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Killing off your characters

Discussion in 'Small Talk' started by Carmen Lopez, Jul 2, 2010.

  1. Thought this was the best place to put this.

    So, 'Charms has a fair few writers here and I've read plenty of their fics. But something occured to me as I was writing my own fic: How do you feel about killing your characters (or a character's Pokemon if it's Pokemon fanfiction)? Or, what do you feel when you do?

    Personally I've never done it because I could never bring myself to. I've definitely thought about it, but something in me won't let me--not yet anyway. I guess it's because I feel connected to my characters that it would be like killing off a piece of me. And by the way, there are two types of killing off: the killing off of minor character, and then killing characters that you've really developed and had a very prominent role in your story.

    So what are you thoughts? And here's hoping people don't think I'm nuts after reading this lol
  2. KoL

    KoL Expert FPS Player
    Staff Member Moderator

    Although I'm no writer or author (due to lack of interest more than lack of ability) It is an interesting topic nonetheless.

    For me personally, it'd depend on the character. Some people may end up developing characters in such a way that they don't end up liking a particluar character or feeling a connection with them, but instead disliking or even hating the character for their actions and personality, whether the character be a nihilistic murderer who kills innocent people for no reason, generally acts like a complete asshole with no redeeming traits notable in their personality, or even a combination of the two. I daresay an author would probably enjoy to write out that character's demise if they feel they deserve it, even though the character they are killing off is in fact their own creation. I know I myself tend to prefer evil characters to good characters, since the evil ones tend to be more complex, but there's still a fair few characters I love to hate just because they're THAT nasty (Porky Minch.)

    As for good characters, I'd honestly have no problem in killing them off simply because I prefer the bad guys - the good guys always win, the villains deserve some time to shine, and it's no fun if it's just the bad guys getting wasted. That said, I'd also want to make villains so evil that I'd love to see them die as well, so...I guess I'd just end up killing off everyone and hurling everything to the Void if I ever wrote anything.

    ...I guess that's another good reason why I avoid writing. :p
  3. I think that it's important (in certain types of stories) to at least cultivate the feeling that any character could die. The main character dying would be really unlikely, since that would mean the end of the story, but a sense of genuine peril helps to make your villains actually threatening instead of boring. If you're writing about a big war, it is likely that some of your characters will die. Some authors go to ludicrous lengths to keep their cast intact (I love Naruto but oh my goodness), and it's nice that no one's favorite character eats it, but at the same time it kind of beggars belief.

    I haven't had the opportunity to kill off many of my characters, but I will if the plot demands it.
  4. I feel like killing characters is sometimes a necessary evil. In life, death is simply unavoidable. Why should that be any different in a story?

    That being said, when I began my Nuzlocke...I had to stop. "Killing" them via release was just too hard for me...and it was only my Wingull!

    Getting some sort of an emotional attachment to your characters adds a great element to your story. It makes everything more real. But death, which inevitably comes to everyone can also add something to the story, if done well. In seventh grade we wrote science-fiction short stories, and I killed one of the major characters. Now, I wasn't particularly attached to any of them, so it wasn't too difficult, but it wasn't very easy, either.

    This probably isn't too much help.
  5. Psycho Monkey

    Psycho Monkey Member of the Literary Elite Four

    Speaking from experience since I actually have killed off a character (for spoilers sake no name will be given to those who haven't read), it is an interesting sensation.

    Since it was something I had been planning from before the start of the story, I was feeling a lot of anticipation and excitement that I had finally reached that moment. The scene seemed to last forever since the whole time I was typing it, my body was trembling. Let me tell you, it's not easy to type when your hands are shaking. Since the story is from the main character's first person view I had to get into character with all the grief, sorrow, anger, etc. to make that person's reaction to the death of someone important to them believable. When I finished that scene I felt both accomplished as well as a sense of "Did I just really do that?"

    In other words, it was a somewhat awkward moment but a necessary one for future character development and to move the plot along. You know you've done a great job in both developing that deceased character and working the death scene when several of your fans comment that they cried after reading. It's a natural response, but I think it helps knowing that these are just fictional people and that you really aren't murdering someone.

