1. Alex R. Encomienda

    Alex R. Encomienda Contributor Contributor

    Jan 12, 2016
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    Trying to create the perfect final battle...

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Alex R. Encomienda, Apr 16, 2018.

    Well, I'm at that point in my story again. I struggled a bit on my first draft and now I'm struggling on my second draft.

    There's this story arc that comes to an end and it involves gypsy cultists and Spanish soldiers. Throughout the story so far, the colonel (antagonist) has been at war with these gypsies and I wrote part of the final battle but I'm planning for most of the pov characters to bite the dust in this chapter. Organizing their deaths in an effective way has definitely been the challenge. It's also in the middle of the story but I have two more pov characters to follow in the later half. What do you suppose is a good way to kill off several POV characters effectively by organization?

    One paragraph- bullets go flying, an explosion occurs, John dies.

    Back and forth gunfire, people running away,

    Next paragraph, Larry dies,

    Two more paragraphs later, colonel dies, hero is then killed.

    Do you think more time or less time with each death is better and why?

    Let's get a discussion going here. When was the last time you had to make a huge character death? Did you 'try' to make a huge deal about it or did it happen in narrative?

    Thanks in advance!
    Sir Douglas likes this.
  2. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

    Aug 8, 2015
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    I've never read him, but George RR Martin might be a good writer to model. If I was going to kill a bunch of POV characters at once I'd probably read one of his books.

    In "The Emotional Craft of Fiction" by Donald Maass, he says (basically) that readers need to stay on a subject for about 15 seconds to have an emotional reaction to it. So if you kill one character, then kill another in less than half a page, they won't be reacting to the first death. They'll be reacting to the whole scene, or maybe not at all.

    From personal experience, I find back to back character deaths tiring and overwhelming. I'd be inclined to stretch them out and allow for in character reactions to the deaths, but that's just me.

    The only real way to know is to write it, give it to readers, and accept that you might want to rewrite the scene again after you hear from them about how it made them feel.
  3. Siena

    Siena Senior Member

    Jun 3, 2012
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    Well, it's not just about death. Each character represents something and that thing dies too.
  4. Azuresun

    Azuresun Senior Member

    Mar 25, 2017
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    I think so many characters dying in such a short timespan could be risky--either you annoy the audience that their favourite character gets bumped off with very little time devoted to the death or dramatic impact, or you end up numbing them ("Oh okay, everyone dies, who's next?") by blitzing through all the deaths. It could work, if you establish that characters can die suddenly and for little reason in the story up to that point--and you've actually pulled the trigger on major characters, not just bumped off red shirts.

    At the moment, I'm dwelling on the death of a minor character whose death was mentioned offhandedly when it happened. The idea is that the main character finds after the fact out they only knew very little about who this person was and what they meant to other people. It's meant as a way of putting forward a theme that should be important later, that you often don't know people as well as you think you do.

    Probably the most influential death in the story was the character's mother, which happens ten years before the present of the story. It's been interesting to explore a character almost entirely (apart from flashbacks to the death from the POV of three different characters) through their influence on the rest of the cast.

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