1. CadillacXLR8r
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    CadillacXLR8r Member

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    Question (I don't even know if this goes here...)

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by CadillacXLR8r, Aug 24, 2011.

    Like I said in the title, I have a question about characters, but I don't know if it technically fits into development? How do I get over the attachment I have to all of my characters so I can kill any of them off? I end up throwing a new character in so I can move the story through the dry parts easier, but then when I continue doing that, I have way too many characters. I want to know if it is common for people to be unable to kill off even the slightest character they have created. I feel like my nature is getting in the way of actually making good stories. If I am able to kill off my characters, I feel like I would write a whole lot better... Any suggestions on how to deal with the attachment you have towards your characters?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    A character exists to move the story along.
    Everyone needs a sense of purpose.
    A character in comfort and at peace lacks purpose, so is profoundly unhappy.
    A characvter who is burned, maimed, sickened, or killed has purpose.
    A tormented character is a happy character.

    It's a strange logic that governs the existence of the literary character. So be cruel to be kind.
     
  3. JackElliott
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    JackElliott Senior Member

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    I don't know that there is much else to say but get over it.

    There is another issue here, though, and that is how you introduce a new character into a story to get through the dry parts. That doesn't sound like a good solution to the problem.
     
  4. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    If agree. If you have dry parts, take a hatchet to them. They shouldn't be there.

    And yes, you have to be able to torment and even kill your characters.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Dry parts make good kindling. Remove them and chuck them in the fireplace.
     
  6. Corbyn
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    Corbyn Lost in my own head Contributor

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    Think of it this way ... How many PEOPLE do you know that are happy all the time? How many people do you remember that have impacted you that have lived through to be a ripe old age.

    Characters should be people inhabiting their own little worlds. People aren't always happy and don't always live a really long time.

    If your THAT attached to these characters save their backgrounds after you kill them off. You can always go back and tell THAT characters story.
     
  7. EMSchell2009
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    EMSchell2009 Member

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    If you have a character that you particularly enjoy, killing them does not necessarily mean that they cannot be visited again. I do not mean that you should resurrect them in a classic sense, but later you can always write thier story before thier death.

    I have a particularly strong character who I adore. Just now she is making an appearance in my current piece, if she needs to die in this book, that is OK with me. It is OK because I fully intend to dedicate an entire book to her story. I think of her as an old friend and she is an old character for me and, much like Flagg for Stephen King and R. Daniel Olivaw for Asimov, she tends to crop up in many of my stories. I can kill her if I need to because I am not married to this time period and can create a past one at any time.

    Keep these thoughts in mind as you try to become a cold and murderous author.

    Em
     
  8. CosmicHallux
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    CosmicHallux Senior Member

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    I haven't written much, but in a short story my MC died. (Edit--actually she wasn't technically the MC, but she was a big character who was almost solely responsible for moving the plot.) I cried when she died. Lol.

    Everyone dies. At least she died for a purpose. And afterwards there were hints that she was still around (that she went to "Heaven" or something). But her death was essential to move the plot forward, or I wouldn't have had her die.

    You can see this kind of thing in Harry Potter, when Dumbledore dies he is still there in spirit. Death is part of life, depending on what you are writing it doesn't have to be some desecration of the character. Dumbledore's character seemed to get richer after he died.
     
  9. CadillacXLR8r
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    CadillacXLR8r Member

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    Thanks everybody! I understand that adding in characters to move through a dry part isn't the best solution, and I plan on working on that. But I don't understand how you say there shouldn't be dry parts. In a lot of books I've read the dry parts are only there because they have to be, otherwise the character would be confused later on. But a lot of times I find that if I just keep having him jump from exciting event to exciting event, the reader gets bored.I don't want the reader to be thinking, "Oh, he needs to fight a giant spider today? Yesterday he got kidnapped by some werewolves. A lot going on in his life right now." I think sometimes stories need some 'dry' sections in the sence that they are a little boring to read, but they separate out the big scenes. But, as I am only a senior in high school, a lot of you know more than me about writing.
     
  10. Corbyn
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    Corbyn Lost in my own head Contributor

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    Yes but ... 9 times out of 10 a "dry" spot isn't dry because theres not any action, to me a dry spot is me reading something and thinking... yeah so what who cares?... Make sure your dry spots are important and if they are that dry where they make you think who cares then you probably need a different way to move through the information.
     
  11. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Just because there isn't life-threatening action going on doesn't mean a part is "dry". There are times when you need to build, to show a character's growth, to build his or her relationships and give the reader a chance to understand him/her. You also build suspense or set a scene, or maybe even give the reader a good laugh or something to smile about. The best thing to do is to read a wide variety of works from different genres to get an idea of how to best pace your story.
     
  12. Kriley
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    Kriley New Member

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    One of the best writing tips I have read over the years basically states that every scene should either develop the character or advance the plot; everything else should be scrapped. I think this is great advice.

    As for killing off a character, I developed one of the main characters in my trilogy with every intent of killing them off at the end of the first book. I have not reached that part, and know it will be hard, but it is integral to the story line.
     
  13. JackElliott
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    JackElliott Senior Member

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    I think you may be slightly confused about what the novel's pace means.

