Killing Off Characters

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  1. #1
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    Default Killing Off Characters

    What do you guys think is the best way to handle this? I find it's always a hard scene to write, especially when it's an ally of the protagonist rather than a villain. I'm not a fan of the "I thought you were dead!" reunion type of thing, so I almost never bring them back once they're gone.
    Crack some heads for me, darlings. Thank you, and good night.

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    Default Re: Killing Off Characters

    Well it really depends on how you intended the character to end up through out your story, so basically it would be an end that fits the character.

    For example if the character is sacrificing in general, then he'll obviously die a hero... etc.

    But, in the end, it's all about how the author intends it to be.

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    Default Re: Killing Off Characters

    I think the most important thing to consider with a death scene - whether villain or hero, enemy or ally - is the gravity of the situation. Characters die for a reason. Whether they die so that two other characters can meet at their funeral or so somebody goes on a crazed campaign of vengeance, there is a purpose and a direction that needs to be considered when killing off a character. As a direct result of how important an event this is, the character's death needs to be treated with respect. This doesn't mean you can't make a death scene funny; depending on the fic, that may work really well. All I mean is that life and death are both very special, and the distinction between the two needs to be crystal clear and apparent. If characters die for no reason, it cheapens the impact of the deaths you really want to matter. So consider very carefully when killing named characters, because it lends a very special mood to the story. I'm probably rambling a little bit here, but what I mean to say is that death scenes are really quite pivotal in most stories, simply because they are (usually) the only thing that can't be turned around. Death, true death, is permanent and irreversible, and crossing that line makes for a very powerful scene. But with great power comes great responsibility, and the treatment of death is no exception.
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    Reality is a dream TheLlama's Avatar
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    Default Re: Killing Off Characters

    What Misheard Whisper says is very important, but in a way I disagree. I don't think character need to die, for a reason. That is, they shouldn't die only for the purpose of jet-starting a revenge quest, a coincidental meeting, or anything like that. They may, but they don't need to. A death can simply be a natural part of a story. The important part is not its workings within the story as a plot device, but how impactful it is. A death can easily be meaningless as far as the story goes, but have a great impact on the characters themselves. That really depends on what kind of story you're writing, though. But a death scene has an impact; if not on the story, then the characters.

    In the end, what's important, when writing the death scene, is to have it meaningful, but not necessarily as a plot device. Does the character have any regrets? Is there something special about the character, a habit or trait, which is defining for them? How would they act at the end? Take it slowly. Portray their last feelings. Portray the setting around. It's fiction, you don't have to worry about being a bit poetic about it (just avoid sappiness and purple prose). Do they have regrets pertaining to something they did? About someone they knew? Or are the regrets gone, and they can meet death with a smile, reminiscing about it? Did they want to live on? Was there a promise to return? Are there anyone there, for their last words? What would their last words be, then? Their last thoughts? A poetic contrast is often good. They see the blue sky. Maybe some hope, finally, at the very end. A flock of birds taking flight. Think of the symbolism there. Well-written symbolism is often what makes a death scene so special.

    And think similarly with people's reactions - especially if they are there when the character dies. What happens, what do they think+ How do they react? Is there a fight still going on? How does that pan out? And so on. Just take everything into context, and then, apply whatever reactions, thoughts, symbolism and words you feel appropriate for the story, and most importantly, the characters

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    Default Re: Killing Off Characters

    You should also consider that a character's death is a great basis for other characters' development. So just like Llama_Guy said, think of how the other characters will react.

