Should I kill my character? I’ve seen this question a lot lately and even a writing prompt about killing a character. We all know authors who do it. Some are even our favourite authors. Some authors do it A LOT. (I’m looking at you George R. R. Martin)
Should only the bad guys die? Should your beloved protagonist die to motivate the other characters? I’ve given this considerable thought, here’s my take.
No not only the bad guy should die and yes sometimes the protagonist should die to motivate the other characters to action. Some of you are screaming as you read this, but wait there’s a catch.
Every death no matter how big or how small should provide a pay off for your reader. After all they are the voyeur in your characters lives. As an author everything we do we do for them.
So don’t just kill your character for the sake of it. Think not only what it does to the other characters in the story, but also the pay off for your reader. Every death should be satisfying in some way.
Recently a very good friend of mine passed away. it was sudden and tragic and far too soon. That was back in June. Last week I went to a visitation for another friends father. Obviously he was much older than my friend who’d passed away in a car accident but his passing was no less painful.
The visitation last week involved Catholic prayer and was entirely in Croatian. I’m not Catholic and I’m not Croatian, but as I sat there listening to the words I didn’t understand about a religion I know little about it dawned on me. Grief is universal it doesn’t matter what language it speaks or what religion you wrap it in.
It looks the same, smells the same. and tears through you in exactly the same way. With gut wrenching relentlessness that never stops and never tires.
Grief never goes away. There are many flavours, several shades. It never fades. It is only our perception that changes. It’s our ability to adapt to loss. to grow accustomed to absence. It is only our sheer will that pulls us through each day as we fight not to be swallowed whole.
It is why we often fear death and hate change. One day grief will knock for us all and we’ll have no choice but to answer to the universal call.