Friday, January 6, 2017

Killing a character. Why?

 This event usually takes place in action, adventure type fiction stories. There are many reasons why an author kills a character. If it is one of the bad guys…well, that usually doesn't bother the reader. After all they deserved to die because of their previous misdeeds. Right?
But what about when the author kills a good guy? There are many reasons for this and authors have many motives for killing someone. For one reason, good seldom prevails over bad without there being a cost. That cost is usually a living soul rather than a material object. Perhaps the writer has reached a point in the story when the character is no longer needed. He/she, the character, doesn't have a place in the progression of the story. They're usually one of the minor characters anyway so why continue to develop them. Developing a character takes time and effort. That's the simple reason. Out of the book out of the mind. (chuckle)
But what if it's one of the main characters? Again, there are many reasons. Maybe the character's death helps in the development of another character or spurs some type of action. There is also the emotional effect on the reader. Let's face it, most authors like to draw the reader into their stories. They want the reader to feel joy, triumph, loss and pain as if they are part of the tale rather than just an outsider looking in. Ending a character's life whether they a good or bad, is one way of doing this.
Readers please share your thoughts about this.
Authors, what are some of the reasons you kill a character?

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Nancy Gideon said...

Early on in my career, I killed off the hero from a previous book as a catalyst for his daughter's growth and maturity. I felt it was a strong and necessary story development . . . I underestimated the average romance reader. Many were outraged and heartbroken that I did away with that character, something that a fiction reader wouldn't have blinked an eye over. Romance readers create very strong bonds with our characters, the same way we do with celebrities we've never met. If we've done our job, our characters are "real" to the reader and offing them can be traumatic so our reasons for doing so had better be for more than just shock value. Paranormal readers are a little edgier and more willing to accept violence if it aids in plot movement and has a purpose. Just don't do in a child or heaven forbid, a pet!

Francesca Quarto said...

When I killed off an appealing dwarf werewolf in "Wolf Master of Iron Mountain" Book 1 in my series, I heard from several readers unhappy with my dispatching of the hairy imp! But he had to go, because I was cleaning out the nest of vipers so to speak and he had been one of long standing, no matter how charming he appeared. Thanks for the great insights. Guess I can keep on killing characters off, eh?

Diane Burton said...

I'm going to answer as a reader. I hate, hate, hate it when a character is killed off. In TV series, for various reasons, a character is killed off. I'm very disappointed, esp. when I've grown to love that character. Same in books. It's heart-wrenching. I've invested so much emotion in that character only to have him/her killed off? Horrible!

As a writer, I've never killed off a good guy/gal. Bad guys, you betcha.

Maureen said...

As a panster, when I've had to kill off a character it usually comes as a surprise to me as well, but a necessary action for the story to progress. I've had a few readers complain, but I'm at the will of my muse and the story. ;)

CJ Burright said...

I hate it when characters I love die (are you listening, George R.R. Martin?). I've killed a couple characters off in my own stories, but they're usually minor. I don't let the reader get TOO attached, even though sometimes I've been quite attached and had trouble icing them. :)

J Hali Steele said...

As an author, I'm not a fan of killing off characters. I'm going to use the excuse that most of them are supernatural and would probably find a way back. As a reader,I was into one series and when a character I liked got killed, I stopped - and there are 5, 6, heck lost count, more books! Nope, not a fan of killing off people I've come to love.

Victoria Craven said...

It would be very brave to kill of a main character. You may run a risk of having the reader throw your book across the room and never want to read another one of your books because they couldn't trust you. Be careful. An author had a habit of killing off main characters. I just stopped reading her books.

Elizabeth Alsobrooks said...

Can you imagine if Harry Potter died? Exactly.