1. Sieglinde
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    Sieglinde Member

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    Too much death?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Sieglinde, Jun 5, 2010.

    I'm going to kill 6 characters in my novel (not counting redshirt types and enemies), and I worry it's maybe too much. It's historical fiction, and I basically wipe out all leads.

    - Character 1 (a quite likeable villain) is stabbed by Character 5.
    - Character 2 (who had a crush on Ch 1 and betrayed practically everyone, but he angsted so much one can't really be angry with him) jumps into the sea after Ch 1 is dead.
    - Character 3 (a complete monster) is pwn'd with some heavy object by Character 4.
    - Character 4 will most likely take a bullet of make some other heroic sacrifice for character 6.
    - Character 5 is shot by soldiers who are after him for killing Character 1.
    - Character 6 definitely must die after Ch 5 (his lover) dies.


    2 has a crush on 1 who only uses and torments him
    3 rapes and beats 4 constantly, and wants to get 6
    5 and 6 are perfectly in love
    1 has a mad desire for 5 and is jealous on 6.
    4 has a secret crush on 6 who was kind to him, and kills 3 mainly to save his life/honour (and also because the bastard used him for 20 years)

    Yeah, it's complicated. :D And they are all men.


    Question is, isn't six deaths too much? 2 dies 1-2 chapters after 1, and at the end 4,5 and 6 die shortly after each other. Will it not be bad for balance? And, given that 2 and 6 are suicides, would that not be too much in one story? (I can't see 6 any other way. He can't live and dying from just grief is not realistic. That one only works when you sing for ten minutes before it.)
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It really depends on the story and how you tell it. Maybe it's excessive, maybe not.

    Just ask yourself. Is each death necessary?
     
  3. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    Are you sure they are all men?:confused:
     
  4. Halcyon
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    Halcyon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, take them all out. Compromise is the language of the Devil! ;)
     
  5. Evil Flamingo
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    Evil Flamingo Contributing Member Contributor

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    I actually believe this would work out because of the form. The fact that two of them are dying right away, and that the last three die near the end works out well because the reader has the whole open area between for the story. If they were evenly spaced, I would say no.
     
  6. Sieglinde
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    Sieglinde Member

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    I'm pretty sure, it's a Napoleonic-era naval story. No females at all.
     
  7. Evil Flamingo
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    Evil Flamingo Contributing Member Contributor

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    That makes a lot of sense then.
     
  8. shadowknight
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    shadowknight New Member

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    I dont think six deaths is too much, so long as each death is dramatic and makes the reader feel something when each character dies.

    Two suicides in one story might be a little much, but it all depends on how you tell the story, and where you want to take it. Do you want it to be a depressing type of story? Or are you trying to put more of a positive message into it? Not that a story necessarily needs a message, but either way, if your going to kill these characters, I think you have to emphasize the reasons behind each individual death, and really develop their characters before they get killed off.
     
  9. Sieglinde
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    Sieglinde Member

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    They get enough development. I'm at 160 pages now an nobody died yet. I'm about halfway.
     
  10. Lankin
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    Lankin Member

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    Sounds right to me...
    And, if I may add, I would really like to read your Novel :)

    I wouldn't worry about the body-count. Hamlet, e.g., is a lot worse in that respect^^
     
  11. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    My current attempt at a novel is a little bit more on the death side in terms of body count. Granted, the deaths are mainly supporting characters but it's still quite a high number. Lots of stories can have a lot of death. It's just like anything else, it's how you do it. Sometimes killing lots of characters helps to create a realistic feeling since characters who just miraculously all survive so darn much are kind of hard to relate to. IMO, characters that can die are more precious to readers since they know they can lose them.
     
  12. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    I have to say I am really curious about the story. I actually think, from what I have gathered, some deaths are inevitable in your story. So, why not five deaths. But you have to be a bit careful about those two suicides.
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Consider how it may complicate matters if one or more of the murder attempts doesn't fully succeed. Suddenly you have victims who may be potential witnesses, or who may wish to exact revenge, or profit by blackmailing the attacker.
     
  14. Sieglinde
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    Sieglinde Member

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    All the killing begins with a failed murder attempt. 1 on 6. That's why 5 kills him in the first place.
     
  15. Aeschylus
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    Aeschylus Contributing Member

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    Ask yourself which of the deaths are necessary, and imagine the story with one or more of the deaths removed. This will tell you if there is point to them. If the story largely hinges on these deaths and they really add something, then they are not excessive; if they're killed for the sake of having someone killed off, it is.

    And if I might add, it sounds like a very interesting story. Much more so than most of the ones on this forum.
     
  16. Sieglinde
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    Sieglinde Member

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    Well, let's see...

    1 must die; so 5 would face a court-martial.
    2 must die, he was already playing with the idea, and losing 1 is more than enough to push him over the edge.
    3 is an evil mother****er, technically he could live, but with all likeable characters dying and him being victorious, the reader would feel depressed. There must be a little divine justice, even if it's a dark and hopeless tragedy. And he deserves to die. He's abusing underage midshipmen, making a slave of his lieutenant, and enjoys hangings way too much. The type you'd want to feed to Cthulhu.
    4 if he kills 3, he must pay for murder. If not, he can probably live.
    5 must die, he was the catalysator of the story, and you can't have a happily ever after if you are a murderer (it was not self defense, and not "pure" vengeance, there were darker reasons too).
    6 is the central character, and the whole point of the story is his downfall, how a proud and stoic man gives up everything for love, and loses everything. At the end, he wants to save his honour (he's way too much into his Romans).


    So 3 and 4 are possibly not necessary to die, but the reader feels a little better if the pervert bastard is killed. I'm not Mr. McCarthy to kill every nice guy and let the Complete Monster do a victory dance.


    (Edit: Site is ***-ing things out? What is this, sunday school?)
     
  17. Aeschylus
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    Aeschylus Contributing Member

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    If you're telling a tragedy already, why would you concern yourself with how "depressed" the reader will get if the bad guy survives? It's your call in the end; if you feel that killing him off will help the story, by all means, go for it. You just don't seem entirely sure that it's important to your story. You clearly want this to be a tragedy, and seem capable of making it so. Kill him, but only if it's something you want to do, rather than something you're doing because you think the reader would prefer it that way. Don't let the reader govern you.
     
  18. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Sounds good to me. As long as all the deaths are important to the story then go for it. If it doesn't turn out how you want there's no rule against editing it. ;)
     
  19. Shinn
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    Shinn Banned

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    I don't think it's too much death; my story surrounds D-Day, and thousands of men died that day to end Hitler's Third Reich.
     
  20. Aeschylus
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    Aeschylus Contributing Member

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    Yes, Shinn, but war scenarios are different. What Sieglande is talking about is murders that do not happen as a result of a single broad conflict but separate, interconnected ones, where there are only a few characters involved. That is very different from D-Day.
     
  21. JTheGreat
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    JTheGreat Contributing Member

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    Just try to keep each character around long enough so that their inevitable deaths invoke emotion with the readers.

    Yay! This is my 100th post!
     
  22. valdein lawnstin
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    valdein lawnstin Member

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    forgive me i am a little biased with the homosexual nature of it so i will attempt to give an objective opinion.

    the types of deaths that are in your story seem to be reminiscent of Greek tragedy dose the main character die or is he marooned on earth alone? the amount of characters dieing doesn't seem to be a damper on the story, is it a comedy a tragedy a romance novel (forgive the generalizations but a more or less type thing)
     

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