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too attached to your characters?

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Postby aldan » Sat Jul 29, 2006 4:02 am

Myself, I think that you can write a novel that ends without the major characters dying. The main thing is that what happens in the novel MUST NOT not affect the character emotionally. For example, if the main character, who is just a normal person, comes upon the results of a battle (bodies and body parts rotting on the ground, perhaps a medical facility in which a lot of people who are now missing body parts are housed, and other things like that), should be emotionally affected, and strongly so, even if he's never known the people there, because of what is called 'shock' and 'rage' and 'nausea' and other such things. Nightmares wouldn't be a surprise for a character who has seen such things to experience, but most authors don't really do such. It seems as though if a character has a dream, it is prophecy. If he/she doesn't have a prophetic dream, then he/she does not dream, so nightmares would be an understandable result of such sights.

Now, how about a person who has actually experienced battle? What will that person's reaction to it be after seeing the results of it, especially if he sees someone he knows killed or crippled in the battle, how will it affect him? Then, after the final trial of the spirit of the MC, whatever sort it might be, at the end of the novel, what will the results be? Some might have nightmares for years, others become depressed and cannot handle it, still others end up becoming negatively affected by the bad feelings caused by the tough experience, and so end up becoming something they'd have hated at the story's beginning. Still others might suicide because of dreams and depression. There are, too, many, many more results that you should be able to come up with that won't require having a majority of the characters be slain.
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Tough guys dont dance but...

Postby epicfantasy7 » Fri Aug 25, 2006 8:16 am

I generally don't get too attached to my characters but I get attached to my stories (which is what happens to my characters). And I guess in a round about way this is an attachment to the characters. It's kind of like Romeo and Juliet. I don't feel a particular attachment to either of the characters but I do get a very strong emotional response from the tragedy of the story.

As far as killing off a character - I say that it's your story. You get the right to do whatever you want to do. You want your character to slip on a banana peel and drown in a vat of chocolate? Then be resurrected as the god of sweet-toothedness? Go right ahead and make it work ! :)
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Postby Mikira » Fri Aug 25, 2006 9:21 am

I'm going to jump into to the water. I feel you need to be attached to both your good and evil characters, so your readers will be attached to them.

With that said. I feel the study of great death scenes such as: JRR Tolkiens killing off of (Damn I hate when that happens, I can't remember the characters name, but I can remember the actor's name who played him in the movie. Sean Bean) that whole scene was incredible. I haven't read the books yet, but I hope when I read that scene I can still sense the incredible strength of character and determination he had to save Merrie and Pipin from being taken by the Orcs. I think you get where I'm coming from. I feel a hero (Even one who wanted the ring for himself) needs to die heroically or your readers will feel cheated.
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Great scene

Postby epicfantasy7 » Fri Aug 25, 2006 12:50 pm

That was Boromir :)
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Postby Dunedain » Sat Aug 26, 2006 3:23 pm

I've shed tears while killing off characters before. Oddly enough, that's how I know I'm doing the story correctly. If I kill off a good character in a story without pausing to reflect or feeling anything I usually scrap the story entirely. If I can't even affect myself with a story I'm writing, how can I expect it to affect anyone else?

Also, in response to the question "Why kill them off? I have to say that it is necessary at times. Some of my favorite works are those that made me weep openly and I ask myself, would they be one of my favorites if they hadn't?
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Postby Scriven » Fri Dec 29, 2006 12:43 pm

I thought this piece from Brian K Vaughan was interesting. In a recent interview asked about a death of a character he said this:

"I always said Gert was my favorite Character from Runaways, and I couldn't imagine the team functioning without her. That's sort of when I knew she had to go.

