1. Daemon Wolf
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    Daemon Wolf Active Member

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    Killing off characters? and emotions.

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Daemon Wolf, Oct 8, 2015.

    I was just curious on how you guys felt when you killed characters. After writing a whole hundred pages so far I am starting to love my characters that I know deep down I will inevitably have to kill off.

    At the moment I have a scene that shows more about the characters and I am realizing how awesome they are because one is just yelling about how great it is to be alive and is getting drunk off his ass and another one sits next to him and says:
    “I think you've had enough to drink Andreas.” Zeyna sat next to him, taking the beer out of his hand and chugging the rest of it down.

    So I guess the question is how do you feel about killing off your beloved characters?
     
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  2. Inks
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    Inks Contributing Member

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    120 pages of horror and misery. Messed me up good.
     
  3. Masked Mole
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    Masked Mole Contributing Member

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    Writing a character's death is a completely different experience for me than reading a character's death. I don't feel the same emotion. I felt a weight when I killed a major character once, but the feeling was nothing near reading a tragic death.
     
  4. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    I love death scenes.
    A lot of my characters die. Well, I guess maybe a lot. It feels like a lot to me but more live. So if we are going ratio maybe not a lot. lol.

    How do I feel about death scenes? I feel they need a point. The point doesn't have to be plot needed. Just there needs to feel like there was a reason they had to die. Otherwise the death feels empty to me.

    Take DBZ because I think it is a really good example. Vegeta in the Majin Buu Arch. Now if you aren't familiar. Vegeta is an asshole. Always. He started becoming good but stapped back to evil in fear of thinking that his goodness was making him weak. He dies fighting back the monster.

    Now, technically he didn't need to die plot wise. But dying did so much to his character. Because it was growth. It was in that moment he realized in a sense that he wanted to be good. That he had something more important than himself. Something to die for. Not dying wouldn't have rang the message as loud. To this point. I am still, years later, angry that he was brought back. Because his death was so perfect that undoing it I felt weakened his character.

    Now my own expirence. I while writing in detail have teared up over 3 character deaths. I was really inside the head of the families watching. So it hurt but that was what made it good. The desire to see them do something with the tragedy. In one case. I found myself crying so badly I couldn't see and had to pause my writing. though, as you might relate too. In this case it wasn't her death scene. It was the death scene. It was the day before. because i knew it was coming. And the point of the death scene was the death of a young innocent girl. So seeing the girl so full of life. So eager to prove to the world what she had, when she wasn't ever gonna get that chance. It hurt more than her bullet. Though the funeral scene was tough too.
     
  5. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It makes me feel like I'm their god.

    No, but seriously. I felt kind of sad about killing off a main character I had fun writing, but it was like, someone just had to die, and I knew he had run out of luck at that point, plus, I had a clear vision of how he would die (really quite unceremoniously). With side characters, it's kind of like, yeah, these were fun to write, I put effort into them so they aren't too obvious redshirts, but they gotta go, bye bye.

    Like @Masked Mole , I experience the deaths of my own characters differently than of those I read about. With my characters, I'm prepared for it. When it's someone else's character and especially if I liked them and didn't see it coming, it's usually much more horrible. I was reading this somewhat trashy action novel a while back and the author pitted the good guy against the bad guy on the final, nerve-wrecking pages. I was rooting for the goodie 'cause he had gone through the grinder, lost his lover, his hand, his career, and I sympathized with him 'cause despite everything, he still wanted to do the right thing. And then he fucking died. The baddie lived. Raaaage! Sure, I like the baddie and am looking forward to reading more about his future adventures, but I liked the goodie more, so.. Boo. :(
     
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  6. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    Similar to @Masked Mole I didn't feel that sad. I'd had months to get used to the idea before I did it. But I know if I read the death I wrote, it would be Dobby all over again and I would have to skip that part if I re-read the novel.
     
  7. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Generally, if a character I create is going to die, I know it in advance. It becomes a part of his being. I actually celebrate his death when it happens, because he has fulfilled his destiny. Maybe I've really enjoyed writing him, and regarding him as a hero, but if he does not die, he is not a hero. He hasn't become what he needs to be to make me admire him. I think of a character like the preacher played by Gene Hackman in the original Poseidon Adventure. He sacrifices himself to save a group of disaster survivors, just the way he has to. The sacrifice makes his character work. No sacrifice, no heroism, no memorable character.

    I've written characters like that. They need to die to become great. If they don't die, they're nothing. If they do, they're heroic. I won't deny them their heroism just because I like their personalities and think it's fun writing them. They don't become what they need to be unless they die.

