This week, we discuss killing your characters, how, why, and to what end? When is it essential and when is it gratuitous? How can it shift the story and the protagonist? How might we want it to affect the reader? And how can we pull off that desired effect? When is the best time to kill a character?
Why is killing characters important? How should we approach killing characters? And what are the reasons for doing it? How can it affect your story and your protagonist’s journey? What genres rely on killing characters? And how should you approach killing “extras” in your book? Even nameless characters can have a huge impact – so use your tools wisely!
What we talked about:
Why do we need to talk about killing off characters? (1:00)
What factors go into deciding to kill off a character in the primary or secondary supporting role? (2:23)
Remember what the character wants! (6:12)
The first reason for killing characters (and the best reason). (7:48)
What about killing minor secondary characters? (9:10)
Make your character realize they aren’t invincible. (12:00)
Think about the ripple effect of a characters death. (15:44)
How do you decide to kill a character? (16:30)
What about killing a protagonist, or major character? (18:25)
So do we kill characters? (21:07)
What about genre? (22:43)
Beware the formulaic fiction! (26:09)
Not all character deaths have to be front and center, or emotionally deep. (27:57)
What about large scale death? (28:25)
Things we mentioned:
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
George R.R. Martin
The Fault in our Stars by John Green
A Walk to Remember
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
Star Wars A New Hope
Have thoughts, questions, other examples? Join the conversation at the Story Works Writers Facebook group.
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