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  1. NRG
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    NRG Senior Member

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    Too many deaths?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by NRG, Jun 10, 2010.

    OK, so I have been planning a book for quite a while now and I'm starting to think about the end. In the last chapter, the protagonist as well his two colleagues discover a twist (it's a crime novel) before approaching the antagonist. One of the colleagues (not the main character) is ahead and confronts the antagonist on a rooftop. They wrestle but the antagonist knocks him off the building, killing him. The main character reaches the rooftops just as this happens and runs at the antagonist in rage before being stabbed by the antagonist. His other colleague and closest friend who already has injuries tries to save him by attacking the antagonist. He is killed but buys the main character some time to pull the antagonist back off the building (where it's assumed he is killed, however it is later revealed he survived).

    My question is, I know the climax is meant to be a important part of the story where characters could die, but I've (to the readers knowledge) killed off three important characters in a short amount of time and seriously injured the main. Have I done too much damage?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Northern Phil
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    Northern Phil Active Member

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    As it's the end of the book then I don't think that'll matter to much as long as it's written well.

    It also sounds like you have a seqeul planned, if you did another book after this one then you would have to introduce new characters to replace the dead ones and also talk about how the main character deals with the deaths on an emotional level.
     
  3. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think it adds realism. It's not a real battle if the main characters can't get killed or injured. That said, Ian Rankin killed Rebus off at the end of the first book, but his publisher persuaded him to change it. With 20 published Rebus novels and five Rebus TV series under his belt, I suspect he was glad of his publisher's advice.
     
  4. roseberryse
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    roseberryse Member

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    I wouldn't say that you've done too much damage. The issue many people would probably have is that a lot of times, with an ending like that, the reader is left unsatisfied in some way. If you have another way of appeasing them, some sort of closure, then I think it would be fine. I personally like to see the characters as real people who aren't invencible, and, as you said, you didn't kill off the main character. I say go for it. It's not like you can't write it this way and then go back and change it later. Maybe write it a few different ways and figure out which one goes best with the entire book.
     
  5. Afterburner
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    Afterburner Active Member

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    Take the last Harry Potter book for example. Like 50+ characters die. It just makes it all the more real when characters you've known for years get killed off.
     
  6. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Nobody can really tell you other than in generalized statements, unless they've read the story/novel. Obviously, you have a concern, NRG.

    Here are a few questions to ask yourself with respect to the work:
    --Do the deaths advance the story, improving the plot line?
    --What is the purpose behind the deaths being included?
    --What are the consequences both within the story, and in writing future novels in the same world?
    --Why is it important that those characters die?
    --What impact (result) will the deaths have on the story's end?

    Good luck moving forward.

    Terry
     
  7. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    I agree that if you write it well anything can work. Death is a part of life and therefore part of fictions as well. In the scenario you gave it is very much possible for the two chars to die. However, purely speaking from a reader's point of view, I will be disappointed to see two good guys (assuming they have been given some sort of char developments earlier in the story) dying, specially when the bad guy still lives.

    But if one of the colleagues(not the close friend) is just there for the convenience of the scene and hadn't had any char development, then it's okay to kill them both. The readers won't be emotionally connected to him (the ordinary colleague) and hence won't feel much about his death. I mean, take any action movie.... there are tons of policemen, ordinary people killed usually in quick succession by the antagonist.... but we don't feel much about them unless we have been given some background about them. They are just people killed by the antagonist. So, if you have to kill two people make one of them just a colleague who appears on that scene and nothing more.
     
  8. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    And that's why the author needs to make decisions. I feel exactly the opposite. When all developed characters lead charmed lives and come through everything safely, and only redshirts come to any harm, I feel it means that the author is struggling with character development and can't spare any characters he has developed. For me it's a sign of weak writing.

    When I saw the movie Alien, the second feature was The Fog. By the end of The Fog I and the rest of the audience were laughing because every time a developed character got into trouble, a walk-on appeared at the last minute and got killed instead. In Alien, on the other hand, all characters were developed and they were killed off one-by-one. That was far more effective.
     
  9. NRG
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    NRG Senior Member

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    Thanks for all the help guys. I'm going to take Roseberryse's idea and just write it a few different ways to see how it works.Once again, thanks!
     
  10. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    To kill a char just for the sake of it is also a sign of weak writing imo. Also, in Alien (or even Predator) chars are killed one by one.... what we have here is killing two chars at one go.... I don't think we would enjoy Alien that much if two/three chars are killed together every now and then. And also in the scene we are discussing it's three against one and the antagonist is not an alien or a super-beast predator. This is totally different from the hilarious "characters leading charmed lives and coming through everything safely, and only redshirts come to any harm"
     
  11. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I guess we'll have to see how it works once it's written.
     
  12. NRG
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    NRG Senior Member

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    I see what you mean, but, something I forgot to mention, the main character and one of the other colleagues are wounded, also, they come at different times due to their wounds (the first person to arrive has no wounds and therefore has more energy whilst the last is already severely wounded).
     
  13. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    What defines two characters at one go? Within the same scene or literally a simultaneous death? Cause my current novel takes out two who families of somewhat developed secondary characters and they all die within the same chapter, even if their deaths are paced throughout said chapter.

    My current novel has quite a high body count, and few of the bodies are redshirts(even if few are main, main characters). So if a scene is bettered by some heavy death, I can't advice against it. Obviously every story is different, and sometimes killing for the sake of killing doesn't work.(A certain horror movie ending, I am looking at you) But since each story is different, I don't think I'd write out two people dying at once. It could work depending on the scene.
     

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