    I guess this is what it's like to be a god. A writer is the god of his characters, and makes them what they need to be. Sometimes they have to die to become what they need to be.
     
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  8. NobodySpecial
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    NobodySpecial Active Member

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    Dammit, you guys are going to make me go do some rewrites. I have 7 bad guys who are going to get killed off. 3 are already off'd, and 3 bystander type characters too. What this question has got me to think on is if knowing I was going to kill them off from the outset did I write them too 2dimensional and flat, that they're going to die anyway so I didn't give them any more significance than cannon fodder. Granted, they're bad guys and you aren't supposed to feel sorry for the bad guys, but they die as victims of revenge killings for something they did in the past.
    Now, going back and looking it over again it kind of feels like driving down the road and seeing a raccoon on the shoulder and saying ' oh, look, dead raccoon'.
     
  9. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    The whole writing process makes me feel like their god. I see all the possible outcomes and nothing is certian until it's committed to paper.

    I didn't start with the intention of killing anyone off in my first book, it just happened. I thought my character was going to be grandfatherly, but he ended up being a tratiorous bastard. It felt good to have his head on a spike.
     
  10. xanadu
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    xanadu Contributing Member Contributor

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    My stories aren't usually high-stakes in terms of threat of death, so the number of characters I've killed off is very low. I usually only kill a character when there's a very particular reason for it, and it's always a noteworthy event. Maybe if I write a story with a more ensemble-cast approach I'd have less of an issue dropping characters like flies, but currently none of my works really call for it.

    As for emotion, since it is a significant event, there's usually a lot of emotion behind it. I don't feel particularly sad, but I definitely appreciate it for what it is. I feel accomplished, since I know it's an important scene and it's one I need to write well, so when I do finish it it's usually a relief and it gives a sense of pride. Like @minstrel said, when I'm going to kill a character I know it far in advance, and that character's role is to eventually die. It really can't be any other way. Sam Wallace is my favorite of my own characters mostly due to his death and what it means to the story. It's that important.

    Though I can't pretend there isn't a part of me that kind of wants to employ the Anyone Can Die or Characters Dropping Like Flies tropes. Maybe someday.
     
  11. Renee J
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    Renee J Contributing Member

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    I kill off a character in the first chapter which is the catalyst for the book. You don't even see him - you just hear about the accident. In not sure if that really counts as killing of a character, though.
     
  12. Acanthophis
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    Acanthophis ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) Contributor

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    Like many others, I know in advance. That doesn't make the scene easier to write, but it prevents you from filling up with emotions because you've dealt with the death over time, before writing it. Reading is the other way around, no preparation, and if the writer doesn't kill characters off 24/7, you probably won't see it coming.

    One thing I've struggled with is final words. When two characters are connected deeply through the plot and one is going to die down the road but right now is the last time they see or talk to each other, is kind of daunting for me. I know many of us would probably like to do or say something meaningful before we die - but reality isn't like that. Often times I struggle with taking that realistic aspect and applying it to my writing. It's hard, for instance, to have your MC say something generic and meaningless to their lover or friend, when you know it's their last encounter. Maybe I just find it difficult because there isn't a lot of time for idle conversation in storytelling. Anyone else experience this issue/problem?
     
  13. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    I haven't written it yet, but I know it's coming. I will have lovers separated when one of them dies and there will be no time for good byes. I've been thinking about this a lot and decided it was better not to have that "meaningful" conversation before hand. The abruptness of death allows the character that lives to experience pain. I'm using that as a window into their relationship and a way to show the reader things I willfully omitted during the rest of the book.
     
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  14. Acanthophis
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    Acanthophis ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) Contributor

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    Never thought about it from the experiencing pain and/or grief, I'll have to remember that!
     
  15. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sorry to say, but tragic character deaths are so yesterday. I think this message really hit home at the end of season 1 of true detective
    when what everyone thought was going to happen, didn't.

    Don't get me wrong. Character deaths are classic. Braveheart, Romeo and Juliet, Of Mice and Men, the Iliad, but I feel like we've reached a point where there are more creative ways to "take care" of your charcter. Maybe it's the times we live in. A rise in ambiguity and lack of faith, that coupled with a growing sense of responsibility for our actions, in terms of our planet, our society, and our own destinies. Killing off an MC just seems too easy.
     
  16. Daemon Wolf
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    Daemon Wolf Active Member

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    My view of it all. Is (in my book) the characters (The MC as well) are fighting for something they believe in and are willing to sacrifice themselves for others. And sometimes that ends up being the case. One dying for others to live.