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    Unova's #1 Yancy fan Seizon Senryaku's Avatar
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    Default Re: Killing Off Characters

    I should have worded what I said better, Llama_Guy. That is really what I meant; they have to die for a purpose, but not necessarily to start off a plot thread or anything. The core of my post was that there has to be a reason, and you can't just go killing off characters because you feel like it. Deaths can come at the beginning of a plot, or at the end of one. They can be the catalyst, the final resolution, or anything in between.
    The Atlantis Codex / Champion Game

    'A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born.' - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
    'Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more; men were deceivers ever.' - William Shakespeare
    'Beauty is everywhere a welcome guest.' - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    'When one life meets another life, something will be born.' - Un(k)own

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    Default Re: Killing Off Characters

    death is an important element in any story, i think.

    mostly, i'm all about the main character sacrificing themselves in the end; a more tragic ending to a story than the usual "hero defeats villain, and it's all happily ever after" i prefer to veer away from that kind of cliche because it's overused and, in my opinion, doesn't make a good story. usually though, it is good if it's done correctly; i just prefer the main character dying and there being no hope of respite. i NEVER make a happy ending in my story, ha :P

    anyway, like what misheard whisper and llama_guy said, yes, it should have an impact on the story/character (if the death is of a character's ally). i never usually like the unnecessary deaths, or people coming back from the dead/"i thought you were dead" scenario. funny deaths can work in a more comedic story, or a parody/crack-fic because, well, it's supposed to be funny. then again, some comedies add a sense of sadness toward the death of a character in their writing, but still keep a laughable element.

    i think all stories SHOULD have some sort of important death scene, but then again that's my opinion. a story can be good without any death, but maybe a fatal change in one of the character's physical/mental state.

    eh, i'm rambling now, but i do think you get my views and point here. :U

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    Reality is a dream TheLlama's Avatar
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    Default Re: Killing Off Characters

    Okay, Misheard, I see what you mean then ;)

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    Default Re: Killing Off Characters

    Quote Originally Posted by Lady Lucifer View Post
    mostly, i'm all about the main character sacrificing themselves in the end; a more tragic ending to a story than the usual "hero defeats villain, and it's all happily ever after" i prefer to veer away from that kind of cliche because it's overused and, in my opinion, doesn't make a good story. usually though, it is good if it's done correctly; i just prefer the main character dying and there being no hope of respite. i NEVER make a happy ending in my story, ha :P

    anyway, like what misheard whisper and llama_guy said, yes, it should have an impact on the story/character (if the death is of a character's ally). i never usually like the unnecessary deaths, or people coming back from the dead/"i thought you were dead" scenario. funny deaths can work in a more comedic story, or a parody/crack-fic because, well, it's supposed to be funny. then again, some comedies add a sense of sadness toward the death of a character in their writing, but still keep a laughable element.

    i think all stories SHOULD have some sort of important death scene, but then again that's my opinion. a story can be good without any death, but maybe a fatal change in one of the character's physical/mental state.

    eh, i'm rambling now, but i do think you get my views and point here. :U
    I disagree. Happy endings feel right (and less cliched) when the readers/viewers feel that the characters and story earned it truly. Or hell, you could end the story where it seems like everything is better but we don't see what happens next exactly. It's open ended while all loose ends are tied and we can interpret what happens in the future.

    I'm writing a Pokemon fanfic epic and a MLP:FiM/Sailor Moon mash-up fic that don't contain any death occurring in the story but it's mentioned and might be a part of a backstory or history. It's not really tragic in the sense of death but there's emotional turmoil that the characters run into and overcome.

    Honestly, I believe that it's okay to not kill any characters and have a happy ending. Or hell, there could be a death at the end yet there's still a happy ending. Like DBZ's Cell arc where Goku dies but the story ends on a high note still thanks to Cell's defeat and him being Okay with his current situation.