"You can't have that. You need to challenge your teams and push them forward and you can't become too reliant on just one character.It has to be an ensemble and I knew Gert's sacrifice would hurt me -- it'd hurt me to lose a character I love to write -- but it would help the book."
Last edited by Scriven on Fri Dec 29, 2006 4:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Bmat » Fri Dec 29, 2006 12:53 pm

This is off topic, but Scriven has posted a story that hasn't gotten the attention that it should have. Also, Scriven has contributed a number of posts at SV. So if someone has some time, you may be interested in reading the story.

http://speculativevision.com/forums/vie ... 0470#80470
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Postby NeoScribe » Fri Dec 29, 2006 2:14 pm

Off Topic: Read the story, thought it was awsome. Reminds me of Resident Evil and War of the Worlds. I never read the stories on the forums so that was the first story I ever looked through.

Again Off Topic: I hadn't even noticed Gert had died until Molly mentioned her and Chase gave her a withering stare. But then, I never liked Gert. And this probably explains why Alex was the traitor in the 1st series.
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Re: too attached to your characters?

Postby lovesaphira » Fri Mar 13, 2009 8:11 pm

lol, this is an interesting question for me. I am always attached to my characters. I spend ages coming up with and writing about their backgrounds, their personalities, everything.
The problem is, in pretty much all the stories i come up with a character dies. And not just a random character either. An almost main character that readers like.
Yes I'm a horribly cruel person for killing off my supporting main characters but here;s my reasoning. If the reader doesn't feel for the death of the character then the death is pointless. I always think that i want the readers of my stories to cry or get teary when a character dies and so i tend to go for central characters. I was at one point even considering killing off my protagonist but i thought that was too mean and decided against it. lol.'
But yes. When it comes to writing the deaths of my characters it will be very hard.
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Re: too attached to your characters?

Postby Grand Evander » Thu Mar 26, 2009 10:21 pm

Writing deaths... a topic I'm sure a lot of us can relate to. That so many people have shared their insight on this topic is a testament to that.

For me, a death invokes more than just sadness when it is earned. I usually wait until a character's progression in the story is complete before killing him or her. I feel sad that I've lost someone to write about in the future but at the same time I feel pride that I've taken that character to the point where I'm comfortable letting him or her die. It often represents the resolution of that character's arc.

Like you, lovesaphira, I don't believe in strawman deaths aimed to pull in vain on the reader's heart strings. A death, to me, should be as painful to write as it is to read. I completely agree with Dunedain's early post in that respect. In my WIP, I actually kill a character in chapter 2 that I have time and again regretted, but her place in the story is as a memory that my m.c. constantly returns to for both comfort and guidance. I would not recommend killing you're protagonist, though, if you're ultimate goal is publication, especially if you're planning a series. From what I've read, this is a typical red flag for agents/publishers to put down the story.

Ultimately, killing a character is killing a friend. It's a voice in your head you're choosing to silence and, as such, I believe it should be approached with the utmost prudence and consideration.

Submitted for your review,

GE
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Re: too attached to your characters?

Postby lovesaphira » Fri Mar 27, 2009 12:23 am

LOL i'm not going to kill of my protagonist anymore. That idea came when i was young and naive. lol. Besides as much as i like writing deaths, i like writing happy endings as well and it can't be happy if my protagonist dies, hehe.
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Re: too attached to your characters?

Postby Grand Evander » Fri Mar 27, 2009 5:53 pm

Well, let me qualify my previous statement a bit. Killing the protagonist(s) can be problematic for a few practical reasons:

1. When someone reads a story, they typically become emotionally invested in the protagonists. This is one of the reasons that person reads the story... hence why writers will get criticized for unsympathetic protagonists (along the lines of why should I read?). If you kill off these characters, you're essentially nullifying or providing a poor return to this investment. This might alienate readers who rooted for these characters only to discover they die. I've heard it referred to colloquially as "giving your readers the middle finger" if I may be crass.

2. From the perspective of writing a series, killing off your protagonists makes it hard to maintain your readership for the next installation. You've already killed off your characters once, what's to lead them to believe you won't do it again and leave them frustrated. You've also undid a lot of the effort of building a readership from the first installations because you now have to begin the process of getting the reader invested all over again.

3. Finishing on a death can be rather anticlimatic and it can be hard to bring about closure to the story.

I'm sure people will disagree with me. These are just my observations.

Submitted for your review,

GE
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