I discovered something the other day which I’m not sure whether to find weirdly amusing or concerning. As an experiment, next time you’re with a group of authors, ask for a show of hands as to how many are currently writing scenes that involve characters being killed, killing, or enacting general mayhem in some way. I think it was Steven King that said "kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” I just didn’t realise so many authors had taken it to heart.
In fact, lets have a poll here for “fun” just because I’m kind of interested.
Question: Are you currently writing something as described in the paragraph above? e.g. Involving the death of characters in any way shape or form
I am frankly of the opinion that I am too reluctant to kill characters. It makes danger feel a bit hollow if everyone always gets through fine. There needs to be the occasional irrecoverable loss if the reader is to feel like an action carries any risk. It can be a character loses an eye and so they wear an eyepatch for a significant length of time and they can’t do something they’d do if they had depth perception. And death only counts if the character stays dead until someone goes and mugs Charon to steal his boat and rescues them from Hades. Though it still counts as dead even if Charon will carry letters back and forth.
If, on the other hand, your character has phoenix powers so they’re dead for two minutes and then are reborn in fire the readers aren’t going to take their deaths seriously no matter how hard you try to make them. I use this example because it is an actual character in Touhou named Moku. She dies a lot because she just goes around and eats strange mushrooms that look tasty because if it turns out to be the Destroying Angel she’s sick for a few hours and then she dies and then ten seconds later she is all better. People going to meet Moku are strongly warned to not eat her cooking.
In Crème de la Crème the current dangerous consequences are injuries and social ostracism, but in Blood Money you can kill a lot of the major characters if you so desire. It’s fun to make characters’ lives drama-filled!
No one is safe. I start thinking about how my characters are going to die about the time I’m trying to name them.
All those deaths don’t make it into the story, of course, but in just about every story I’ve ever written somebody important dies. For the CS story I’m working on I’m trying to make it so that the player will have some influence over who dies, but I don’t think it will be possible to save everyone.
That picture in the top post reminded me of something else George Martin said. I’m paraphrasing, but it was something like, “Everytime some one asks me when the next book will be out, I kill another Stark.”
I personally enjoy stories where a lot of main character’s die (makes the story more unpredictable) so I have a tendency to kill off at least one MC in most of my stories.
That said, I usually either get too attached to an MC to kill them off, or the character’s essential to the plot later on, so I can’t kill them off until the end. To counter this, I find myself “pulling a George R.R. Martin” and creating main characters for the sole purpose of killing them off… Anybody else do this?