Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Emotional Connections

I recently got asked a very interesting question - how do I feel when I kill off one of my characters?  Stephen King once said you have to kill your darlings, and he's right(to an extent).  The unexpected death of a major character can throw an entire story off balance and keep the reader guessing.  It creates tension, and, hopefully, an emotional reaction from readers.  But how does it make the writer feel?

I've had mixed emotions over characters and honestly haven't killed off too many of them, or at least not the ones I liked.  Only twice have I killed a character I really cared about, and in one of those instances, the character changed to the point where it didn't affect me.  However, there was once I've killed a major character and wondered if I did the right thing.

The novel in question is in need of a re-write, but the character I'm thinking of still has to die.  It saddens me because this person was instrumental in the story and provided the impetus behind the main character's drive.  Unfortunately, the story gets stuck if this person stays alive, and despite the time I've invested in the character, death is necessary.

I'll be honest - I don't know that it affected me on an emotional level.  I think where I felt it most was when I thought about the story and this person's involvement in it, but the death wasn't something I dwelled on.  I went back and forth over how to move the plot along, and the character's death seemed to be what had to happen, but it caused me no great discomfort.  Does that make me a bad person?

Of course, I haven't had to kill off a character that I really liked yet either.  Perhaps that's because most of my stories only have one or two points of view.  Killing off the main POV character would halt the story entirely, so it's not feasible.  Maybe I should make it feasible and see what happens(in some future novel).  Could I do it?  I don't know...

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