1. Xylie
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    Xylie New Member

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    Is It a Bad Thing When You Grow So Attached to a Character That...?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Xylie, Sep 17, 2010.

    You're almost reluctant to kill them off?

    I knowingly started a story where I fully intended to kill off four on screen characters (hey, it's a horror story. What do you expect?). And as I got further and further into the story, I got more and more attached to my characters... and now I'm just trying to avoid the parts where I have to kill them. I know I'll have to do it sometime but it's just so difficult to bring myself to write their deaths.
    Is that a bad thing?
     
  2. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I have on occasion felt remorse when writing a passage wherein a major character died. I usually write the passage and then walk away for a while.
     
  3. k.little90
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    k.little90 Active Member

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    I don't think so.

    Lots of great writers have had this problem. J.K. Rowling cried when she killed off some of her main characters.

    I think it's a good thing that you've made a character so believable and loveable that you feel a lose when they no longer walk the pages of your stories.

    You may have to learn how to cope with it if you continue writing horror, though, or you won't end up with very good stories. I'd imagine all the characters living through the rampage of a crazy ax murderer wouldn't be very hot press ;)
     
  4. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    If it helps, remember that these characters of yours are the ones who killed your puppy, so HATE THEM!

    (It's easier to kill off your characters if, just for a little bit, you think they killed your puppy.)
     
  5. Tessie
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    Tessie Contributing Member Contributor

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    No, not at all.

    It just means you're human and killing off a character bothers you. It's not an easy thing to do anyway. One of my characters has almost died in battle countless times over. I've finally decided to disregard my initial plotline and keep him alive.
     
  6. Tristan Cody
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    Tristan Cody Member

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    It is never bad to feel attached to one of your characters. I mean they are practically your child.
     
  7. TobiasJames
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    TobiasJames Contributing Member

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    I must be a cold and ruthless writer then lol, because characters in my stories never last beyond their useful contribution to the story. They don't all end up dying - most of them simply move on or are never mentioned again - but a soon as I feel that their continued presence would not add anything else to the story, they are axed.
     
  8. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think it is a bad to grow fond of your characters.
    As to killing them off; if you have no intention of using them in a follow-up story and if their deaths are an integral part of the plot then I'm afraid you'll have to bump them off.
     
  9. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Maybe you will find a way to keep them alive - I know when I feel that way it is usually easier not to kill them, and often makes a better story idea or angle when I find ways to keep them alive.

    Having said that my short YA novel has several deaths, including two major characters.
     
  10. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    Just realized I have never killed off a character in my stories hmmmm wonder how I'll react.
     
  11. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    You know what they say... Kill your darlings.
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    That has more to do with retaining favorite passages that you like too much to get rid of, even though they do nothing for the story.

    Typically, you'll cling to scenes that fall together beautifully, or have brilliant dialogue, etc., but you realize, if you allow yourself to admit it, are irrelevant and a distraction from the story.

    That is what is meant by "kill your darlings."

    Still, there is some relevance to clinging to characters you've grown attached to.

    Every character exists for the sake of the story. If that character's function is to die to advance a plot, then you do the character a disservice by not allowing him or her to fulfill that purpose.

    The story is everything.
     
  13. SashaMerideth
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    SashaMerideth Contributing Member

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    What Cogito said, I just killed one of my favorite characters in my first draft. She had to die to move the story along, and give a reason for other stuff to happen. It made me sad, but she had to go.
     
  14. I'm the doctor.
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    I'm the doctor. New Member

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    I write zombie fiction, so nearly every character I create dies. If you have anyone in your life you want to do horrible, blood-splattered things to, extract some qualities from them and attach them to that character. I base a lot of my "red shirts" on people who have wronged me in some way. Makes watching them die a lot easier (and more fun than is probably healthy o__O).
     
  15. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    That's a matter of opinion. In my world, an interesting character is of vital importance. A lackluster story can still shine with a good cast. But if a story has characters I can't get behind, then I just don't bother reading it, no matter how good the story is. So, in my opinion, a good tale needs only good characters while the story is of secondary importance, but a great tale needs both.

    That said, I still don't mind killing off my favorites. If the time has come, then it's come. I try to make my stories as believable as possible, even though they're not very realistic. So if, say, a skyscraper collapses while my favorite character is on the top floor, then she will die, unless there's a good explanation for her survival. I'll just do my best to make sure she has the best death I can possibly give her.
     
