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too attached to your characters?

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Postby Neurolanis » Fri Sep 16, 2005 10:18 pm

You have tremendous power over your characters, and with that comes responsibility. You should never sleep with your characters, and never invite them into your personal life. They need to understand that you are their writer, and the relationship ends there. Sometimes a character becomes emotionally attached, but you must keep your distance. Remind them that you are their writer, not their friend, and they usually will listen. If they do not then there must be a stronger barrier placed between you. You must refuse all contact, and simply write them and nothing more. If they begin stocking you then you must decide to abandon them all together, because by this point you are surely going mad, and these characters must be erased from your life.
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Postby Lou » Sat Sep 17, 2005 5:44 pm

I forgot a character once. It was a dog. I wrote pages and pages and then realised I hadn't mentioned it for ages, but I couldn't be bothered to go back and write it in so I just prtended it had sort of wandered off somewhere and everyone had been too busy to notice it. Or something.
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Postby Neurolanis » Sat Sep 17, 2005 8:44 pm

Yeah that can happen. Sometimes I forget to introduce a character that I want in the story until later than it should have been, and their entrance seems rather hasty.
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Postby Magus » Tue Oct 04, 2005 8:10 pm

Well, in cases like that you can go back during revisions and make sure he's included.
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Postby Mr_D » Mon Nov 28, 2005 6:20 am

I find I'm quite utilitarian in that respect I suppose. I find that when a character has outlived their usefulness then I either let them walk off into the sunset or if I feel their death will add something to the story I kill them off without mercy.

You've just got to remember never to introduce a character for the express purpose of killing them off for dramatic effect. They'll only end up shallow and transparent. The audience will be able to see it coming miles away. Instead a character's death should occur as a natural part of the story. This is where having a loose plan can help.

I also tend to write my characters with a very specific character arc, sometimes culminating in their death. I'm a big fan of the tragic hero archetypes so most of my characters tend to get bitter sweet send offs.
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Postby NeoScribe » Mon Jul 03, 2006 4:52 pm

I get upset when I kill a character (especially one who happened to be my first ever fully developed character who I took from a small half-formed story I stopped working on Just so she could live again in the big one.) but I counsel myself that the death means something, even if it wasn't a long dramatic, life-slowly-drains-away-collapses-another-characters-arms. And characters that have been there since the begining, will always pop up in references or memories by other characters.
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Postby eleika » Wed Jul 05, 2006 9:04 pm

If you do it right, sometimes the best thing you can do for your story is to kill a character off.
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Postby Grand Evander » Wed Jul 05, 2006 11:29 pm

I agree with you, eleika. Sometimes killing off a character adds a new dimension to either the remaining characters or resonates with the impact of the story itself. If it's a character that the writer obviously cherishes, then the death is all the more meaningful. I, for one, make it a point to never grant a character immunity from my writing scythe. My WIP is very character-driven for the first 11 chapters and, as such, I try to explicate the characters who will be on the stage for the remainder of the novel.

I have one character who grew up as a child with my main character, but my protagonist ages a lot more slowly than his companion. As a result, this character maintains the same dynamic he had with the protagonist as a child, but he's graying and has heart problems that he refuses to acknoweldge. In chapter 11, he actually dies of a heart attack trying to do more than he is able to during an attack (still refusing to accept that he has become an older man), while it never occurred to my protagonist that this could happen to his friend. I don't know if it's as meaningful as you were implying, eleika, but I hope it will have some impact.

Most of the characters in my work actually die, and the honor I give to them is how I kill them. In a different light, one can actually see those that die in my novel as being a lot better off than the characters that live (based on later events). I love my characters and nurture their arcs, but sometimes death is the best way to give meaning. What happens when they survive? Convalescence... the aftermath.

I sympathize with you, NeoScribe. One of my recent character deaths was actually completely unplanned. I was just walking one day and had a revelation: this character's going to redeem herself by dying. I regret giving up what I take so long to develop, but that's life... people die all the time after years of their own character development. I try to be realistic in my writing, and someone being cut down in their prime after having improved as a person probably does happen.
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Postby Dragonfleet » Thu Jul 06, 2006 1:07 am

Nothing wrong with killing a character off. Just give us readers enough time to get to know them to make it that more dramatic and meaningful. :)
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Postby Grand Evander » Thu Jul 06, 2006 1:20 am

I personally love the idea of killing off a character right after he realizes he must redeem himself but before he is given the opportunity. Nicolas Wolfwood from Trigun is a good example of this for me.
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Postby thegreentick » Sun Jul 16, 2006 8:33 pm

If I know a character is going to die, I make sure that I give special attention to writing short stories about their past so I can get to know them really well. Why? If I'm not upset about the death, any other character in the story who is upset won't be believed by the reader.
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Postby Grand Evander » Sun Jul 16, 2006 8:44 pm

I agree that characters who are going to die in a story should have their development accelerated a bit to ensure the reader has enough time to develop an emotional connection with that character. I always hate when authors just over-dramatize a character's death to try to force an emotional reaction.

A writer should have emotional attachments to his/her characters, I believe. The more we want our characters to be real the more real they will appear in the story.
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