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message 1: by Tommy (new)

Tommy Jason Charles (TommyJCharles) I become emotionally attached to my characters. I can't help it. So much of what they do occurs to me spontaneously, I sometimes feel as if they have a life of their own.

What do you do when it's time to kill off one of your characters? Do you have a little quiet moment? A celebration? A toast? A roast? Or is it just not a big deal to you?


Michael Cargill Cargill (MichaelCargill) | 146 comments I usually get drunk and send them text messages saying how sorry I am.


message 3: by Tommy (new)

Tommy Jason Charles (TommyJCharles) That's what I have Google Goggles for.


message 4: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Goldin (stephengoldin) I had to kill off a very likable and important character in The Eternity Brigade because the shock of it was a necessary impetus to get my protagonist to do something. I kept telling myself that killing a character nobody cares about is a waste of time and has no effect. The death of someone who matters has a strong effect on people. Look at the death of Obi-Wan in Star Wars.


message 5: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (UrbanFae) | 360 comments Tommy wrote: "I become emotionally attached to my characters. I can't help it. So much of what they do occurs to me spontaneously, I sometimes feel as if they have a life of their own.

What do you do when it's..."


Yes, I do feel terrible about it, but I like to think that they're in a better place ;)


message 6: by Tony (new)

Tony Talbot | 23 comments I run them through with an sword. I'm brutal with them, no second chances, no reprieves. At the same time, I'm usually crying a little when I do it...


message 7: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (UrbanFae) | 360 comments Tony wrote: "I run them through with an sword. I'm brutal with them, no second chances, no reprieves. At the same time, I'm usually crying a little when I do it..."

Yikes! That's brutal all right. I heard the author Mary Doria Russell speak once, and she said that she shook a dice for each character in her book. If it turned up odd, they died. If not, they lived.

That's cold, man. Really cold.


message 8: by Tommy (new)

Tommy Jason Charles (TommyJCharles) That's so funny, Tony. That is essentially what we do, though, isn't it? I try to let them die with a little flair, at least.

Michelle, wow. Now that's by the seat of the pants writing at its finest!


message 9: by Lynxie (new)

Lynxie | 103 comments One of my favourite authors only just wrote a blog about this:

http://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_...


message 10: by Tommy (new)

Tommy Jason Charles (TommyJCharles) This is such a great blog post, thanks!


message 11: by Karin (new)

Karin Cox (wwwgoodreadscomkarin_cox) | 6 comments Michael wrote: "I usually get drunk and send them text messages saying how sorry I am."

Nice! :-)


message 12: by Lynxie (new)

Lynxie | 103 comments No worries Tommy! I highly recommend Michael J. Sullivan's work! Hit Riyria Revelations series is just so, so, so AWESOME I cannot express how much! :D


message 13: by Karen (new)

Karen Wyle (kawyle) | 86 comments I believe that was just for one book, A Thread of Grace, and was Russell's response to something many WWII survivors told her: that their survival was purely a matter of chance, not the result of something special or clever that they or others did. I think her son may have suggested this way of reproducing the randomness of life or death in that setting. She'd roll dice to find out who died, and then figure out how to make that happen in the story.

Michelle L. wrote:"I heard the author Mary Doria Russell speak once, and she said that she shook a dice for each character in her book. If it turned up odd, they died. If not, they lived.

That's cold, man. Really cold."



message 14: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (UrbanFae) | 360 comments Karen wrote: "I believe that was just for one book, A Thread of Grace, and was Russell's response to something many WWII survivors told her: that their survival was purely a matter of chance, not the result of s..."

You are right! That's exactly what she said. I didn't realize that her son had given her the idea, but she did say that she wanted to re-create the randomness of the Holocaust.

She's very hard on her characters. Have you ever read

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell? Yikes!!


message 15: by Joshua (new)

Joshua Silverman I always feel terrible when killing off a character. After all, to me, as the author, EVERY character has a little bit of myself in them, so by killing a character, I am killing a part of me.

But when I do kill one, I generally go over the scene a hundred times because I want to make sure I give their life, as a character, the proper respect it deserves. By doing that, I have to make sure their deaths were not in vain.

Plus I always give them a toast of my finest scotch. They deserve no less than the best.


message 16: by Tony (new)

Tony Talbot | 23 comments Karen wrote: "I believe that was just for one book, A Thread of Grace, and was Russell's response to something many WWII survivors told her: that their survival was purely a matter of chance, not the result of s..."

That's a major point of The Pianist, I believe; his survival is merely luck.

Joshua - I also go over the scene a hundred times to give them the respect they deserve and if I'm killing a character off, I want to extract every ounce of emotion. If I'm not crying a little when I do it, then it doesn't feel like I'm doing it right.


message 17: by Richard (new)

Richard (amazoncomauthorricharddparker) | 183 comments I kill off so many I'm numb to the whole process...makes me sound a bit creepy. Whaahahaha.


message 18: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Duder (thomasduder) | 31 comments I only kill of "major" characters for one of several reasons, for all that it may be cliched.

Firstus, impact. I've got one story (never released, never will but I like the premise) where the big hero dies right off the bat and his sidekick is the one who has to continue on with the story.

Secondus, big damn heroes time. 'Cuz sometimes the only way to take out the big bad is in a headlong suicide rush, as cool and as violent as possible. Sometimes said big damn hero is laughing maniacally while the villain is all "NOOOO! Are you crazy?" And the last thing could be somethin' along the lines of, "YEEEEEES!"

I blame Robert R. McCammon's They Thirst by Robert R. McCammon for influencing me with that one.

Tertius, to make a point or achieve an end of some sort in the work. I have an unreleased manusript, "Courier Legend Ran," about a hard-future Earth that's completely overrun and is basically a sphere of steel skyscrapers and stratosphere-hooks. A real grungy future where the President isn't elect but rather the clone of the same guy. The final one, who's an absolute psycho, basically grows weary of the world and decides to kill all life on it (genetic drift can be fuuuuun!) unless a particular courier can run the entire length and breadth of their capital city, hitting checkpoints that stops automatic dispensers from sending out this killer gas.

Anyway, it ends horribly. Which was exactly the way I wanted it to. :D


message 19: by Paul (new)

Paul (PaulLev) | 42 comments There's no doubt that killing off a character gets a reader's rapt attention, but it's also hard, unless the character is someone you don't care about, in which case the character shouldn't be in the story in the first place.

I killed off a few sympathetic, important characters in The Silk Code, and I still feel bad about it.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0091W43JW

The Silk Code by Paul Levinson


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Books mentioned in this topic

The Eternity Brigade (other topics)
The Sparrow (other topics)
They Thirst (other topics)
The Silk Code (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

Mary Doria Russell (other topics)