Saturday, February 5, 2011

When someone has to die

For the author, this is a really, really hard moment. I believe that no one should die unless it is critical to the development of the plot and/or the development of the main character(s). Knocking off someone just to 'tell' the reader not to get too close to anyone is just, well, cruel. Hedwig did not have to die at all in my humble opinion!

But, often we writers are faced with the necessary demise of a character we are truly fond of and, quite frankly, we DO waver at that point in our writing where we end it all for him or her. Why? Because we are human and these characters are as real to us as some of the people we know. Sometimes, they feel more real and special than the actual bodies which occupy our towns, streets.

I have been faced this week with the truth that I have to kill off a character who I adore. My eldest and one of the babes, in reaction to the foreseen event, reacted in such a way which gave me pause: maybe I should keep this character alive for longer. So I sent out a query to the babes and my agent and a couple of others who have vested interest in this trilogy. Should I keep [her/him] alive for longer?

The response was 50/50. Though they all adore the character whose demise we are discussing, as one responded: I think the fact that readers say they love [****] and will miss [her/him] doesn’t make a reason to keep [her/him]. [The character] has a dramatic part to play in the story – and that’s actually dying at a pivotal moment – if [he/she] stays on it has to be for more important reasons than not wanting to disappoint readers – ie. [he/she has something heroic to do, or worthy to do, or treacherous to do…

It occurred to me that ‘the story’s the thing’ and I have to do what must be done even though I will cry. I just wish I could make happy endings for every beloved character but I can’t. Tis life I guess.

So, above aforementioned character is, currently, having a chapter carefully constructed, which has [her/his] death at the critical moment. Wahhh!

For this story to go where it needs to go, this loved character has to die.

Sorry and I will weep when I finish writing the character’s demise but that is the way it should be.


jtwebster books said...

I know exactly how you feel. I had to make one of my beloved characters do something really really bad and I didn't want to do but the story demanded it. I was depressed for weeks!!

TK Roxborogh said...

Do you think, Sue, maybe this is how God feels? When he/she looks at the choices we make and sees the consequences? I am sure the God heart grieves too.

Who knew, eh, the power we had when we were chosen to be story tellers.

jtwebster books said...

Whoa! That hit me in the solar plexus! I'm sure you're right. God must feel that way.

Now that's something to dwell upon.