    So Carmen, kill your character off if it will help move the plot and/or develop survivors, but most importantly if you're ready for it. Sure death in real life is sudden and no one is ever truly prepared for it, but as the writer it has to be something you're willing to go through with at that very moment.
  6. Yoshimitsu

    Former Moderator

    All my characters have Jack-in-the-Box coffins.
  7. Sem

    Sem The Last of the Snowmen
    Former Administrator

    [spoiler="Without Love" (Sem's fanfic which he totally shouldn't be spoiling >=O)]Tara was originally meant to actually be dead. Loooooooooooooooool. Contrived plot devices ftw. To be fair, Muku stayed dead. =( I miss him.[/spoiler]

    So, obviously, I'm not against killing characters. I don't think it's necessary, because it really depends on what kind of story you're writing as well. If the story calls for it, then yes, do mow down a character. Of course, even if the story doesn't call for it can work as well. Drop in a character death on a story and it can be very moving for people especially attached to that character. Anything that invokes any kind of emotional response brings the reader in, which is good.
    #7 Sem, Jul 2, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 19, 2013
  8. I plan on killing off a Pokemon or two in my fic, 'All That for a Mantyke?!', but no humans. This is because my main character set is fairly small. However, I'm not against it.
  9. I think that if you've always planned a character to die from the very beginning, you wouldnlt feel so guilty about it. It's like Cody says, some deaths are necessary to develop the characters that get left behind. If someone were to die without any real need to, that's be pretty heartless, I think. On the other hand, killing off a character because he/she is useless can sometimes be necessary if he/she is just an obstacle for development. Still, actually evolving and changing the character is a more tedious, but less morbid solution.

    I have killed off characters in the past, mostly villains. I do get conlficted sometimes about whether or not that villain should take down a friend before he/she himself/herself bites the dust. But so long as something good can come out of that death, than its a sacrifice one should be willing to make. Otherwise, keep the character around. You might discover a new plot twist that you can use with the character.
  10. Well, I'm not against killing of characters (no spoilers, so it'll sound vague) but I think that it really depends on the cast. The only characters I have killed off tend to be characters who aren't really "main characters" but are slightly more important than "minor characters" if you understand my meaning. Like, in a series of fics, characters who are only important to one fic in the series sorta thing.

    I do feel terrible about it though, but when I write I try and let the characters just happen. Before you call the men in white coats and accuse me of being insane or a drug addict or something let me explain: every character that I create I treat as a living, breathing entity within my own mind. When I'm writing something and before I know it I have a whole scene of dialogue between two characters and I have one do something that I didn't originally plan, it makes me happy because it's the character becoming "real" in a sense because things happen based on their personalities and characteristics. So, if a villain is particularly malicious and heartless, then it is perfectly conceivable that they kill off a character, especially if it can accomplish multiple things at one time, such as: capturing the reader's attention, stirring up a response, giving the main character more of a "drive." Things like that. Though the decision is never easy, I'll often sit staring at the sentence/paragraph deciding whether or not to change it for a long while. I grow attached to my characters quite easily.

    With villains, however, it's a bit different. A lot of the time, I'll catch myself calling my own villain a douche, and explaining that something happened in the story because of him rather than something that I did, only to be reminded that I wrote his actions down. Thing is, as much as I'd love to see the villain get their comeuppance, I'd hate to write their deaths too. Though, it'd be easier to write than the death of a "hero", it's still a character that I have created (whether they be an ass or not).

    Of course, the exception to this is when I've had the death planned from the beginning or when I know that it's necessary to continue the plot and characters moving where I want them to be and developing the way I want them to. Other than those times, however, I do find it difficult.
  11. Oh my stars and garters it is my DREAM to kill off a character.

    ...That maaaay sound a bit off-kilter but that's okay ♥ I probably sounded terrible for saying it, but I think killing off a character would be fun~! Sure, you lose the thing forever, but I think it would be so much fun describing the death in some dramatic manner, and having people be all sad about it while I can giggle at them in...a suitable adverb here, fashion! If I can ever sit down and develop a character, I will plan on their death and make it sound so peachy keen. Unfortunately, I don't ever have the drive. Accursed me.

    So, in general, I think it would be super fun to kill off my character! I mean, it's not like a crime or anything, so why not~ ♥
  12. Yoshimitsu

    Former Moderator

    Yoshi's died twice.
  13. Well, each character - villain or not - is part of me. Sure, I don't always like my villains at first (go figure), but even they grow on me. However, in anything I write, it's necessary for someone or something to die at some point. The point is to make each character death worth it, be it pokemon or not. Some people particularly like reading about the villains rather than the heroes. So, having an epic death for one on the 'good guys' side and having an extremely cheesy death for the 'bad guys' side wouldn't make anyone very happy. To get entirely back on subject, though; I know I'm going to have to kill some of my characters at some point, but it's getting to the point where I myself am ready for it. Killing a character off before then will just dampen the overall writing quality, thus taking a toll on how good the death itself is. All in all, I'm not overly against it, and I know a lot of characters will have to die in my novel.
  14. Rex

