?

When do you think I should off a character? (Supporting character btw.)

Poll closed Mar 26, 2009.
  1. I think it is alright to off the character in the first chapter.

    7 vote(s)
    26.9%
  2. I think you should wait until atleast the second chapter.

    2 vote(s)
    7.7%
  3. I think you should wait until after the second chapter, to off a character.

    2 vote(s)
    7.7%
  4. I don't think it really matters, off them when you want.

    15 vote(s)
    57.7%
  1. becca
    Offline

    becca New Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2009
    Messages:
    0
    Likes Received:
    26

    Offing a Character

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by becca, Mar 19, 2009.

    I wanted to get some opinions on a story I am working on. I am thinking about offing a character in the first chapter.

    I would like to know if you think it is too soon?

    Or if I should wait 'til atleast the second chapter?
     
  2. SonnehLee
    Offline

    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2008
    Messages:
    6,112
    Likes Received:
    55
    Location:
    Far away from home
    Well, is this character useful in other chapters?
     
  3. Agreen
    Offline

    Agreen Faceless Man Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2009
    Messages:
    2,143
    Likes Received:
    67
    Location:
    Canada
    Without a context I can't say if it would work in your story, but it can work. I'd struggled with the starting of my story until I decided to kill a character off right at the start, it set the tone and I'm happy with how it worked out.
     
  4. silverfrost
    Offline

    silverfrost Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2007
    Messages:
    86
    Likes Received:
    1
    It's too hard to decide without knowing what role the character would play and how his/her death would affect the story and/or other characters.
     
  5. Rei
    Offline

    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2008
    Messages:
    7,869
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    Kingston
    Whenever it seems most fitting is when you should do it.
     
  6. becca
    Offline

    becca New Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2009
    Messages:
    0
    Likes Received:
    26
    Ok! Point taken. The character I am thinking about offing in the first chapter, is a sick father. BUT, the father is a major source of info for the main character. I was going to use a journal, written by the sick father to cill things in later. Either that or keep him alive until the second chapter and then off him after he has told some stuff.

    I am worried that if I keep him alive, he will slow down the story. :(

    Here is a link to clip of the first draft. I have changed it up a bit. But let me know if it sounds to hokey in dialog, and would be better in journal exerts.

    http://www.writingforums.org/showthread.php?t=19512
     
  7. Aeroflot
    Offline

    Aeroflot Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2009
    Messages:
    182
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    I think what you should do is add more characters to your story, build them up, make the reader care for them, and off one each chapter or two, just for excitement. The theme could be "nothing is permanent, the world is constantly changing." ;)

    But seriously, it doesn't matter when you off a character as long as it works. Pretty much if the story works, then you can do anything you want.
     
  8. Dr. Doctor
    Offline

    Dr. Doctor Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2009
    Messages:
    411
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Florida
    Yeah, it's quite a good way to get people interested, especially if the character dies in an unusual and extraordinary way. If it benefits your story, do it without another thought.
     
  9. Kratos
    Offline

    Kratos Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2008
    Messages:
    791
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Maryland, United States
    The first character you read about in every A Song of Ice and Fire book dies in the first chapter. And it works brilliantly.
     
  10. iolair
    Offline

    iolair Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2009
    Messages:
    265
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Exeter, UK
    You could still fill in the father's story with things like flashbacks, other characters revealing things about him, or even the MC finding old letters, diaries or newspaper articles.
     
  11. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Consider that by keeping him alive but ill for a longer period, you can increase the tension in the story.

    But any point in the story can work, depending on how you use it.
     
  12. architectus
    Offline

    architectus Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Messages:
    1,796
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Ca
    He/she is not really a supporting character if they die in the first few chapters. And I don't think there is anything wrong with killing a charater right away.
     
  13. g1ng3rsnap9ed
    Offline

    g1ng3rsnap9ed Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2009
    Messages:
    204
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    A small town called Pox...
    You shouldn't kill a character off when you want to. If the character is only in the story to die, then drop him/her completely, if not then wait until the character's time comes-so to speak. imo to kill them off just to kill them off would be a waste of character.
     
