So tomorrow I'm writing a random scene where a certain main character gets killed off. This is something I started thinking about when Star Wars: The Phantom Menace came out. I remember watching Qui-Gon Jinn die and was wondering why his death was drawn out over several minutes while everyone else was dropping dead instantly. I came to the conclusion that his death had to be different than everybody else's because he was the main character. Does it have to be like that, though? A drawn out death gives a reader or a viewer time to come to terms with what is happening, but what about an instant death? I can't think of a time where a main character was just killed, there always seems to be some sort of buildup to their death, it never just happens. In A Game of Thrones, Ned Stark's death isn't drawn out, but the buildup to it is. Is the buildup/tension necessary? Picture an old western shootout between two people, they usually buildup to the moment when both characters pull their guns out and start shooting, letting the person watching or reading know what is about to happen. What if a character just pulled their gun out and instantly shot the other dead, giving no time for the audience to realise that someone is about to die. So is killing a character off instantly worse than using buildup? Does it make the reader lose focus on what comes next if they're still thinking about something impactful that had no warning? Anyway, I hope this makes sense, I often have a hard time asking questions which I don't know the answer to.