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Old May 23 2009, 08:04 AM   #34
Kaelar of Kolmar
Lanen's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Body in Scotland, head in Kolmar
Gender: F
Fan of: The Ship Who Sang
Now Reading: Winds of Change and Shaping
Default Re: Writing original fic, killing of characters

I realise this doesn't apply in fan fiction (which I don't write), but in original fiction, I have always thought that if you're going to kill off a major character, give them a decent way out. Remember the death of Sirius Black in the Harry Potter novels? He was there one second, gone the next. No build-up, just gone.

OK, I know that's what happens in real life, but I found myself feeling really cheated as I read. He was a major character, and this is not real life, it's a book. There are reasons why these conventions exist, and you are well likely to tick off your readers if you off a major character in what appears to be an offhand fashion.

That said - I have had to kill off a major character, and I still get mail from folk who were terribly upset. Which of course is great news, they were supposed to be terribly upset! As it happens, I had realised the moment one seemingly unconnected event took place, in the previous book, that this character was going to go. It would have been easier and 'safer' not to let him, but the bad guys had the drop on him and - well, unless your villains cause serious mayhem, including in this case the death of a loved character, you won't convince your audience that the baddies are anything to be worried about.

I'm a wimp, and I cried all through his death scene as I wrote it (and re- and re-re- and re-re-re-wrote it), but I was satisfied in the end that he had a good exit.

That which you do by act of will you must answer for.
-from Winds of Change and Shaping, by Elizabeth Kerner
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