Recently, I had to kill off a character of mine, and I’m not happy about it. Not because I didn’t love him, though I didn’t know him very well, but because I hate killing off my characters.
Somewhere inside I know that every character I create is a piece of myself, as is true for most writers, so when I end up having to kill one of them I can’t help but think… what part of me just died?
If it helps, he died with honor protecting the love of his life (what better way to die?) And it was a quick death. But I feel for his widow now, too, because she doesn’t deserve the pain and she’s expecting a child. And I’ve known her since she was born! She was born in my first book in fact, and now I have to kill her husband? I feel just awful.
However, without his honorable passing, any number of destructive things could happen to either of them and his death was the only way to save her and their unborn son. I hate when that happens.
It brings perspective to a lot of things, including a real-life passing recently of a beloved family dog- that pain from this kind of loss can never really go away. But neither can the love you felt for the one who has passed. There are more people grieving the death of our beloved dog than I even knew had known the dog. And everyone remembers him fondly!
So if you find yourself in the predicament “how do I kill off my character without being too devastated???” Think about the characters that loved the character whose fate lies in your hands. His/her family, friends, even pets. Think about the impact the character had on those in their life and even their surroundings. Decide what kind of a difference that person made and how they made your story and other characters better. Only then can you truly be at peace with the character’s passing. I mean, I hate to say this, but I find it much easier killing a bad guy than one of my good guys.
Either way, I know I have made peace with his passing- and I know his widow has too. After all, she did name their newborn son after him 🙂
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