doesn't mean I give my characters an easy ride. It's not about getting to the solution but how you solve the problem, what sacrifices they make or pressures their under. What about what's happening around them.

    3) I'm not entirely sure what you mean, are you referring to bringing people back to life in reality, if so then cyrostasis is a possibility. Again not entirely sure what you mean.

    I may be wrong in this, but it's just my opinion
     
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  3. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    in real life people die and so there ie equally one born everyminute so we are in fact replicating 'the comingback process' and in terms of immortality that would be awarded to life being immortal rather then a human we both know ar enot immortal on earth hence death.
    well that is not a possiblity in realistic terms and will have to stay in a book.
    Going to suspension is not realistic because placing onemind into another body requires two dead bodies.
    gaining one by losing two is not going very far. The concept of 2 against one does fair out.

    I agree and because the word natural isn't killing precipitating death?

    that is something no one can control people are known to have different motives in life and that is one very good possibilitie not to be laughed out.

    sorry my fault..what I meant is the act of killing characters in stories is taken as part of the writer's way of expression something many do as part of the plot.
    I was asking wether the same could be easily done if we were to act it out in real life.(the killing act)
    The answer anyone would say is not and so why do it in writing if you cannot do it in reality.
    It was just a point I was trying to raise.
     
  4. prettyprettyprettygood
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    prettyprettyprettygood Active Member

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    If you're genuinely interested in this subject, you might like a film called Stranger than Fiction, which is about a man who finds out that he is a character in a book by an author who always kills off her characters.
     
  5. The Magnan
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    The Magnan Active Member

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    So all questions were referencing the reality, i apologize for my poor choice of examples
     
  6. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    what do you mean?
    No they were not all referencing to reality only the last one.
    Your examples were perfect and taught me stuff I did not know.
     
  7. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    weeeeeeeeeeee....that is chilling indeed.
    I am not sure I think I have heard of it because it rings a bell..must check it out. Thanks Pretty:)
     
  8. Felipe
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    Felipe Active Member

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    In a series such as mine, time passes and also if they are involved in a high risk activity such as war or piracy it is unreasonable to not have a few characters, even well liked ones die. Especially if they are getting old. One of my favorite characters knew he was getting too old to fight, but chose to die on his feet, not sitting in a rocking chair staring out to sea with only his memories.
     
  9. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I justify it cause it's what the story requires.
     
  10. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    interesting.
    favourite for me means he or she gets the best treatment in a story.
    This is not how I delve into summurising my favourite ones.

    @Show
    what about those characters who do not die in your stories ?are they also justified in the same way?
     
  11. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Active Member

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    I haven't written much other than little ditties for my children, and those characters stay alive. However, my recent endeavor necessitates killing of one on my mains. In the time and society that it is set in, what she has done will be mandated by law. When I originally set the thoughts in motion, I didn't realize this would be the end result. I came to realize it later as I researched the history around the characters. And yet, without her actions, there is no story, so her death will happen. I just have not quite figured out how this will affect the other characters. One in particular, and it will bring emotional tourmoil, but must be done. :/
     
  12. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    I'm perfectly willing to kill off characters if that's what the story requires. I haven't yet got to any major character deaths but I've got some planned and I'm determined not to back out. Stories are made to get an emotional reaction from the reader and death achieves that. But I don't think that you should just kill for shock value, there needs to be a narrative purpose as well even if it's simply something as simple as not being able to use that characters abilities to solve a problem. And I don't think authors should give characters special treatment. If it makes sense for a character to die, don't think of some contrived reason for them to live because you like them. As for resurrection I think it can be done well, but generally I avoid it.
     
  13. CH878
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    CH878 Active Member

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    Would you say you would sacrifice a good story to keep your favourite character alive then?

    For me, I just tend to know when a character needs to die, it feels right. I'm not sure why a lot of authors seem to try and protect their characters, when I read, I'm constantly frustrated when the main character survives ever more improbably ordeals. "Just kill them!" I'm screaming, "Make it something deep and emotional, not this predictable rubbish!"
     
  14. tcol4417
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    Either I'm tired as hell or the grammar of the original question is off. Or both.

    Characters are not immune to death, that is to say that it's naive to think that a writer could never justify killing a character. At the same time, doing so just because it's fun for the writer is self-indulgent which is fine if they're writing for themselves but self-destructive if they're trying to entertain an audience.

    A character dies when circumstances coupled with their capabilities and values demand it.

    Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
    Kamina dies because without removing him from the narrative, Simon would have been unable to develop his own sense of self-worth and save the universe. His death while performing a final act of salvation cemented the concept of a man's strength of will overcoming insurmountable odds for the sake of the future, even if only for a moment. His momentary revival to oust his doppelganger is powerfully symbolic of mustering the free will needed to break through the barrier of oppression and excel beyond the illusion of a second-rate contentedness.

    His Dark Materials
    The survival of Stanislaus Grumman would have created too much tension between him and his estranged son, Will Parry, detracting from the greater and more urgent narrative of the End of Days. His death at the hands of a jilted lover cemented the concept of witches as a proud and traditional establishment and introduced the strangeness of love to Will, a topic which would surface in the future.

