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  1. Al B
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    Al B Senior Member

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    Question regarding a character who dies...

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Al B, May 30, 2008.

    Okay, I'm pretty sure I'm on taking a good approach with a character who dies at the start of a tale I am writing, but I thought I'd seek out opinions here.

    The character is introduced as already dead, he is a good friend of the main protagonist, who learns that his friend was murdered, despite the character's death appearing to have been a suicide. How the main protagonist determines this is revealed by a flashback sequence with both he and the dead character at college; something his friend does in the flashback sequence makes it apparent that it could not have been suicide.

    However, my question to you all is this: In the flashback sequence, we see that the dead character was extremely clever and likable, probably more likable than the main character is at this early point in the tale (i.e. literally only a few pages in), so with that in mind, do you think it is risky to place a character in the book, who is clearly no longer going to feature (because they are dead), with that character seeming to be far more interesting than the one we are following in the narrative at that early stage?

    Al
     
  2. edens garden
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    edens garden Senior Member

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    Is the dead character going to continue to be in the story?
    I guess one way to do it is to have your dead character tell the reader how much he genuinely likes and cares for the protagonist. That way they will know that he can't be that bad..
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    sorry to be so 'broad' with a non-answer, but there really is no fits-all answer to your question... anything can work if the writer is good enough to make it work... and nothing can, if the writer isn't...
     
  4. Lucy E.
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    Lucy E. Contributing Member

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    Hmmm...tricky one, but overall I agree with Maia.
    However, if you make a particularly intriguing trait your MC has stand out, this should keep the reader hooked until you are able to develop the character further.
     
  5. Gone Wishing
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    Gone Wishing Contributing Member

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    I can understand why you would have reservations, but I agree mostly with maia - perhaps even you could rely - in part - on the intrigue of the apparent suicide to begin with, and use the rest of the story to build affection for the MC.

    I would also tend to think that if the deceased character is so likeable, the reader would be just as interested in discovering what really happened to him, and therefore be able to develop an immediate affinity with the MC.
     
  6. Al B
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    Al B Senior Member

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    Thanks for the comments guys. Gone Wishing hit the proverbial nail on the head with what I too, was thinking, in that we do at least care about the motives of the friend in finding/avenging his friend's death, since he was so likable.

    Appreciate your thoughts everyone. Thanks again.

    Al
     
  7. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Of course it is risky! Therein lies the literary challenge. Solving "risk" produces compelling stories. Imagine how boring the story could be without this character-building and plot-enhancing flashback. In addition, dialog opportunities within the flashback scene offer a nice break from pages of straight narrative, helping the reader "turn pages" without becoming fatigued.

    The key, in my opinion, is to master the flashback scene in a fresh, non-cliche manner...which, after reading many of your posts on this site, I am confident you can accomplish. Good luck!
     

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