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Reactions to a characters death.

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Endymion, Sep 11, 2012.

  1. Endymion

    Endymion Troubadour

    How do you react when one of your favorite characters, or your favorite one, dies.
    What if he/she dies like a hero (you know, sacrificing himself for others)? What if he/she just dies (just a random death)? Does it matter?
    If the character dies in the middle of the book, can it make you stop reading it?
  2. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

    My reaction will really depend on how the death is handled & the impact that death has on the story. If handled poorly, it can leave an emptiness in the story. This is mostly true when I haven't connected with the rest of the characters yet. If handled well it can draw me further in. A character death can make me fear for the characters that I love, those still surviving. It can cause me to have a deeper connection to them knowing they could be taken away at any time.
  3. Ameronis

    Ameronis Dreamer

    I generally like to finish what I start, and I usually only stop reading a book if I find it really boring or tedious, or if I find the writing style incomprehensible to the point where I can't even get into the story. A character dying, especially if it's my favourite character, can make me feel anxious if they were a driving force for the story and their absence causes problems for the rest of the characters, mild disappointment if I liked them but they weren't as essential to the main plot, or rage if I felt they were killed off unnecessarily or in a ridiculous way that by rights should not have killed them. Nothing is more frustrating than when an author seems to decide to give their character roster a spring clean in the middle of the book, and kill off several of them in a poor manner.
  4. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    If you're a fan of Joss Whedon, you're used to it. :p

    But yes, it depends on how it was handled. Take for example LOTR and Boromir, well handled. Take for example Star Trek Wrath of Kahn, Spock, tear jerkingly well handled, but then comes Generations, Captain Kirk, I couldn't stop laughing when I should have been crying.
    Androxine Vortex likes this.
  5. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

    I thought this would be about how characters reacted to each others' deaths . . .

    I find character deaths most frustrating when they make the hand of the author too obvious.


    As one example, Battle Royale is clearly intended from an early point to have exactly two characters survive, the guitarist and his girlfriend. Things often happen that could potentially lead to a differerent set of survivors, but some stroke of bad luck always occurs to set the story back on its rightful course. After a while, this becomes both so unlikely and so predictable that it turns distracting (and it doesn't help matters that some of the doomed characters are far more complex and interesting than the guaranteed survivors.)
  6. JadedSidhe

    JadedSidhe Minstrel

    It really depends. I'm not an emotional reader, I don't boo-hoo over a book or a movie. Usually.

    When Regis Hauster finally died of old age, I bawled like a baby. The only thing that kept me reading was the fact that I'm a die hard Darkover fan.

    Some of the deaths in the Malazan series, even my favorite ones was "Awww, that sucks!" and I kept reading.

    However, I read Game of Thrones. After the character I liked died, the only thing that kept me reading was that I wanted to see how it ended. By the end of it, I was so annoyed and disgusted, I'll never read another book in the series.
  7. shangrila

    shangrila Inkling

    It depends. If it has a purpose then yes, I'm fine with it. If it's just killing someone off for the sake of it then no. That seemed to happen a lot in the later Malazan series, which was kind of annoying.


    Initially in the Mistborn trilogy I hated Kelsier's death and, even after I finished the entire series, he was still my favourite character despite appearing in barely half a book. I never understood why everyone thought Vin was so special, so I came to dislike her and Elend, who I ultimately felt were fairly simplistic characters. But at the same time, I thought both their deaths were well done and legitimately felt for them, especially when Elend died.

    So, really, if done right you can like a death of a character you didn't even like. Funny, that.
  8. Darkfantasy

    Darkfantasy Inkling

    I think everyone is different and it really depends on how the writer handles the death.
    Personally, I can get fed up with a story very easily. If a main character I really liked is killed off it can cause me to lose interest. At the same time, an MC death can add drama to the story and offer your MC a goal or even show another emotion to your characters.
    And the death has to met the character and the plot.
    Example: death of MC's mother - death by illness or wounds would be sufficant unless her dying in an honourable way added to the story or the character
    Death of MC's warrior friend - death in battle meets the characters profile having him die by an illness wouldn't be so good.
    So I think the death has to fit the character. Ask your self is the death necessary, does it more the story along?
  9. I have a death in my story coming up, and I know that it will be devastating. It'll be a main character, one that is influential in the story, and he's my main character's companion.

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