Monday, December 7, 2009

The Death of a Character

First up, I need to give a huge **SPOILER ALERT** for my crit group.

I hate having to deal with killing a character. It makes me feel awful, like I need a shower, a stiff drink, or something. No, I haven't killed the character I have in mind...yet. See, way back in the summer I came up with a rough outline for my WIP. And in the course of this outline, I planned for the characters to be at certain places at certain times. Well, so far my mc and her little sister have been on the run from the bad guys with their father. But I need to get rid of the father. In order for my mc to truly grow in this story, she has to be on her own, to rely on herself. And she needs to feel that she's alone in the world. So I just planned to ax her father.

But....I don't want to now. Like I said before, my characters are like real people to me. The thought of doing away with him is awful. But on the other hand, I know that the story will be way more powerful if I do this. So....that's where I'm at now. I started writing the scene last night where he was first shot, and let me say it was rough.

How many of you have killed a character before? How did you handle it? And if you have not done this before, do you think you would be able to?


  1. Hello Melissa!

    I've had to kill a character and I'm going to have to kill another one shortly. It sucks, especially since I am too young for the "stiff drink". Luckily, both characters were trying to kill the main character, so I didn't feel as guilty about it.

  2. Hello Melissa! Good to know your real name :)

    I've never killed a character but I think its going to be inevitable in one of my WIP's. I hope it's not too painful.

  3. Hi Melissa!

    I think you need to do it. Just rip the bandaid off. I know it will hurt you - heck, you may even need a day break to get over it - but you said it will make the story more powerful. And there's your answer!

    I think I could do it. But I know I'd cry because, like you, my characters really do become people to me! (One of my major characters is slated to die in the second book of the series - even just thinking about it now makes my chest feel tight!)

  4. Okay, I didn't read it. But I did stop by. :)

  5. Hi Melissa! Oh that's going to take some getting used to :)

    I think you just need to do it. Like Sara said... get yourself in that place and go forward!

  6. It's hard to kill the good guys off. I had a plan for my second book, but I think I may have chickened out of it.

  7. I know exactly what you mean. I've had to get rid of a character too, and let me tell you, it was hard!
    I even woke up early one morning in a hot sweat and burst into tears!

    But, kill them off we must, if it makes for a better read!

    Good post :)

  8. I'm a killer too, Melissa! In fact, I'm technically a serial killer. I'm so ruthless, I killed off my TITLE CHARACTERS before starting my novel rewrite, leaving me in the awkward position of having no title. ;-)- It is hard, especially when you've lived with these "people" for months (years, in some cases!) My way of dealing with the "death" is to remember those OTHER people who you have loyalties to - your beta readers. Enough negative (or even mediocre) response to certain characters warrants a death sentence in my opinion, painful as it is!

  9. Oops ... I just realized my "killing" was different than yours, in that I cut them right out of the book (as opposed to killing them on the page). But I imagine the emotional turmoil a writer goes through in both instances is similar. And I may end up killing one of my protags in this draft, but I'll wait 'til I get to that point in the story to decide for sure ...

  10. I will soon have to kill off several antagonists. I'm dreading it even though they are the enemy. They are not just simple black and white enemies - they're ambiguous and I know their back stories, their reasons for doing what they did and I hate to have to kill them off, but my story won't work without them dying - one at a time.

  11. Mariah - I wouldn't feel so awful if this was a bad guy, too.

    Natalie - I hope it's not too bad for you, too!

    Sara - Rip it like a bandaid (I like that). And I'm starting to feel sick because I'm going to write more on that scene tonight.

    Tina Lynn - Betcha you're dying to know who it is (no pun intended)!

    Diana - Yeah, I'm getting ready, but I don't like it:)

    Patti - Nooo...stay strong!

    Quillfeather - I haven't cried yet, but I know it's coming.

    Cammie - Welcome! LOL, a serial killer! And I have a character like what you're talking about, too. She hasn't made an appearance for about eight chapters now, so I've either got to bring her back somehow, or cut her.

    Mary - That must be hard, killing off an antoginist who is not purely evil. Those kind of bad guys are my favorites.

  12. What up Melissa! Nice to know ya :o)

    Welp. My characters are both dead and alive to begin with, so death isn't the end all be all for me. It just starts another story! I would expect it would be hard.

    I had a character (whom I love) who's trapped in a trunked Mystery novel... I thought of killing him, but couldn't bare it. I want to put him in a new novel. Think I will!

    Good luck with your dilemma, just go with your gut, and what will make the story authentic. You'll figure out the answer :o)

  13. I have absolutely killed characters, and some of my friends have yet to forgive me. And every time I think about it, I get all teary and freak out my border collie. But the truth is, the story must be told and you have to do what it right for your story, no matter what. That said, I am not a huge fan of books where the main character dies on the last page of a sudden brain tumor. I think it is a lousy way to treat your readers, but that's just the Pollyanna in me acting up.

    By the way, I've left a little blog award for you over at my blog Stop by when you have the chance.

  14. Oh man, that's a tough one. If you feel it's absolutely necessary to kill him, then I think you just have to do it. There may be other ways to get rid of him, though, if you're just looking to make him disappear for a while. Might be worth considering. Keep in mind that once someone is dead, that's pretty much the path you take (unless you're writing a story with undead things or magic that can revive dead people...), so consider the ultimate effects the death will have. But if it's the best option, then you jsut have to do as Sara said and rip that bandaid off, and then have yourself a good cry.

  15. First of all, lovely blog! Just found my way here from Frankie's. I haven't killed a character I love ... YET. I feel bad enough doing all the bad things to them that I already do! But I'm sure it's going to happen soon. Poor things. At least most of them get happy endings!

  16. Killing a character is so hard. We've been there. I guess the good news is that if it were easy you'd know something was wrong. The fact that it's hard is a good thing. It means you're invested and hopefully your readers will be too.