Tags:
  1. Vaalthurion
    Offline

    Vaalthurion Member

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2010
    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Alabama

    Killed to Quickly?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Vaalthurion, Sep 1, 2011.

    The supporting characters in the beginning of my book are not required to progress the storyline past the first initial chapters. However, for those initial chapters I have essentially presented round, generally likable individuals, who each have unique personalities and interact well with the MC.

    Then, I have a chapter that's dedicated almost entirely to killing them off one by one in rather inglorious ways. My intent was to attain the 'shock factor' of having these developed characters dying at an unpredictable point in the book. However, in so doing, I'm afraid this will actually backfire and turn off the reader who may have been interested in one or more of the characters that have been killed off so early on.

    Wether they die or not, they will not be involved in the storyline after a certain (violent) point. Perhaps killing them isn't the way to go. But, at the risk of sounding like a sadist, having them die does add excitement.

    I'm open to any opinions, advice, or tips you may have on the matter. Thanks!
     
  2. cruciFICTION
    Offline

    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 18, 2011
    Messages:
    1,236
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    Will you suffer because of those deaths? Interpret that in any way you wish. If the basic answer is, "No," then continue killing them off. Readers will read. It's what they do. It's not your job to worry about whether they stop reading. It's your job to provide them with the material to read in the first place.
     
  3. Naiyn
    Offline

    Naiyn Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2010
    Messages:
    227
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Nebraska
    Whether it works or not depends upon now you write it. And in this case especially; how does your MC respond to those violent deaths? Make that an interesting enough element to make the reader want to find out just how they dealt with it, and your story should work just fine.
     
  4. seelifein69
    Offline

    seelifein69 Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2011
    Messages:
    204
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    SW Florida
    To me it all matters about how you do it. But if I had to read about 4 or 5 characters that I just spent the last chapters reading about, and they all die in the same chapter, I would probably set the book down for a while. Unless they are really useless to the story and the only reason for killing them is for the violence and like you said shock factor. If that is the case, maybe don't span their stories out to look like an important character in the book. (e.x. like in a movie, do you really need to know the life story of an extra whose main purpose is to shock the audience with a gruesome early death scene?)

    I would maybe spend more energy on something or someone that is continuous throughout most of the book. Everyone needs someone to love! And for the me as a reader, most of the time, it's a theme or character that evolves or changes through the story. Good luck!
     
  5. CH878
    Offline

    CH878 Active Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2011
    Messages:
    252
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    England
    I wouldn't worry about killing them, but I'm not sure about the 'not involved with the story-line' bit. Why would you go to the trouble of developing characters that have no impact on the story after a short time? I may have misunderstood what you mean and the characters do come up throughout the story, even when they're not alive, but good stories are not just built upon shock. My advice would be to make their deaths important to the story, as just because a character is dead does not mean we loose interest in them. It's the same as with anything, don't have something happening just for the sake of it, otherwise there's no point.
     
  6. TWErvin2
    Offline

    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2006
    Messages:
    2,529
    Likes Received:
    561
    Location:
    Ohio, USA
    I am not sure killing them off violently for 'shock value' is the way to go. The death of a character should have a purpose--it should advance the plot or move the story forward and in the direction necessary to properly tell it.

    Of course with some genres, especially some sub-genres of horror, a high body count and violent deaths are part of what readers expect.

    In my first novel (and in my second novel to that should be released this Fall) There are a number of deaths. A character dies in the second chapter of my first novel, and throughout the novel(s) characters that are well developed do die. Of course, a major war is part of the plot and conflict within the story, so death is reasonable and it would actually be odd if everyone came through unscathed.

    In the end, you'll have to decide what's right for the story and your style, and what will work best for your audience, since there isn't a 'right' answer as the concern is presented.
     
  7. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    No one's gonna thank you for "shock factors" if you're killing off characters the readers like, and for no reason too. Remember, every character you kill, you're putting your reader through an emotional roller coaster. Now that roller coaster has to have a purpose, a meaning - some reason why they're all upset over it and yet still think it was worth it.

    However, if you just went and made me cry over your character "just because" and don't treat a character I've bonded with with respect, I'm gonna hate your book and never read your stuff again. That's just me though. You risk disappointing your characters - and no reader ever forgets disappointment. Even if the ENTIRE novel was excellent and it wins the next Nobel Prize and is better than Shakespeare and you disappoint the reader at some point - the reader won't remember how great everything else was. The reader will remember that one moment when you let them down and then say "I'll never pick it up again."

    I've done that to a few authors and a film personally. One book killed off my favourite character and I never read his stuff again. Not that I hold a grudge, but I didn't want to read his series anymore after that. So I moved onto other authors and then promptly forgot about him altogether.

    And characters deserve respect - these are people your readers will bond with, come to relate to and know and love. Just as you can't go around killing people in real life, you can't kill people off just because in a story either because there's a personal association the readers will make with every well-written character. And if you don't treat people's friends with respect in real life, those people get angry with you and dislike you. The same with characters.

    For example, the key thing I remember from the new film Robin Hood (with Russell Crowe) was how the director disrespected Lady Marion in the ending of the film. She was a lovely character whom I liked a lot, and I detested the way she was presented at the end. She wasn't given what she deserved for the role she had in the story.

    So if you're gonna kill people off, you gotta at least give them a deserving death - one they are worthy of and that dignifies them or moves something forward in some way. Otherwise you're asking for trouble.
     
  8. topeka sal
    Offline

    topeka sal Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2011
    Messages:
    135
    Likes Received:
    6
    Think about Hitchcock's Psycho. The first part of the film is basically from Janet Leigh's POV. We follow her, we see her problems, we become intersted/invested in her welfare and then: shower scene. No more main/POV character. But the story does continue. And successfully so.
     
  9. skeloboy_97
    Offline

    skeloboy_97 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2010
    Messages:
    181
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Australia
    Write a few chapter both ways, or multiple, and see how it goes.
     
  10. TerraIncognita
    Offline

    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

    Joined:
    May 28, 2010
    Messages:
    1,339
    Likes Received:
    40
    Location:
    Texas
    It's your story! Don't worry about writing it for a specific group. Not everyone will all like the same thing. There's plenty of people who hate classic novels but they're still classics.

    Just like everyone you meet in life won't like you not everyone will like what you write so write what you want.
     
  11. Jupie
    Offline

    Jupie New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2011
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    1
    Killing characters is always effective when you like them, or if they have some influence in the story, but like everyone has said here it is better to kill with some purpose, not just to shock. You could perhaps have one 'shock' death and then kill the others off at a later point - or they could all be killed off in the same way, through some kind of explosion or something, which is the trigger to the rest of the plot. It's going to mess up the MC pretty badly to hear about their deaths so I assume it's essential to the story. You could always bring them back through the MC's memories and flashbacks, plus references to them, so that you haven't had to entirely get rid of some well developed characters. Just make sure that you still have a strong cast after they're gone - else it will feel like a stab in the dark for the reader.
     

Share This Page