    Game of Thrones
    Eddard Stark needed to exemplify the folly of a naive and inquisitive character, the corruption of the ruling powers, the wayward nature of the boy king and his death removed one of the pillars of solidarity that existed for several characters. His death created a significant amount of tension for characters whose survival depended on him and instigated the greater narrative's hostilities.

    Otherland
    Orlando's physical condition made a happy ending in the real world impossible by any reasonable means. His sacrifice to save the lives of his companions exemplified his nature and, given the mechanics of the universe, allowed him to be "played" at a later point during the endgame, much like Kamina in TTGL.

    Every death is caused by a narrative necessity - either a negative that would result from their continued survival or a gain that results from their death. This isn't in reference to the characters, mind you - it refers only to the story itself.

    In summary, a writer should never be afraid to arrange their characters death when the situation demands it and the story benefits as a result. Having said that, carelessly killing off characters does very little good if the circumstances aren't right.
     
  15. Hellchoseme
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    Hellchoseme Member

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    Tell me: if Shakespeare walked into your house, would you ask him to justify why he killed Hamlet?
     
  16. Holo
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    Holo Senior Member

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    It's not necessarily about "justifying" killing your characters. Characters die for many reasons: they serve no more purpose in the story, their death motivates the protagonist into action, their death furthers another character's development, their death ties into the plot somehow, etc. In my story, a character dies for a reason because it establishes something about the world my protagonist lives in, and also serves as a motivator for my character from that point onward. In most books, characters die because it shows that yes, the characters are all in danger of being killed off, and it shows the reader exactly how dire circumstances are.
     
  17. AmsterdamAssassin
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    AmsterdamAssassin Contributing Member

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    I don't need to justify killing characters. My main character is a freelance assassin. Chances are, she's either getting paid to kill them, or they're witnesses and need to be killed to prevent them from endangering her identity. What more justification do you need?
     
  18. Kesteven
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    Yeah, I think a better question is 'How do you justify NOT killing off characters?', because generally they'll be getting into dangerous and exciting situations, and a dangerous situation without the possibility of death is not, in fact, dangerous, and usually not very exciting either.

    I think it's a fact that a lot of writers get attached to their characters, and it can be helpful to some extent but you need to keep it under control. Your characters aren't your friends and they aren't your playthings. I think of them more like spirits that come and go, whom you help by providing a residence in the form of a story. And sometimes that story requires death, which in its own way helps the spirit of the character flourish more than coddling them would.
     
  19. James Berkley
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    James Berkley Banned

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    why not kill the charachters. what i write generly involves soldiers and battlefeilds. people die. thats just the reality of the world.

    now as far as reseraction. we can do some reserection of the dead rigth now.

    adrinial to the heart, yelling clear then shocking them comes to mind.
     
  20. Match
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    Match Member

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    I'm a fan of violating expectations and tropes. I think killing characters can alternatively be used as a tool to give the reader a sense of "wow, these guys can/might actually die".

    If you want to see it really used effectively, play Heavy Rain.
     
  21. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    How could killing characters be a power trip? They're characters. They're fiction. Exerting my will over my own fictional creations is less of a power trip than exerting my will over my own shoes and socks.

    And, no, of course the fact that I can kill a character doesn't mean that I could kill a real person. Are you _seriously_ asking that question? Fiction is fiction. Fiction is not real. Killing characters in fiction is not real killing. Stealing in fiction is not real stealing. Riding in spaceships in fiction does not allow me to hop on a real spaceship. Fiction is not real.

    Cacian, is this part of why you object to reading horror, because you somehow believe that fiction is reality?
     
  22. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    Hi CH878 sorry for the delay.
    To answer your question I don't believe in sacrifice and so I usually write my stories based on that.
    In other words I always start my stories knowing that my characters will stay alive all the way through.
    Part of my style is to bring back my characters under different personalities and characters in other stories.
    I cross my characters in stories all the time and therefore once one is created one is to remain immortal/alive.
    I do not lose my characters to justfiy a story's suspense or fun, I use other tactics/trick.
    I also think that if I am unable to replicate killing in real life then I cannot possibly do that to my characters in writing.
    It might sound silly but remember this is me.:)
     
  23. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    For some it is. You cannot rule it out.
    That is not what I meant.
    I meant that if I, myself, cannot do that in reality then I will not do it in writing.
    all of this actions you have mentioned exist in reality. People do these things all the time.

    No it is not part of it at all.
    I don't like or find horror interesting to read.
    It is like saying I don't camember or beer I prefer chedder and wine.
    It is just a taste.
    The same I do not watch SiFi nor understand.
    If I don't understand something then I am not interested in it.
     
  24. AmsterdamAssassin
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    AmsterdamAssassin Contributing Member

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    It's a good thing I don't have that problem.

    Really? When I don't understand something, my interest in it doubles.
     
  25. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    Pray what tricks do you use, that gives the same emotional impact as a major character death? Meaning no offense but your fiction sounds kind of boring. I mean if there's no possibility of the characters dying then where's the suspense? If I know that they're going to win I might as well just skip to the end.
     

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