    Good fiction, like good music or a good film, has peaks and valleys of intensity. Those valleys -- the quiet moments -- do not have to be "dry" or boring, because it is not action which makes a scene interesting, it is character and conflict, and conflict manifests itself in many different ways -- not just physical.

    This understand may come better with maturity. You realize that the conflict of real life, with all of its subtext and layered meaning, is a much more potent force than explosions and gun battles and the like.
     
  14. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    There shouldn't b e dry parts.

    You'll have places where there isn't much "action" in terms of fighting, killing, or whatever. Places where the pace slows. But they shouldn't be dry. They should still be interesting to read.
     
  15. CadillacXLR8r
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    CadillacXLR8r Member

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    Okay, I understand more now...
     
  16. Backbiter
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    Backbiter Contributing Member

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    I know I'm a bit late here - since we're all talking about the "dry" parts now - but I want to go back to the "killing off characters" bit for a minute.

    I may just be sadistic or naturally aggressive, but I find it easy to kill off my characters. In fact, I enjoy it.

    Why? I use that to move the story along. I justify the death. "Don't worry, this character died for a good cause, and is now considered a hero". "This character was willing to give up his life, so I shouldn't feel bad". It's all part of being a writer, in my opinion. You've gotta be willing to make sacrifices when necessary.

    Bud, talk to me sometime later or I can chat with you on Monday, and I can help you get through the whole "attachment" thing.

    As for the dry parts:

    They aren't necessarily "dry", maybe just hard to work through. I know this has been said here, but I'll reiterate: every scene should change something. Developing a character, introducing a setting, throwing in some much-needed conflict, or whatever it may be. But the scene should always have some importance. Otherwise, there is no reason for it to be there.

    Just my opinion.

    Hope it helped!
     
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  17. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    Yeah, I've done this a few times myself. What I've learnt is: Don't get to know them too much. Just put those who you're going to kill off in as stock characters. You know, the overly-dramatic waitress. The poor, sadist drunk. The good-samaritan. Just state their position in your story, give a bit of info to characterize them, and move on to kill them off.

    Now, if you plan on making them major or even minor characters, you will have to deal with killing them off if you've gotten to really know them well. It's sad, but if it's part of your plot, you've gotta do what you gotta do. Just make sure you make their deaths count. Make their deaths turn the story, change the way your other characters feel or think. Make their deaths really, really sad and tragic. Then you'll, in my mind, have done those good characters justice. You know, given them a proper epitaph, in a way.
     
  18. Mifio
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    Mifio Member

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    The problem with not getting to know your characters much is that to write a character, even a simple one, you should know at the very least what he's going to do, and how he's going to act and react in certain situations. Without knowing your characters, you're writing blind, which can work, but 9 times out of 10 the characters end up becoming increasingly sporadic and inane and then you're left with editing him out and starting anew. Even with stock characters you're going to be dealing with names, faces, personalities. People can get attached over simple things like that.

    That being said, what I do is I preplan characters. If they are going to die, I write a simple blurb about them. Name, looks, personality, how they are going to die, etc etc. Plan out for exactly how long they are going to stay in.

    Example: Johnny Smith, bartender. When the world ends he holes up in his bar with a shotgun and lots of booze. By the time David and Co. get to the bar, he has a scraggly beard, unkempt brown hair, and it's clear he's pretty out of touch with reality. Ends up dying when Jerry shoves him down the cellar stairs.

    My advice is to preplan characters like that. That way, you can keep to killing them, you know exactly when and how he's going to die. And when the time comes to write it, you won't feel as much, considering you knew how he was going to die for the entirety of his short, pitiful life.

    That being said, I've personally never had any problems whatsoever with killing off characters. I maim my main ones, I kill the secondaries, and I torture and kill the tertiary's. And I actually have fun doing it. Maybe there's something to be said about my personality. But I'm generally a happy person! :) I just like killing off characters. Hell. I'll even kill off main characters if it'll help move the story along, or really shock and upset the readers/other main characters.
     
  19. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    ^Yeah, I know that. I was just refering to stock characters, people you maybe won't see a second time in a story who get killed off. Down further, I talked more about the characters that you would get to know more, the ones you'd need to know more about.

    I know how to create characters who are reliable ;) I'd never try to write blind.
     
  20. Mifio
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    Mifio Member

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    Oh! Okay, sorry, my b. :) I hope it didn't read like I was attacking you.
     
  21. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    No, not at all :) Thanks, Mifio.
     
  22. GreenRain
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    GreenRain Member

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    Remember, they are simply fragments of your imagination. They exist solely in your mind. The character will even manifest in the mind of the reader differently than you conceived of them, simply because he or she or xe has become a fragment of their imagination. He isn't dead, because he hasn't been alive, not really.

    Then, you hold a funeral, sing your happy to see then enter the halls of their ancestors song and watch them sip from the Horn of Mead and dine from the Plate of Meat before the Gates of Day. :(
     
  23. CadillacXLR8r
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    CadillacXLR8r Member

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    I feel that if I don't get too close to my characters, my readers won't either. If they aren't close to the characters, then they are uninterested, right?
     

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