1. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Should I kill off my MC's companion?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Link the Writer, Jan 19, 2012.

    Basically, in my Amos Mystery #1 story, he has a companion from the start of the book, Benjamin. They've known each other for three years as they work in the tavern. Benjamin, to put it short, is a twelve-year-old kid (Amos is fourteen) with the ideas and to him the sky's the limit. Amos is the one who keeps him down to earth and in reality.

    They're not brothers, but they consider each other brothers. When Amos is in danger, Benjamin does everything he can to help him and vice versa. They both do not trust the Parrish, a wealthy plantation owning family who takes them in. Benjamin, especially as he fears the eldest son, Robin, is trying to wedge himself between them. Now, okay, Robin's a nice guy but he's more of a charasmatic person, not the bubbly head-in-cloud type like Benjamin is.

    To put it bluntly, I don't want to kill Benjamin off. I want him to stay with Amos as a brother, but in the future Amos stories, Benjamin doesn't appear. His role is replaced by Robin who eventually becomes an elder brother for Amos (as Amos was for Benjamin.)

    I like this kid, I like him a lot and am afraid to kill him off; yet the plot dictates I have to.
     
  2. Metus
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    Metus Senior Member

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    If you have to kill him, you have to kill him. The real question is: Can you make his death an important part of the plot? If he's murdered in a back alley by a throwaway character and it's over and done with, I'd probably avoid it. But if his death plays some kind of important part in the plot or has long-lasting effects, then I'd kill him.

    If his death is somehow related to Robin's actions, it seems like the residual conflict could have deep affects on the relationship between Amos and Robin.
     
  3. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    This right here tells you what you should do. Deep down, you know/think you should kill your character. So do it. But I agree with Metus that it should be done in a way that's meaningful, in the right time and place. Think about when J.K. Rowling killed off some of the major characters in the last few Harry Potter books (no spoilers on who in case anyone doesn't know) - it was really powerful, because 1) readers had come to know and love them throughout the series, 2) the deaths were shocking and abrupt, not something that was obvious all along, so the reader feels the living characters' surprise and horror, and 3) the deaths were actually important, because the characters died fighting for good or died sacrificing so the good guys could live.

    You want to carry it out like that when you have a close companion character like Benjamin (esp. since he's a kid). Not like, "oh, this random tavern boy was here in the first few chapters of the first book, but then he kind of fizzled out and now he's dead. Hmm."
     
  4. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    well in any situation because Benjamin came first, and you have awarded him the tile of companion I would personally stick with the character because in the story he was the first to appear alongside Amos.
    In real life people like to think their friends are as important as their families because they are key to well beings and are their confident.
    So I as a reader would propably most upset if Benjamin is killed off.
    Itis better to be consistand with your story plot from the beginning.
    To suggest he is a companion then suddenly you have to kill him off because someone else's has appeared has brought nothing to the reader.
    In real life it is very read to from bonds with genuine people.
    To replace him at a drop of a hat is saying anyone can do that
    As to Robin Iwould rather create an atmospehere between him and Ben to show strenght and bring out qualities of how one defend one's self form rivalires and jealousy. It is better to keep him for conflict then bring him out ast he bestest one for Amos and show Robin as being the fake one, the perpatrator within the story or bring the three together after conflict, under a resolution where all their differences are solved and new trio bond is formed. The more the merrier..
    The more tense charcaters become in the story the better the read.
    If Ben does not appear it does not matter. They can keep intouch via letters/phone ect..
    That is my view.

    I mean you never know when Ben is suddenly needed again.
     
  5. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I have to respectfully disagree, Cacian. I agree with your point that Link shouldn't feel obliged to kill him off solely because he doesn't appear much after a while, but not the rest of it. Adhering to the mindset that it's not acceptable to kill off a character simply because it will upset a reader is really hindering. Think of Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Narnia, The Lion King, etc...all had characters who die, esp. characters who the audience cared about.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it's necessary for a good story, but it shouldn't be avoided for the sake of not upsetting anyone. Thinking this way will only make your writing bland and timid. The writing that stands out over the course of decades is writing that challenges by stirring controversies or emotions to promote intelligent, critical thought. Again, not saying you can only accomplish this through a death, but feeling like you have to avoid killing off the MC's best friend even if the story calls for it, simply to not step on any readers' toes, is crippling.

    Of course, it should cause Amos to seriously grow or change as a character. Perhaps it sharpens his motivation, gives him more ambition or a more hardened personality, causes him to aim high in life for Benjamin's sake, causes him to develop bad habits out of grief which he must later overcome, etc.
     
  6. Hellchoseme
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    Hellchoseme Member

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    I'm very different to you. I seem to have an impulse to torture myself by killing my favourite characters. When I feel the emotions I want the reader to feel, I think that means I'm succeeding.
     
  7. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    Liking a character doesn't justify keeping them alive. Some of the best moments of tragedy in a story come from the death of a well-loved character.

    Eddard Stark, the noble idealistic truth-seeker.
    Kamina, the charismatic leader of the Gurren Brigade
    Sirius Black, the estranged wrongly-convicted godfather

    If anything, killing a character no-one cares about carries less impetus than killing a character that plays a vital role. It's just a matter of arranging circumstances so that the story itself gains more than it loses.
     
  8. Clipsey
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    Clipsey New Member

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    I am of the mind that...if you like him a lot, and feel he adds something special to the story-or if he could prove to be useful to you later in the plot, you should keep him. I would also keep him if his personality is unique/unusual. Dare I say it...it's almost cliche for the unique ones to die? But if he's just doing the same thing and providing the same support/whatever throughout the whole story, then yes..let him go.
     
  9. Holo
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    Holo Senior Member

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    If the story calls for him to die, then he must die. It's hard to kill your darlings, but it makes your story better. The other day I started bawling as I realized that one of my main characters had to die. But it had to be done. Characters that die are immortalized to the reader because they have the strongest impacts. So let your story run its course. Your protagonist won't forget Benjamin and neither will the reader.
     
  10. SunnyDays
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    SunnyDays Member

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    You could have him become sick, or get into an argument. When you talk about a companion I think of Sam in the Lord of the Rings. It would be heart breaking if her died.
     

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