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  16. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I remember long ago I wrote a prolouge (a very cliched one at that) where the hero's parents fought to save their baby from two half-demons that attacked them during a picnic outing, but they died horribly while the aunt ran frantically into the woods with the baby in her arms. She died just minutes after putting him in a basket and floating him down a river.

    After realizing the brutal carnage I unleashed with my little 14-year-old fingers, I closed the document, went to my room and laid on my bed for the rest of the day just staring at the ceiling. I mean, that was a family I just killed off! They had names! Hopes! Dreams! And I siced two half-demons on them for what reason?

    So no, its not a bad thing to grow attached to the characters. :) It means you love them.
     
  17. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    We don't really disagree here. I think you are mistaking my meaning.

    Yes, strong, interesting characteriztion is important. But only because those characters brighten the story. A superb character without a story is wasted. So is that same character if he yanks the legs out from under the story by slipping out from under every disaster that would advance the plot.

    The characters exist to drive the story. For a character to be effective, you cannot coddle him or her. Characters don't really exist. By protecting them, you ruin the character and the story.
     
  18. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I agree.

    If you constantly make every effort to protect your character by making sure he never gets into harms way, then you may as well have him be putting chains on the story.

    Sometimes, you have to put your characters in harms way. Once I wrote a scene where one of my characters (a beloved character at that) wounded up dying of a gunshot wound because he wanted to be all "hollywood" and jump. He died and things just got worse from there for everyone else.
     
  19. Zombie_Chinchilla
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    Zombie_Chinchilla Member

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    I think it shows that, since you're so attached to your characters, so will your readers. You've succeeded in making them believable.
     
  20. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    No, this is what I take issue with. I just wasn't very clear about specifying that. God only knows why, but it irritates me whenever someone says the characters are nothing more than tools. I don't make my characters by the needs of the story. I make my stories to give the characters something to do, because you're right, no one wants to read about a great character sitting around at home watching TV. Naturally, I want them doing something interesting, so I do my best to make sure the story is up to scratch as well. But only because I don't want to shame my little imaginary friends by leaving them pitiful tasks to carry out.

    To put it simply, I'm a very character-driven kind of guy who puts a majority share of thought into the people, because they're what I'm interested in. Once I have them fleshed out, the rest of the story comes naturally to me, because I know what sort of things they would get up to... I'm not sure if this qualifies as off topic, so I'll stop now just to be safe. :)
     
  21. Peerie Pict
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    Peerie Pict Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you were so attached to your character that you couldn't have horrible things happen to them then yes, it is a bad thing.

    People we love in life die. In fiction it should be no different.
     
  22. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You can't separate character from story. The story is what the character does. That's why you can't extract a character from a story. The reader spots it right away when you try to force the wrong character into taking the lead role in a story. George Costanza from Seinfeld would not create and use the metal suit Tony Stark wears in Iron Man. Tony Stark does, and that's why Iron Man is Tony Stark's story, not George's.

    Saying that the characters exist to drive the story isn't really correct. It implies that you can separate the two.
     
  23. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Again, my point is that the characters DO NOT have an existence or purpose separate from the story. NOWHERE have I implied that the character is more, or less, important than story.

    Therefore, any attempt to favor or protect them is harming the story.

    How in the world do you read from that that I am implying they can be separated, other than in the sense that characters are an identifiable element of storytelling?

    Quite the opposite. Please stop disagreeing only to say exactly the same thing!
     
  24. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You wrote:
    "Yes, strong, interesting characteriztion is important. But only because those characters brighten the story. "

    I read that to mean that the story would be dull without the characters, which implies that the story exists without the characters. Your statement that strong characterization is important "only because those characters brighten the story" makes it seem like you regard the characters as decorations on a Christmas tree.

    Characters do an awful lot more than simply "brighten" the story. They are the story. Or, as I said before, the story is what the characters do.

    My post was intended to clarify that point.
     
  25. Anders Backlund
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    Anders Backlund Contributing Member

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    As I see it, killing good characters for no reason is a waste. If I do kill off one of my characters, it's usually because they were meant to die all along. Part of the design, so to speak. That way, I can't say have a lot of problems killing them off.
     

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