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    Default Re: Killing Off Characters

    Quote Originally Posted by matt0044 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Lady Lucifer View Post
    mostly, i'm all about the main character sacrificing themselves in the end; a more tragic ending to a story than the usual "hero defeats villain, and it's all happily ever after" i prefer to veer away from that kind of cliche because it's overused and, in my opinion, doesn't make a good story. usually though, it is good if it's done correctly; i just prefer the main character dying and there being no hope of respite. i NEVER make a happy ending in my story, ha :P

    anyway, like what misheard whisper and llama_guy said, yes, it should have an impact on the story/character (if the death is of a character's ally). i never usually like the unnecessary deaths, or people coming back from the dead/"i thought you were dead" scenario. funny deaths can work in a more comedic story, or a parody/crack-fic because, well, it's supposed to be funny. then again, some comedies add a sense of sadness toward the death of a character in their writing, but still keep a laughable element.

    i think all stories SHOULD have some sort of important death scene, but then again that's my opinion. a story can be good without any death, but maybe a fatal change in one of the character's physical/mental state.

    eh, i'm rambling now, but i do think you get my views and point here. :U
    I disagree. Happy endings feel right (and less cliched) when the readers/viewers feel that the characters and story earned it truly. Or hell, you could end the story where it seems like everything is better but we don't see what happens next exactly. It's open ended while all loose ends are tied and we can interpret what happens in the future.

    I'm writing a Pokemon fanfic epic and a MLP:FiM/Sailor Moon mash-up fic that don't contain any death occurring in the story but it's mentioned and might be a part of a backstory or history. It's not really tragic in the sense of death but there's emotional turmoil that the characters run into and overcome.

    Honestly, I believe that it's okay to not kill any characters and have a happy ending. Or hell, there could be a death at the end yet there's still a happy ending. Like DBZ's Cell arc where Goku dies but the story ends on a high note still thanks to Cell's defeat and him being Okay with his current situation.
    i think it's all based on personal opinion. like i said, a happy ending can be good, but i just think it's overused. i love some happy endings, trust me, but the ones i really like are the ones that keep you guessing and you have to base on the facts of the outcome and form your own kind of ending; just something the reader can figure out themselves.

    death can really fluctuate emotions; it's nice to have a death scene, but yet a happy note. whether it's the main character dying, or the villain dying, it can go both ways. i love stories that have a heartwarming death; sad but it's happy. still, i prefer to veer away from the happiness factor and make things more sad because i'm a depressing person like that xD. really, it all counts on your writing style and the opinions you have on the subject.

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    Default Re: Killing Off Characters

    Gosh, now I feel bad! Usually whenever I kill off a character, if they're part of the characters backstory (like my character Randys wife, Rosetta, who died in a car accident) they're killed off permanently, but they're a main character (like Eldrian, the Marowak from Treasure Town who is the brother of a Guildmaster in another town) they usually end up coming back to life somehow (Reviver Seed, "It's not your time to go yet!", someone heals them enc), unless they're villains like Lady Weavile or Magnet Man.

    I and my co-writer have a weird way with death. There's even been a time or two where we thought we should bring a charater back, but decided not to. Like the character Arthur in "Bugsy'"/Marcus' backstory, who was his mentor. He was originally going to be resurrected by the same wizard who killed him (he and "Bugsy" have become allies by the end; if not friends), and was going to be standing there with "Bugsy" in his part of the ending ("Bugsy" was recieving a medal for bravery), but we decided not to because "Bugsy" had grown stronger from Arthurs death and had grown in his character.

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    Default Re: Killing Off Characters

    ....I guess I've been doing it wrong all this time. Usually, if I kill off one of my characters, it's for no other reason than to punch the other characters and/or the reader in the gut. Also, in general, I don't like dramatic last words—the character just dies or is found dead. There are exceptions, but only when I deem them absolutely appropriate. Deaths of this kind may or may not be as "impactful" as the examples in the above posts, but they are realistic.

    Nor do I usually bring characters back, unless it's part of a huge plot twist. Usually, when that happens, I retcon the actual "death" to have been faked in some way, so no actual "resurrection" occurs, or else the "resurrected" character is really an impostor or illusion of some kind.

    And in my stories, anyone can die. I am not above killing off the main protagonist in the middle of the story, passing his mantle onto another member of the party, and then having the bad guy win anyway.

