Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Killing Off Your Characters

Killing Off Your Characters: How do you decide when it's time to kill off your characters?

www.FictionAddiction.net had a great forum topic on this subject (Read More... ). I decided to use my blog today to address it.

I'm a killer. I'll say it bravely and I let my readers know that I'll kill characters easily in a heartbeat when I feel that it would move the story forward or liven up the action.

Sex sells, but killing keeps them reading, LOL.

It's almost never planned. I think the only real plan I had to actually kill someone off before the book died was in His Substitute Wife... My Sister. I knew one of those sisters had to die and it was so many times I wanted to kill off the lead character so bad because I hated the way she was too.

My initial "taste" into murder started with Stone's Revenge. This was my second novel. In my first novel, Dreams of Reality, there was death, but it was justifiable killing. The bad guy and the bad girl dying is no big thing. Murder occured in SR, where I killed young siblings of the main female protagonist and of course the big thing about the book was that I was dealing with "the son of a serial killer." A lot of the backstory had to do with his father and I even went back to his grandfather to show that there was no reason as to why the male protagonist was killing. "The apple don't fall too far from the tree theory."

There have been novels I haven't killed characters. A lot of drama and love ensued. matter of fact after SR, I wrote Deceptive Nights and I didn't kill anyone. Almost, but didn't.

When I start a story I usually know my main protagonists will be at the bottom of the bucket, but killing anyone in the story as I introduce characters I really have no intentions all the time. Now in Sin's Iniquity the decision to kill off one of the main characters came at a time when I knew reality had to step into the romance right quick because it was become to fluffy and nice. I didn't want a nice story for Sinclaire. I wanted evil and hurt and pain for her. That's cruel to say, but I did even though she was genuinely nice person and didn't deserve it.

It's not that I have these intentions in real life. Really not. I've been killing mad but not enough to hurt anyone.

But I always say I'm bad on paper and good in life.

I'd love to hear your views on killing off your characters.

Sylvia Hubbard


The Unreal McCoy said...

I have a few rules that I follow when writing. One of them is the "Ellery Queen" rule which reads: When the action begins to slow down, kill somebody.

Killing is what murder mysteries are all about. In my first book, "The Unreal McCoy," most of the victims were either bad people or simply throw-away characters and as a result, my murderer didn't seem all that scary. When I began writing "Turn Left at September," I wanted a killer that would send shivers through the reader every time they saw his name.
Killers are defined by their victims; the more innocent the victim, the more vicious the killer seems. So... I invented some genuinely likeable characters, gave the reader time to identify with them, and then bumped them off.
As the book progressed I found myself with a few folks who didn't seem to fit into my ending so I murdered them too. (I love this job)
Another rule that I use is called, "The Lone Ranger" rule. The Lone Ranger was on radio, TV, and in the movies for close to fifty years. He had a reputation for being the toughest of the toughest but in all of those years and episodes, he never once killed anybody. In an attempt to relieve my protaganists of the moral burden of having taken a human life, I have always left the killing to others. That could always change though. (See: Ellery Queen rule)

Dennis Collins

Keeper of the Dead said...

As a Horror Writer and fan-proclaimed Keeper of the Dead. Killing is my business. Many times in my stories and well within my book Moi: French Confessions of an American Girl; published in Febuary 2008 by iuniverse.com. I have often killed the protagnist leaving the vampire, werewolf, or mummy to kill and kill again in some future squeal.

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