    Rex Resident Furry

    None of you have ever seen this (because I don't post it here), but I've killed off a lot of my characters, and multiple ones on a whim. I very nearly killed and replaced my most important character of Pokemon stories, but changed my mind at the last second. Otherwise, lots of heros and a few villains have died in the back story for several of my characters. In the non-Pokemon fic side of it, characters are more plentiful, and therefore much more expendable. I have lead people to think I killed one only to bring him back later, but everyone else has stayed dead.
  15. Linkachu

    Linkachu Hero of Pizza
    Staff Member Administrator

    Admittedly, I have a bit of a Joss Whedon complex (and had it before watching his TV series', so nyaa~). I rather enjoy the idea of building up characters over a long period of time, making people develop deep loves for them, and then killing them off in a horrific way. To me, the potential such a death can have on the surviving characters is endless. Death isn't an easy thing for anyone to handle nor should it be (may it be fictionally or non-fictionally), so it gives a writer many new opportunities to explore if handled properly.

    That said, I'm extremely private about my writing. My most meaningful character deaths will probably never be read by anyone but myself, and another that stands strongly in my mind has been lost to time. While the latter character death was planned from the start, the others were definitely not. Such a plot element was actually only developed within the last 4 months, while I've been working on the story itself for years now. I'm still rocky on the decision because it's so final - at least, it should be. Sure you can pull some contrived plot devices to revive your characters (which I very well might do considering their plotline...), but usually it just cheapens the overall impact their death caused. At the very least, people need time to let the death sink in.

    Many have already stated it, but I think deaths are a necessary plot device just like everything else. The key, as I see it, is not to overuse or abuse it unless it makes sense. If your characters are in the middle of a bloody war of course you'll expect to see some death, but a random 'splosion out of nowhere'd that kills off half of 'em? Err... Nah. That's usually just the author being lazy and uncreative, unless they do a REALLY good job developing the remaining characters afterwards. Thankfully it doesn't happen much in the books I like to read. :p
  16. OMG I love killing off characters. However, lemme go into detail before people think I'm rather sadistic.

    Okay, I am sort of like Patricia Cornwell when I write something. I build up characters so people either grow closely to them and like them, or spit in their faces and hate that character. I like building a good plotline, then backstory for that character, then making their death rather memorable or something like that. Like, in my recent fic, I made a character likeable, and I killed him off while staring at his friend right in the eyes, his best friend, as he was frozen to death when his friend could do nothing for him. Yeah, sounds bad, but try reading it and maybe you'll understand.

    However, it is not my dream to kill of characters, and I do not go around thinking about how I'm going to kill this and that person, unless they're death is coming up soon...

    So, in all answers worth, no, I don't ENJOY killing off my characters, but I try to make the deaths symbolic when I have to...

    Yes, time for some miserable advertising!

    Fictionpress: Naruruler12
    Fanfiction: Naruruler12
  17. I have to say, I've killed off quite a few characters before. For instance:

    Minor chars: Evil Villains. If you have sagas in your little "epic" like I do, then you'll have multiple villains. Therefore, when your character defeats them, you have to move on (unless they come back.). Another is actually a pokemon I let go from one of my teams. I had an original Umbreon for one of my main chars: Keel. However, I kinda liked the shiny version better, so I killed off old Umbreon for Shiny Umbreon. I also makes sense, like if your character tends to have a mean attitude, you wouldn't expect him to be friends with nuthen, so I deepened his and S. Umbreon's connection deeper by killing off old Umbreon.

    Major chars.: Yes. This too. I did have a girl that was supposed to be one of my chars. girlfriend, but it was too hard remembering her pokemon, plus she was so little involved in the story that I just got rid of her and pretended she never existed. But some its more difficult. Like another char. of mine, Rai, who was a villain, died after becoming good again, but died so he could rectify mistakes. That actually put a dent in my brain, as he was one of the most original characters I ever made, so I brought him back. But one that did die in another one was one for a Sonic-like fan-fic, which worked like a prelude to another story. I knew he was going to die, so I tried to make him and his freind more likable. Unfortunately, I completely forgot that this was supposed to take place in a year's wirth of time, So I made him spend some quantity amount in another time, making 1 year seem more like 5. It hurt when I had to kill off 2 characters, because 1 was gonna die anyway, but the other was his love.