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    Default Re: Killing Off Characters

    Quote Originally Posted by Lady Lucifer View Post
    i think it's all based on personal opinion. like i said, a happy ending can be good, but i just think it's overused. i love some happy endings, trust me, but the ones i really like are the ones that keep you guessing and you have to base on the facts of the outcome and form your own kind of ending; just something the reader can figure out themselves.
    I mention that, didn't I?

    death can really fluctuate emotions; it's nice to have a death scene, but yet a happy note. whether it's the main character dying, or the villain dying, it can go both ways. i love stories that have a heartwarming death; sad but it's happy. still, i prefer to veer away from the happiness factor and make things more sad because i'm a depressing person like that xD. really, it all counts on your writing style and the opinions you have on the subject.
    As much as I like Higurashi and horror stories that interest me, I tend to like epic stories that are balanced in both dark and light tones. They're not overly happy like the Pokemon Anime but they're not overly depressing like Evangelion (as if). Sorta like Robotech where people die but it's never too depressing and even has a good feel of triumph. Besides, it's the little things that counts so ever if they're a happy ending the stuff before were entertaining enough and the happy ending is actually fitting.

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    Registered User Shadow Victini's Avatar
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    Default Re: Killing Off Characters

    I use character death in many different ways. Like in a certain Animal Crossing story I'm writing where there's significant character death. For example, the first death, Clark's, kicks off the story. He had very little connections with the main characters, but he was, as revealed later, one of the leaders for the 'Animal Crossings' society. The second and third deaths of April and Nami happen in the middle, and it brings up both character development, as April and Nami had the other characters who were very close to them, and it starts the hunt for the mysterious killer and their motive. The death of Sherles and the attempted killing of Ella are near the climax- Sherles not only found information on the killer (although he didn't know she was the killer when writing the notes, he was merely writing about the history of Edenwood, Sophian, Roseglen, Zenville and Animal City) but he was also the leader of the Society, the group that split from the Animal Crossings group many years prior. It's hinted that Ella knew information, but because she was now an amnesiac she had no memory whatsoever of anything, really.

    Of course, these characters don't stay dead, not because they were resurrected but because all the human characters (Lila, Mayflower, April, Derrick, Ella, Mana, Hope, Sherles, Naro, Nami and Clark respectively) all came from our world. The aforementioned people died in the Crossing universe but that only meant they could no longer live in that one; however, the main villain is trying to kill all the humans in the AC world permanently so a: She can keep her immortality as protector of the 4 towns and city and b: So both universes don't get nearly destroyed as they were so long ago.
    It doesn't help that the villain is human as well, either. :p

    Yeah, that basically explains my views/general usage on character death.
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    Default Re: Killing Off Characters

    Unless I've missed something, it looks like everyone else has talked about character deaths in terms of 'why'. That's an important discussion to have, of course; a death should be appropriate. However, I get the impression that actually writing the death scene is what Pyradox was asking after. I could be wrong, just the impression I got.

    It's been a while since I last wrote a death scene, but for what it's worth, here're some of my thoughts:

    One thing I believe quite strongly about death scenes is that they should not be over-dramatised. It's very easy to do, it's practically the norm in less sophisticated literature. What I mean by this is don't drag it out with long, meaningful conversation and tearful farewells and, just as importantly, don't have other characters angst about it too much. Don't misunderstand me, it's good to have sadness and regret. I merely suggest that overdoing it can lessen the poignancy.

    Additionally, there's an element of realism to consider. Unless it's justified, deaths are rarely very slow, for example. If someone's dying of a stomach wound, sure, they'll spend quite some time in agony before they die, but in most cases, the character will be gone in moments. It's good to research these things.

    This point applies to many areas of fiction, but death in particular; try to make it distinct. Death has been written about, in all forms of literature, literally millions of time. I'm being sincere here: millions. Do not regurgitate the obvious things. Writing a unique, memorable death hinges on the character and their experience, not the death itself. It is better to write about the character's fears, regrets or their legacy than to write about the pain, or the tears, or - goodness forbid - the bright light. Such things are as old as dirt and as cliche as conflict.

    I hope I've been of some help~

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