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Zee

Killing off a Character

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The story required it, so a major character died. I just finished writing the close-to-the-end fatal scene. 


 Seems I am not alone in finding this hard (though it's probably more of a female thing, I would imagine.) 


Considered digging up my farfetched "happy ending for everyone" ending. But no.


I half-hope I'm wrong, but I believe it would spoil the story.


Anybody else written themselves into a situation like this?

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9 minutes ago, Zee said:

 Seems I am not alone in finding this hard (though it's probably more of a female thing, I would imagine.)

Probably because we're so soft-hearted. :P

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My finished novel is a retelling of the Joseph narrative from Genesis. I was extremely affected and upset for days after he got sold. It was not an experience I expected!

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2 hours ago, Zee said:

Anybody else written themselves into a situation like this?

Not writing myself into a situation, but knowing all along that a character would die at the end. I still a tough time with it, but it was one of those "well done good and faithful servant" types of passing. Mourned by many (an entire nation, in fact) with full military honors. Sent chills through me writing it. 

 

The payoff was reading a review that said "...and will admit that the ending had me wiping away a tear."

 

 

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I hate to pour cold water on this, but when I kill off a character, I know they're not real.  So I don't have any qualms about it.  So I don't find this hard at all, really.

Edited by suspensewriter
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I hear you @suspensewriter. I am not bothered by killing off fictional characters. I'm weird and happy to kill off my bad guys. Still, as I'm writing, I can get into the death enough to be upset while writing it, but once I stop writing, even if I'm in the middle of the death, I'm not bothered. I do think it helps with writing death to connect emotionally with the reader, but for me, I compartmentalize too much for this to bother me. Well, that or I'm cold-hearten. 😋

Edited by Alley
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Not death, but the breakup of a family. I had a "happily ever after" but it didn't have the impact I needed. 

 

Not without hope for a reunion : it's more like Gone with the Wind.

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In all of my writing experience, I have only killed off one character. That said, it was a character from a half finished novel. :D

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7 hours ago, Zee said:

Anybody else written themselves into a situation like this?

I'm currently there, knowing that I can't believably keep a character alive too much longer, but not wanting to kill him because it will affect later stories.

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10 hours ago, PenName said:

I was extremely affected and upset for days after he got sold.

I surprised myself by tearing up when I was writing a tiny piece of backstory for my MC.

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Yeah, well...it is what it is. I certainly wouldn't have thought I would care.

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10 hours ago, suspensewriter said:

I hate to pour cold water on this, but when I kill of a character, I know they're not real.  So I don't have any qualms about it.  So I don't find this hard at all, really.

That just goes to prove my theory. You are not female, so you'd be less likely to have one of these "yikes, wish I could change this," moments. Too rational.

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I had the Superman Effect. Readers quickly didn't worry about Superman because nothing could kill him. And that's when kryptonite entered the picture.

 

With teddy bears, you can stab them, toss them off a tower, let a dog have a go at them, take off all their limbs, but they still live. How worried can you get for them?

 

So invented a character, (because I could not kill my stuffed animals, even in fiction), to kill him. And I cheated the first go. If I don't get attached, how hard could it be? So I didn't do much with him in the first version of the story, but I still cried when he died. After that I included more and more of him, until, not only did I cry, my CP's cried too.

 

If there was another choice, I would have done it.

 

But there isn't, is there? ;)

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2 hours ago, Zee said:

That just goes to prove my theory. You are not female, so you'd be less likely to have one of these "yikes, wish I could change this," moments. Too rational.

Being a gal in a family of guys, I've worked my whole life trying to let rational tower over emotions. I'm pretty good too. I still cried.

 

It is rational to cry, just as it is rational not to get choked up too often writing suspense. 

 

(I think it's the choice in genre.)

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I had a character I wrote just to kill off for my Inciting Incident but the more I wrote about her the more I liked her and she became my favorite character. Her name is Pyrynne Thann and when she goes missing, Clay becomes a PI just to find her. As he's interviewing people he uses the same schtick - "Do you know Pyrynne Thann?" And the answer is always the same: "Of course! Everyone knows Pyrynne Thann." But then no two people know her for the same thing, and the mystery is preserved and deepened.
 

How could you kill off a character like that? I ended up killing off a middle-aged White guy. ;)

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1 hour ago, suspensewriter said:

Huh, that's interesting, Spaulding- maybe it is genre specific.

That would make sense too. 

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11 minutes ago, carolinamtne said:

I am not responding to this comment.

 

(It's a joke.) ;)

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2 minutes ago, suspensewriter said:

I think so was hers!

She didn't say she killed a character!

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(I know, aren't we the bunch, talking about who we have and haven't killed. I wonder what other people would think if they tuned into our conversations!)

 

(you should hear my sister and I when we're plotting.)

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