1. Bell City Fires
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    Bell City Fires Member

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    Throw Away Characters

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Bell City Fires, Jul 31, 2012.

    Would you care about a character the dies in the first chapter of the story?

    Perhaps I should explain a little more. The character dying at the end of the first chapter is important to the story because of her relationship to the protagonists. She is a sister to one, a girlfriend to another, and a daughter-like figure to the third. It may have the appearance of meaninglessness in the first chapter, but can I make you love her after her death? Explain who she was to each of these people and how they are effected when she is not there.
     
  2. introspect
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    introspect Member

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    :D

    It all depends on how she died and why? If all of them loved or hated her same. Then they would show in different ways. It wouldn’t necessarily bring them together. I suppose it’s kind of hard to form an opinion. I don’t know what your writing about it. What’s the story about?
     
  3. Crystal Parney
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    Crystal Parney Member

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    I believe if her death is to jump start the plot, it should be okay.
     
  4. B93
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    B93 Active Member

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    We probably don't need to deeply care about her in chapter 1. Don't over-involve her or give more than the reader needs to know about her to understand the reactions the rest of the characters have. If you spend too many words on her, the reader may think she is the protagonist and be disoriented when she is gone.

    A lot of her will come out when they react and reflect on her. I have a suspicion that if you write the rest of the story, you can come back and pare down chapter 1.
     
  5. Bell City Fires
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    Bell City Fires Member

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    Currently writing this story in different forums, predominantly as a comic book, as I think the visuals provided by the story are epic. Suffice to say the first comic arc would be entitled 'The Face that Lit the City on Fire' as a direct reference to her passing/killing. It's coincidence, but its the first event in a city devolving into chaos. The forum name is the working title of the project.
     
  6. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    When I think of throw away characters, I think of red shirts. (Members of the landing party that are only there to die.)

    This is a character destined to die to propel the story forward.

    The reader doesn't care about the chapter one corpse, they care about how the MC feels about the corpse.
    You can only give a little incite into the dying person, the characters will have to share the rest.
     
  7. Luna13
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    Luna13 Active Member

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    I think you could make one care about her after her death... just depends how it's done.

    I read a book once where the first chapter took place right after the funeral of a teenage girl (the protagonist's older sister). The story jumped back and forth between the present, with the family dealing with the girl's death, and the past, which described all the details leading up to the death. To be honest, I didn't care at all about the girl who died, but it had nothing to do with the way it was written, just the fact that I didn't like her.
     
  8. Pheonix
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    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

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    It's possible to develop a strong character reader relationship in just a few paragraphs. If you can do that, then explain how the rest of the characters viewed her after she died, I think you can pull it off. If it were a movie, there would be alot of flashbacks probably. Maybe you could incorporate something like that. Even just showing the reactions of the three other characters would help build her character. Definitely doable.
     
  9. Domino
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    Domino Active Member

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    Yes, you can absolutely care about a character that's died. You care by seeing them through the eyes of the other characters, who are left behind to mourn/remember them. It's like when someone tells you about someone you never knew personally. A friend of theirs, or family member that they loved. They can tell you stories about them, tell you something they would have said, something they would have liked, something they used to always do, and you can start to feel like you knew them. You feel empathy, feel sad for them - care.

    That's what you have to do in your story. It's all in the way you tell their story.
     
  10. Dagolas
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    Dagolas Banned

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    I would also suggest them having nightmares about her dieing (if they saw it, that is.)
     
  11. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Of course. Try the book "P.S. I Love You" - the whole novel revolves around this woman's grief and how she builds a new life after her husband's death. You never meet the husband in the book - but he leaves little mementos for his wife, little letters and gifts that arrive after he's gone.

    I recently read a non-fiction account of a woman who travelled to Congo in the hope to help and support women who have been raped, whose children and husbands have died of violence or of illness etc. There's a short space when one of the Congolese mothers was describing her 5-year-old daughter who died. Within only 1 short dialogue of about 10 lines long, I felt a pang of grief for little Nsemeru - the mother described her personality, hinted at how each child is different, how she imagined her little girl growing up. And then in the last line she gives her name, "Nsemeru. It means 'I love you'."

    That line absolutely sealed the deal - I could feel the loss. And this wasn't fiction - there was no "build up" for this girl or the mother, there was no "back story" - simply yet another story of a tragic family suffering at the hands of militia and poverty. There were no clever words, no "character development". But in maybe 300-400 words, it delivered.

    So, it's perfectly possible. Mind you, it being non-fiction may have helped the sympathy - to know that Nsemeru was not just a figment of someone's imagination but a little girl who lived and breathed and could've grown up to achieve so much.
     
  12. Lemontine13
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    Lemontine13 Member

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    Go for it! It sounds like her death will really hook and catapult everyone into the story, and people will care about her death, especially so if the other character have flashbacks back to her life and we are shown how they are coping/not coping etc.
     
  13. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    You can make a reader care about a character in just a few paragraphs/pages if you do it right. Just like you can care about a character in a movie based on only a few minutes of "screentime." It's all in how you write it. Sometimes those brief characters come out better than the boring sidekick who shouldn't have made it past Chapter 5 yet is still somehow alive for the climax. ;)
     

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