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too attached to your characters?

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Re: too attached to your characters?

Postby Qray » Wed Apr 01, 2009 1:22 pm

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


Even worse...it leads invarilably to the dreaded "prequel."

Having multiple strong leads can negate the effect diminishing a reader's emotional investment. Look at George R.R. Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire" series in which pretty much everybody dies. The effect of the deaths on the reader is somewhat diminished by the fact that there are so many protaganists.

I'm not against the deaths of lead charcters, but it needs to be planned, well written, and happen at the right time in the story. In the LOTR, the death of King Theoden at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields is well done and enhances the story. However, he's just a main character and not what can be considered the main protaganists (Frodo and Aragorn.)

In the Harry Potter series the death of Sirius Black was well done. The deaths of Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks were done poorly and as an after thought as Rowling let Ron Weasley live and felt "someone had to die."

It reminds me of the identity of the "Final Five" on the recent reimagined BSG. Their identities were decided by the writers on pure shock value. Who the viewers would least expect. Not what would work best for the story and as a result opened up huge plot holes.

On the other hand, in Cowboy Bebop, Spike's "supposed" death at the end of the series fits the story and the tragic character that Spike was perfectly.

So it's possible to have the protaganist die and make sense, but it has to make sense, have proper lead in, and usually a supporting cast of characters that can continue the story.

Wait and tick, didn't you kill off your main character in Act 2 of the original Quest?

Yeah, but he got better by the middle of the Act.
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Re: too attached to your characters?

Postby spknoevl » Wed Apr 01, 2009 2:39 pm

It takes some of the reader's suspense away if they know that none of the characters are going to die. Especially in a story with battles or warfare where it would be unrealistic not to have some death. I believe the best way to convey the horror of a battle is for a character that the reader has invested in to be killed off. One has to look no further than the death of Boromir in LOTR: his death not only signifies the end of the Fellowship of the Ring but has an effect later on in the story when Gandalf arrives in Minith Tiris and is confronted by the Stewart of Gondor.

One author who has no problem killing off someone who is a main character in one of his books in a subsequent book is Glenn Cook.
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my not-so-humble opinion

Postby thegreentick » Wed Apr 01, 2009 3:09 pm

I think that plots should be built in a way that any character, no matter how important, can be killed and still used to make the story better. As soon as you know that a character is 'untouchable' you cease to feel any suspense.
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Re: too attached to your characters?

Postby Grand Evander » Wed Apr 01, 2009 4:08 pm

I'm not saying characters should be untouchable. We don't typically write stories where we say on page 1 that the characters will all be alive and happy on page 487. The possibility of a character's death certainly helps maintain suspense and emotional investment and keeps things interesting.

I've killed off my fair share of main characters. It's a good way to relieve stress... kidding. I think there's a difference between killing off characters at the forefront of the plot (main characters) and a protagonist. I think it an issue arises more when you have a story follow one character's vantage point for x number of pages, kill him/her, and expect to be able to write a sequel. That's more what I was referring to in my previous posts.

I think I would, building off what thegreentick said, make a distinction between character-driven and plot-driven stories, though this distinction has led to a lot of controversial debate in the past. With plot-driven stories, the focus is less on character development and it can be easier to kill off central characters without jeopardizing the reason the reader keeps turning the page.
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will agree

Postby thegreentick » Wed Apr 01, 2009 4:44 pm

There would definately be an important distinction between plot and character driven. If it's character driven, I would have to agree that it's a very bad idea to kill off the main character, as they are the reason for the story. It's about them. If they die, it's usually obvious that it's going to end up that way and usually takes a lot away from any sort of suspense.

I personally prefer plot driven stories with a strong push on characters. The sort of stories where the big picture is about the plot but all the small chunks are driven by the characters. When one of the character driven chunks is killed off, it usually makes the other parts stronger.
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Re: too attached to your characters?

Postby spknoevl » Thu Apr 02, 2009 7:15 am

Well generally speaking, most fantasy and sci-fi is plot driven rather than character driven. It still helps the reader to invest in the story if they can identify with at least one of the main POV characters. As a rule, unless it's a antagonist, only secondary characters die, but there are exceptions. Look at the Dune series where several of the main characters either die or are killed at the end of one of the books. In fact, their deaths are essential to the plot lines of the sequels.
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Re: too attached to your characters?

Postby Grand Evander » Tue May 05, 2009 8:51 pm

Sometimes it can be a positive thing to kill the characters we're attached to. I mean, if we're so attached to them, then hopefully the reader will be too. I've always viewed a meaningful and tragic death as the greatest honor I can bestow upon a character. And if we're not attached to our characters... then what's the point of writing about them? Our passion comes through in our writing and if we don't care, it'll show through.
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Re: too attached to your characters?

Postby Paully » Thu Nov 10, 2011 9:42 pm

looks great. :lol:
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