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Does anyone else feel bad When they have to Kill off their Characters?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Hir i-Chorvath, Jun 22, 2019.

  1. Hir i-Chorvath

    Hir i-Chorvath Auror

    Kind of random but I'm curious. Does anyone else have problems with killing off their characters? Because I literally fall in love with my characters even when I know that some of them have to die and I end up not wanting to kill them. Especially the villians. I've literally cried my eyes out killing characters and I feel really bad about it. Does anyone else have problems with that or is it just me?
  2. Insolent Lad

    Insolent Lad Maester

    It's inevitable. I'll sometimes sketch out an alternate version just to see if there is some way they can survive without doing damage to the story. Rarely works. Even minor characters can give a bit of a feeling of loss.

    In a way, that's good, if you can weave those feelings into your story, make the reader feel what you feel. If you simply and dispassionately bump someone off, that's pretty meaningless.
    Ned Marcus likes this.
  3. psychotick

    psychotick Auror


    When I wrote Dragon I loved my hero, but for the book to work he had to die. It was the noble sacrifice. I couldn't have him go through the whole book sacrificing everything he was to save his family - and the galaxy on the way - and then have him survive. But right at the end I made an executive decision and left his fate in limbo, so that he was dying on the deck of the battleship, enjoying open heart surgery at the hands of a medbot having achieved everything he'd needed to, but not dead.

    Christian Aaron Moody the Third could actually be alive somewhere out there - ready for a sequel!

    Cheers, Greg.
  4. AnnieO

    AnnieO Acolyte

    I used to not care about killing off characters, especially if I knew from the start that they were going to die. Heck, one of the first people to get killed in my oldest work in progress is a little kid, and even though it's supposed to be sad, i didn't and still don't feel that bad about it because I knew from the moment I first wrote that character's name that he was going to die. His death is an important part of the plot, and I guess I could let him live if I really wanted, but it just wouldn't be realistic given the circumstances. But, there is another character that I'm still debating whether I should kill off or not. If he dies, it will be at the end, so it could go either way. But I wrote his death scene, just in case, and I cried while I was writing it... and when I read it later... twice. So, I guess it depends on the character, their purpose in the story, and how much I like that particular character whether I feel bad about it or not.
  5. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

    I rather enjoy killing off characters and make their deaths deliciously painful.
  6. Ned Marcus

    Ned Marcus Inkling

    I feel the same. But it's a story choice: it's necessary to do what makes the story move better—and it can be painful. The most important point is to make sure that killing off a character (or not) moves the story forward in the best way possible.

    I agree with Insolent Lad's point that it's good you feel this as a writer because then your readers will feel it too.
  7. K.S. Crooks

    K.S. Crooks Maester

    I like making villains who have little to no remorse or regret for their terrible actions. Thus their deaths are seen as justified or necessary. If a heroes' death has been planned then it serves a higher purpose of saving or inspiring someone. If the death was not initially planned then it serves as a surprise twist for the characters, reader and myself. Everyone now has to adjust to the new circumstance.
    ShadeZ likes this.
  8. TheKillerBs

    TheKillerBs Inkling

    Same. I do it gleefully.
    S.T. Ockenner and Chessie2 like this.
  9. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    So far, I've felt bad. Or, rather, I've felt empathy. I was a bit surprised by this at first, but there've only been a couple of such deaths over three books, so that's not much of an indicator.

    What I do know is that I strive to make the death worthwhile, to make it worthy of the character and the story. If I did it just to manipulate the reader, or if I felt that the character could have lived or died equally, then I really would feel badly. Weird how that works out, at least for me.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  10. Arranah

    Arranah Troubadour

    One of my books began with one of the main characters dying. No one noticed because she slipped her spirit into an artificial body mask that her aunt kept in the closet. Then the challenge was to see how long it took her friends to notice she wasn't quite herself. That was fun.

    In another book I enjoyed killing off the protagonist's boyfriend. He had been such a manipulative jerk. When the mud flow got him I felt really good about it. It was either that or have someone bite off his whatchit and while he deserved it, it would not have been good for the storyline. Grin.
  11. Besides the emotional distress you personally experience, this seems to me like the opposite of a problem (as long as you actually do go through with killing your characters!). Here’s a saying: no tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. It’s a good sign that the feelings are real to you; it’s a symptom you’re writing something emotionally impactful.
  12. MrNybble

    MrNybble Sage

    I'm merciless and indiscriminate with my character deaths. No sense in using a death mechanic if it's not used equally among all living things. Even my gods can die. My slaughter has no limits. Actually, death is some of the kinder things I have done to those poor spawns of my imagination over the years. No character really dies as they can be brought back though means that doesn't involve resurrection. Flashbacks are a fun option.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  13. Mel Syreth

    Mel Syreth Scribe

    If I kill someone in a story I probably have regretted their concepts since their creation. So no.
  14. Arranah

    Arranah Troubadour

    The problem with flashbacks is that unless executed skillfully they can confuse the reader.
  15. Sherryl.Ollamha

    Sherryl.Ollamha New Member

    When my characters have to die, I feel terrible about it. I cried when I had to kill off the abusive mother for Pete's sake. She was finally redeeming herself. Dammit.
    Hir i-Chorvath likes this.
  16. EponasSong

    EponasSong Scribe

    I get quite attached to my characters and I usually feel sad that I don't get to write about them anymore (although there are a select few that I quite look forward to. I'm looking at you Sebastian.) It does help though that most of my characters' deaths are pre-determined.
    Hir i-Chorvath likes this.
  17. Hir i-Chorvath

    Hir i-Chorvath Auror

    Thank you so much for that comment! I was beginning to worry that I was the only one who felt bad about it. No offense to the people that enjoy it, it's just not something I can do easily. Not even to the people who are so evil that they have to die. It's bad, I am just horrible at killing off characters.

    However, for some reason, I have no problem torturing characters in gruesome ways till they are nearly dead and then bringing them back so that I can do it again. So I'm not that easy-going on my characters, since I have the hardest time killing them off I just make thier lives miserable instead.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  18. ShadeZ

    ShadeZ Maester

    Technically isn't the hero/heroin killing them off though haha. Yes, I get that feeling from time to time especially when the book tends to "run away on me" a bit and "write itself" because often I find my main characters will kill one or several minor unimportant character off if I dont keep an eye on them.
  19. The Dark One

    The Dark One Auror

    I feel saddest when getting to the end of a first draft that I've really enjoyed.

    I still have the editing process, but I "live in the story" as it's reaching its crescendo and it's quite painful when it's over.

    It's like I've been dumped.
  20. Kasper Hviid

    Kasper Hviid Sage

    I don't have all that much writing experience, but when I wrote The Hellward Creature, I was super hyped about a certain death scene. But when it came to actually put the word down on the page ... oh boy, it was just super unpleasant. I think part of what made it hit so hard was that this character never got to tell its story.

    I have a few deaths in my current story which I'm unsure how I'm gonna react to. Killing off the main baddie, though ... man, I just can't wait!

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