    Now the way I write is this:

    - General Guideline
    - Start Writing the actual book

    Which means that I don't know who will or will not die unless it is on the "main skeleton" of the story and don't really know where the story is heading because I constantly bend and twist the skeleton quite often even adding to it when needed. But I do know that there will be times when my characters may be killed off in need for others to move forward.

    I've already killed off about 3 2-d characters that were sitting around to fill space but the remaining ones (most) are 3-d and I am really getting to like them. Hence the sadness of knowing I will have to kill off a few.
     
  17. Kallisto
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    Kallisto Active Member

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    I'm pretty good at killing off characters. I do it for the sake of the story. The reality is that I don't see my characters as my children or my friends. I see them as workers that I have hired for a specific purpose. Yeah, some of them are friends and such, but in the end they're there to do something.
     
  18. ToeKneeBlack
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    ToeKneeBlack Contributing Member Contributor

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    Some super hero origins see the hero witness the death of someone close, but mine has her origins before the deaths of two of her family. She goes the whole hog and defeats the villain without knowing her mother and brother have died, only finding this out afterwards.

    There is one other death; a general who defies orders and leads a handful of soldiers who know what's at stake to buy the heroine some time. His life isn't given in vain, as he plays his part in the prevention of hundreds of thousands of deaths.

    As for how I feel about killing these characters off, the mother was the only caring character for the heroine at that point. Her father showed extreme favouritism to her brother, but this changes after the deaths. I felt she didn't deserve to die the way she did, but it was at least painless and peaceful.
    Her brother dies the same way, but was a complete jerk. Being only a child, he had the potential to grow and become more reasonable as an adult. The heroine realises that she wanted him to stop annoying her, rather than to be gone altogether.
    The death of the general was different; he dies the way he wanted to, in a blaze of glory, fighting an enemy well beyond his league. It also got him out of a court martial. The other soldiers are sad to see him go, but I see it as his reward. Death is inevitable, but to give one's life to protect as many more as you can is the most honourable death a general could ask for.
     
  19. Enyo
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    Enyo Member

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    Sad. My characters are very real to me - so much so that I don't feel like I'm controlling anything. I just fill in the spaces that are lacking, but ultimately, they are the ones telling me what to write.
     
  20. Acanthophis
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    Acanthophis ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) Contributor

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    I agree with the statement, to a degree. I think character deaths are fine, but nowadays it seems like they're the only thing the writers rely on. Two of most popular shows, both taken from literature, are Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. I think Game of Thrones suffers from this problem a bit more, but both seem to rely quite heavily on the next character death as the main drive. Whenever I watch them (I should probably stop), I'm always thinking "damn I wonder who is going to die next?"

    In my opinion, if that's what your audience is thinking when reading or watching your material, you're probably not very good at story telling. I don't really like the popularization of death in entertainment, it's overtaking plot and, ironically enough, character development.
     
  21. Shattered Shields
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    Shattered Shields Gratsa!

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    Character deaths? Well, I have them planned. But I've never killed off a- oh, wait, yes I have.

    I always aim to capture the feel of the scene. Grief, sorrow, and general regret. And most of that emotion has to stem from me to make it read right.
     
  22. ToeKneeBlack
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    ToeKneeBlack Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think a character death has more impact if it is unexpected. A hero killing a villain - seen it too many times. A villain giving their life to save a hero - that's something I've only seen twice, and for different reasons.

    Deaths have been done to death, but if you can find a unique way to write them, you can strike gold. If you as a writer feel sad about losing your characters, then your readers may feel the same way.
     
  23. Shattered Shields
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    Shattered Shields Gratsa!

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    Honestly though, if there's violent conflict, people will die. I'm of the opinion that one should never ought to pull strings for their characters. It gets annoying after a while as a reader.
     
  24. Moth
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    Moth Active Member

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    It really depends on who's the POV character for the death scene. When a POV character is dying or about to die, you can't help but empathise with them and put yourselves in their shoes. Fear, sorrow, desperate hope that the ones they care about have avoided the same fate. If the POV is from a different character, it depends on how the POV character feels about the other's death. Respect for a worthy adversary, glee at having killed a troublesome enemy, total inference, shock and pain at losing a friend, anger at having someone you thought would always be there suddenly taken away.

    I try to put myself into the skin of whoever's witnessing the scene and, in doing so, can't help but feel an echo of those same emotions myself.
     
  25. Acanthophis
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    Acanthophis ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) Contributor

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    Ugh, that bothers me so much. War kills people, even important ones. If you have a violent conflict where only the red shirts die, I'm just going to stop reading.
     
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