    Summary: Kinda hard for major chars., but kinda easy for minors.
  18. I do not kill my characters, but I am starting to change my mind. I'm currently writing a piece of original fiction, and I think that killing a character or two would make it interesting. Like, at least two majors, a fwe minors, a bunch of random people, and some villians. I approve, to an extent.
  19. Kerauno! I'm writing a new piece of Original Fiction as well! When it's up on Fictionpress, would you check it out? :D

    Yes, I will be killing of characters in it...But that is not my main goal.
  20. This is probably the reason why I can never finish stories or make story ideas into actual stories. For most situations, I just have a general idea and go with the flow. However, whenever I come up with original fiction pieces of any form, I always plan out every little detail and I really get into it as it expands. There will be characters I come up with that I'm absolutely in love with, and others that I really want to kill and then make me realize that I am the one that created them. Then when that's all done, I think of which characters die. However, whenever I get up to the part where they're going to die, after the death scene, I lose interest. By then, I'll either stop writing the story completely or skip to a certain point in time.

    In all, I'm not fond of killing off characters unless I hated them in the first place. However, I've killed off a lot of my favorite OCs, so it's funny how that works out.
  21. Of course! Will you read mine too? No one dies until... Chapter five, so bear with me! I'll have it up tomorrow.
  22. Well, in my opinion, character death can be good for the story and a well-written plot device. I mean, sometimes when I've read character deaths in stories sometimes I've cheered and sometimes I was nearly in tears because just about every character I grow attached to in a story ends up dying. True fact. And that plot device thing, I remember in the 7th Harry Potter book when Snape died, he had been one of my most hated characters, but when Harry went through his memories my opinion turned right around and I ended up loving the bastard and feeling so sorry for him; and those memories set up the next plot device as well.

    As for character death for my OWN characters...I hardly ever kill off a character of mine. And if I ever do there's a very good chance they end up coming back to life. It's just...Chadwyck put it far better than I could:

    That's pretty much how I feel. I mean, I love all of my characters, even the evil little bastards who I would gladly beat to death with a crowbar. I still love em. Whenever I write a character, I always put some aspect of my personality into them, so I can write them easier, but when I have to kill them I'm always sad because it's like killing a part of myself. Like I said before, if I kill a character, I almost alwys end up bringing them back. I will kill off a minor character without too many problems as well.
  23. I think its ok to kill some of your character off. It often devolps some of your other characters. I also try to make the chacters i kill of do something bad so im not as connected to them.
  24. Dwayna DragonFire

    Dwayna DragonFire 2014 Little Cup Champion

    All of the characters I make are connected to me so if one of them dies is is a hard pressed thing for me to do to actually write it. Usually the ones who mean the most to me are generally described as immortal, but in one instance I actually did kill off my main character (ie. Dwayna Dragonfire) due to the mood I was currently experiencing. I have also killed off her parents, but that was for character development.

    If you are truly inspired to kill off a character like PM was, then go through with it. It might be hard and grueling, but in the end the reaction from the readers will be more than worth it. To invoke emotions through art and literature is the beauty of it.
  25. ._.
    I was about to start my own fanfic, and was just thinking about which characters were to die. Then I go here, and find this thread... I believe that killing off characters sometimes may even be necessary depending on the story, as many have said before me. I'm all for it.
  26. I just can't find the heart to kill off any of my characters, even the evil ones. Maybe they just disappear or whatnot before miraculously coming back, but never dying. Unless it really is necessary. But killing any of them kills me(not literally). But my bad guys don't die(yet. i hv someone in mind...), they just keep coming back to annoy the hero of the story. Plus its more fun.
    I think i only killed someone off once, but then he needed to get out and i kinda enjoyed devising the worst torture ever for him(it was a team rocket grunt, i think). I had a charmander mauling him and there was a mention of arteries flying about....yeah that was a fun one to write.
  27. It also depends on your type of story. if its pokemon i dont beleive its neccesary t kill your character but for a book on war i beleive it important.
  28. I've tried to do an RP in which I kill of a character, one that has emotional ties at that, but alas, it never lasted long enough for me to get to that part. But usually, no, I don't really enjoy killing characters off, especially ones that are entertaining to write. I just end up getting too emotionally attached to the characters, and don't want to see them be killed off. I might change my views as I begin to expand my horizons.
  29. I have an easy time doing this, to me its the plot calls for your death, your leaving or whatever it is that causes their removal from the story outside of flash backs, or talks about them from other characters.

    Good or Bad does not matter to me, I even kill off the main character of my own stories sometimes (although sometimes its just temporary but 20 chapters of them being dead is allot more then most stories. And in others they are dead for good.)

