Wednesday, November 14, 2007
So You Killed a Character. Now What?
There come times when we have to kill off a character. I know it's hard, but swords slash, guns go off, bombs blow and a life ends.
First ,you cry. At least I do. I can't speak for those people who are callous and uncaring, but I cry like crazy. It's like losing a friend, especially when it's someone you like.
Second, you torture yourself with it for awhile to see how it feels. It feels awful. You're a horrible person! How could you do such an awful thing?
Third, you remember that movie "Stranger Than Fiction" and worry if you really killed off a real person! (Come on, it's a MOVIE of course you didn't. You don't have any special voodoo powers.
Fourth, you move on. You have to resolve the conflict and finish the book. The death moved the story forward. You had to do it. Someone had to die besides the bad guy. So he was a wonderful, sweet, good looking, loving character! Someone had to do the job, and he did it.
Well, the fourth one doesn't always happen, but you try. I bring all this up, because I just killed off not one, but two very likeable characters so that the plot could advance. One of them was old, he'd lived an exemplary life, he was going to die soon anyway. The other was young, full of life, in prime physical condition, had just fallen in love and found out his fiancee was going to have a baby. He was looking forward to marriage, fatherhood, building a long and happy life together.
Then I killed him. I feel like an assassin. I feel mean and callous and uncaring. Because of me, that woman is suffering. That baby will grow up without a father and his best friend is miserable. But I know that somehow they will soldier on without him and go on with their lives.
Maybe it will make me feel better to imagine his fiancee marrying someone else and finding a happy life with him. Perhaps I'll comfort myself knowing that, although the daughter didn't know her father, the man who raises her loves her as if she were his own child. And possibly, I can delight in the fact that his best friend will find out who is responsible for his death, and make him pay!
Yes, there are many things I can do to mollify myself. But I hope I don't have to kill off any more characters in this book, because I just used my last tissue.
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