1. Vi Ladoli
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    Vi Ladoli New Member

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    Too much dying?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Vi Ladoli, Oct 3, 2009.

    Hi there. I'm new around this place, but please allow me to make the first thread.

    I am currently working on a novel, though I'm just a beginner (been writing for 2 years, though I think I'm still in a huge need for improvement). Now, I've thought of a plot and am now in the writing phase.

    Now as new ideas come, I get the tendency to make one of the supporting characters die. I plan to change it though.

    But let me ask, is too much dying a bad thing?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Too much of anything is, by definition, bad.

    Death is a major event with widespread impact. If it has a real purpose in the story, then keep it, If it doesn't, leave it out.
     
  3. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    A single death that causes profound changes in your story is infinitely more dramatic than having supporting cast drop left and right.
     
  4. Vi Ladoli
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    Vi Ladoli New Member

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    The current ones I've planned out have the reasons to:
    1) Anger one of the protagonists to further hate the enemy
    2) Give despair to a lover

    Though there have been times when a secondary character dies, but out of an event with not much impact or purpose. I guess deaths should reall hit hard
     
  5. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    SPOILER ALERT


    I've read many death scenes and the ones that really gave me the "this is so good" feeling where when Macros died in Magician: Master ( I think that was the one, I read it soooooooo long ago) by Raymond E Feist. Another great death scene was Snape's in Harry Potter. Call me narrow minded, but I liked that one.

    I absolutely detest when an author kills off a character the reader has just met, hoping for a dramatic effect. The latest one I've read was the Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan where Percy's mom dies in like chapter three. That book is quite enjoyable nevertheless, so I continued reading it anyways.

    From the description you've given above, it's difficult to give you my specific opinion. I think it matters on how far you are in your story as well.

    Overall, I think, Cogito is right. It doesn't have to be a blood bath to be a good novel.

    Save the big impact deaths for big impact moments, and you might as well leave little ones out...

    My opinion, anyways. Good luck
     
  6. Irish87
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    Irish87 Contributing Member

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    When I first started writing seriously I was greatly influenced by the Irish migration to America and how they were received by other minorities. I ended up writing some very violent and at times grotesque stories, until I realized that I was missing the human-side of it all. As others have mentioned, death is a serious thing. One person dying is nothing to just scoff at and when someone in your story is able to, it shows what sort of person they are.

    You can kill as many people as you want, just remember to put the lasting wounds on those still alive. We humans are an enduring species, but we sure do have a tendency to let our lives sour as soon as become intimately close to death. The one thing to remember is that death is the greatest catalyst.
     
  7. jonathan hernandez13
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    jonathan hernandez13 Contributing Member Contributor

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    This question has been posed before under slightly different circumstances and conditions. My answer now, as then, remains the same - it all depends on the story.

    If it is a death for the sake of a story it may be "good", if it is done on a whim it may ruin the plot, you might have just killed the readership's fav character. Usually, killing main or supporting characters is risky.
     
  8. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Gee Watson, drop a spoiler alert before you hit us with those examples:)

    Death is powerful and realistic. It crystalizes the danger in a book and keeps us more attuned to the lives of those who haven't died yet. Off course overdo it and you've got a b-grade teenslasher...

    I think its a nice way to let the readers know that this author isn't afraid of killing off his/her main characters, so be prepared for anything. I'll cite George R.R. Martin...again
     
  9. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    Sorry Joker

    I wonder why I didn't think about that...
     
  10. MarchOfMephisto
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    MarchOfMephisto Member

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  11. jonathan hernandez13
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    jonathan hernandez13 Contributing Member Contributor

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  12. TheMaterialMatters
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    TheMaterialMatters New Member

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    You should also entertain the idea that death is too easy. In real life death is the hardest thing to face, but in fiction it is one of the easiest ways of injecting emotion and drama into your story. When I first started writing so many years ago I would kill characters here and there as some natural build of drama. These days I actually avoid killing off characters unless it is absolutely necessary, because it stinks of my earlier amateur cheap tricks. It is the first thing beginning writers turn to in order to create drama or emotion. If creating a story could be thought of as breathing life into clay, of course our creators would initially begin killing things in order to manipulate the story. If it wanted to make a clayman sad, it would kill a claywoman. If it wanted to make a claywoman feel, it would kill a clayman or claychild. If it wanted to make a clayhero swear revenge on a clayvillain... Well you get the point.

    But you would hope that after enough centuries a creator would learn that there was so much more depth, difficulty, realism and genuine humanity in creating drama without the need for such an amateur finality as death. So consider this too. Does death genuinely improve your story, or are you just turning to it as a parlor trick for making characters grieve, swear vengeance, get emotional, and so on.
     
  13. Psychopath toaster
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    Psychopath toaster New Member

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    It often bothers me when lots of characters die, because it seems so much more could be obtained with them.
    And often, they kill off the wrong characters: The ones I like suddenly die, making me want to stop reading, and the ones I detest, keep on living, which also makes me want to stop reading, because all there is left is that annoying character!

    If you kill off a character, do it right :)
     
  14. stavious5
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    stavious5 New Member

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    I think that death is a major key to any plot, but that too much dying is BAD. Let me explain myself.
    If you haven't experienced it personally, it is impossible to imagine what it feels like when someone close to you dies. If you want your characters to be believable then they are going to have to go through some of those emotions in your texts. It is a bad element to the plot to have characters die all the time. Even though its not a book, lets take for example the TV series Heroes, where someone dies nearly every episode. This is wasteful as characters who have been building up for a while and liked by audiences suddenly are no longer part of the plot. Also it is all very incencitive and too much repitition is never a good thing.
    One the other hand, death is a major part of any plot. It is very difficult to think of a story where no one dies. In drama it is often the elderly, in fantasy the villans, and in tragedies the main characters. Even children's books have the bad guy dying in the end, and war stories... well.
    The true test is to know where to limit yourself, at the point where the deaths aren't completely neccissary and do not advance the plot as much as the characters themselves potentially could. You can kill your characters, but just make sure that you are not too far stepped in blood that to continue would be just as easy as turning back.
     
  15. Operaghost
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    Operaghost Contributing Member

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    have you never read shakespeare? check out Hamlet, pretty much everyone dies, its not neccesairly a bad thing, but as cogito said if something is classed as too much then it is over the top
     
  16. Cosmos
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    Cosmos Contributing Member

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    Death is a natural part of life and therefore a natural thing in stories. But as was said, too much of anything is never a good thing. By splattering death all over your pages it makes the story seem incredulous and causes whatever next real big death to seem unimportant. Therefore death in a story must be used as any other device--with extreme caution and care.

    You must determine when is the most logical, story-satsifying time and way for a character to die so that it comes out not only as a shock, but logical as well. Even if the death is unexpected it still should make sense.

    I've always hated how some writers I've read stories from have their characters kicking the bucket left, right and center, with no time for the reader to actually feel for them. If there's no emotional impact, there's no impact, period.
     
  17. writewizard
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    writewizard Contributing Member

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    It depends on how much dying you mean. Death has its place. I sugguest reading some books on death&dying and see what you mean. If it has its place, you will know. ;)
     
  18. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's tough to say for sure. Some stories call for a bloodbath. Sometimes keeping characters alive ruins the story. Readers know you won't whack their character, and you also lose credibility if nobody can die. Death can be overused, and depending on the story, it might be better to pull back from it. But I think each story is different. Death is real, and as long as our story keeps that in mind, I think we can utilize it. Life doesn't spare us because we're cared about, and if our stories are to be taken as something with real characters, we can't be afraid to let characters die, even if it is a lot of them, if the story calls for it.
     

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