    Don't get me wrong I love all my characters and keep them in my stories by giving them shorts at times to just use them after their death but I am not afraid of killing them off.
  30. I'm not a big fan of killing of my characters for different reasons; Sometimes, when possible, I want to use them in another Rp, sometimes I'm just too emotionally attached.

    But mostly, I'm a sucker for happy ends.

    I am planning to let one of the characters in one of the Rp's here die, but only near the end. And no, I'm not going to tell anyone who it is.
  31. Killing characters is a troubling experience for me. I mean, I view my characters as people I built from the ground up. It's a lot more of an ordeal for the writer than for his readers. You know these characters as well as you know yourself (I mean, if you're doing it right) and it's difficult to watch yourself kill that person who you worked so hard at to make real. Even harder to watch their loved ones cry and scream in despair with their passing. But I suppose it's for the best, because, after all, if there are no tears in the writer, there will be no tears in the reader.

    Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to murder a tragic villain. >sob<
  32. I kill of characters just for the fun of it, and for nothing else. Oh, don't worry, I do it at strategic points in time of the story, so it doesn't seem like I'm being a heartless bastard about it(even though I am >>). I don't bring anyone back unless it's in some kind of universe where that kind of thing happens, but I will make a mention to someone via memory/flashback. The only other time you'll see one of my dead people is if it's a fic that I wrote after their death, but takes place beforehand. or I'll have them fake their death. Any of these works >=3

    Like with Troy, I had him succeed in his plans, immediately die, brought him back through Darkrai's powers, do what needed to be done, and killed him again. But I was very careful in how I led up to and ultimately killed him, as I am with all of my characters. I plan their deaths during their inception, so I can then plan for all I can have them do before they die a terrible death that they don't deserve~

    I don't feel anything when I kill someone off, but I make it my priority to make sure that the readers do. Coming off of my drama teachings, a play/movie is good when the audience can connect, because that's when they feel as the character does. So, it's my job to make that connection as early on as I can, and then really give the readers an emotional rollercoaster when the death occurs.

    I'm not a monster. I'm just ahead of the curve. :3
  33. I haven't done any writing here (past an RP before Charms went all splodey), but I do have characters that I write for on other boards.

    And, looking at them, I don't know if I could kill them off. I mean, they are all pieces of me, in a weird way. Some of them even embody some of the qualities I wish to have one day- whether it be inner strength, having a Blaziken, or generally being an awesome Forerunnner. Obivously, only the first one is possible. I digress. I guess I'm too deeply connected to my characters to nix them- and I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing XD~ For now, we'll just call it a thing.
  34. I actually meant to post in this again a while back XD

    I can't believe the range of responses this has gotten. Some people are fairly comfortable about killing off characters, and then some people are like me and SCT. I pretty much feel the same way as SCT btw. The vast majority of my characters have some aspect of me. Sometimes my characters are based on my own personality, my dreams, my worst nighmares, etc. I plan on killing off someone in the future, but it's going to take some careful writing and I'm going to have to seriously psyche myself up to avoid chickening out. Unless I do a fabulous job at it (or have a major personality shift), don't expect anyone else to die unless the character is ancient or something. ^^;

    Anyway, thanks for the insight that everyone gave and I look forward to seeing what more people will say ♥
  35. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    I'd never kill one of my charaters, unless they were a mary-sue, i just can't bring myself to do it :-\
  36. I've wrote a few fan fics before, pretty in depth details about the frontier guy (I forget his name) when he was catching the Regis (Regirock, Registeel, Regice), this was before Sinnoh region, but I guess I'm due for writing up Regigigas fan fic.

    I have made a lot of sprite comic series and I have absolutely no problem in killing my characters off for I have already done that before in numerous occasions. It's all part of a good story, right? ;)
  37. In my book on ww3 i plan on killing more than half my main characters but thats war so i guess its kind of needed. But I am killing them so i my surviving characters personalities are expanded
  38. Yes. I'd do it. I have big ideas for things I want to create out there.... I have created plots, and tons of characters, however, there are four that I feel a total kinship with. As Chadwyk said, I honestly do consider my characters to be real, living people inside my mind. It makes it all that more harder to kill them off. I do not plan to kill them off, my main four... I don't really have the heart.... most of the time.

    However, I agree to what someone said back there about building them up, giving them backstories, and making your watchers/players/readers understand and form an opinion on them, and then killing them off in a shocking way. I am going to do this, but instead of killing them, it'll only be NEAR DEATH.

    And so ends my rant.

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