  14. dazbizkit
    Offline

    dazbizkit Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2008
    Messages:
    46
    Likes Received:
    0
    I read the clip you posted up. It was very suspenseful and instantly set up the main goal for your MC so you've got a pretty good hook going on there.

    Keeping him alive for another chapter will definitely already slow the story down and seems quite pointless. But I think you shouldn't reveal as much as you did in the snippet IMO. If the father wasn't able to divulge as much information it would seem like the MC would be more driven to find out exactly what he was trying to tell him. He and the reader would be given more questions to have to find the answer to.

    Some members of the forum are saying "Don't kill him straight away, kill him when it's right". That seems to be the right point to kill him off if you ask me.

    Well that's my two cents anyways.
     
  15. Rei
    Offline

    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2008
    Messages:
    7,869
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    Kingston
    Ah, should have told us this sooner. In this context, especially if you feel that the pace is hindered by keeping him alive longer, then killing him in the first or second chapter is probably a good idea.
     
  16. Benska
    Offline

    Benska Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Australia
    In my opinion, it would be best to kill him off in the first or second chapter, because I would think that any child would stay by their sick father's side until he passed away, especially if they knew it would be relatively soon, and if he was alive for much longer than even one chapter it could severely hinder the pace. But, then again, I don't really know your character at all, which is what would be the defining thing.
     
  17. Castlesofsand
    Offline

    Castlesofsand Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Messages:
    1,279
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Canada
    I'm more inclined to say the Second chapter, just to build a tie between the reader and the events circling the character.

    If killed off too quickly I tend to go, 'oh well' and then center around the others but if you bring back that character in references, I would wonder why he was so important to the story and yet killed off so soon. You could of course lessen the 'contact' of the character, a shadowed trail that's set in your mind and so when he/she dies, you 'feel' more emotionally attached binding with the others affected by the lose.
     
  18. g1ng3rsnap9ed
    Offline

    g1ng3rsnap9ed Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2009
    Messages:
    204
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    A small town called Pox...
    I'm agreeing with Castlesofsand, try to get the readers to really feel for the character before you axe them.
     
  19. Ice
    Offline

    Ice Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2008
    Messages:
    72
    Likes Received:
    3
    I haven't read the whole thread so I apologize if I'm reiterating, but this is how a lot of thrillers work. Dan Brown did this and look were he is. $$$

    Not that I'm advocating you look upon him as your stylistic idol.
     
  20. Benska
    Offline

    Benska Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Australia
    Just one thing to add: Yes, if you kill him off in the first chapter the reader will probably think "Oh well," but doing it in the second, or even third chapter wouldn't have given the reader much time to much time to develop that much a connection, anyway. Whereas if they were killed off early and their "legacy" continued through a journal or some other means, the reader could still get to know the character, in a way, and wish that they had gotten to see more of them. Longing can be more painful than loss, in some situations.

    Personally, I think that if this was done skillfully you would get an even stronger, and longer lasting emotional reaction than the latter.
     
  21. apathykills
    Offline

    apathykills Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2008
    Messages:
    226
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    israel
    I do think you should continue with your original plan and off him in the first chapter.

    It will enhance the filling that the journal/letters are the only connection to the father left, and make him a more mysterious figure.

    You won't be able to make a connection with him in the first few chapters anyway so it's probably best if instead you show the loss the mc feels at his loss, showing his importance that way.

    I can't really say more then that until I've seen more of the story :)
     
  22. becca
    Offline

    becca New Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2009
    Messages:
    0
    Likes Received:
    26
    I would like to thank everyone for there thougts and opinions. They have made me think of things in ways that I hadn't before. That is one of the reasons I like to get a collection of suggests and thoughts from others. Thank you for taking the time to help me out. :)
     
  23. traffic101
    Offline

    traffic101 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2008
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    I think since it's your story, you decide. I think it's important to have drama and something to hook the reader early on. If killing the father does it, go for it. The journal idea is great, or perhaps an old friend of the father's...or the mother...or something could be added later.

    What's important is for the reader to understand what's going on.

    Good luck.
     

Share This Page