How to properly kill off characters.

Friday, July 21, 2017

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What is a story without whacking a few people? Boring I tell you! You will want to perk up things up a little. Well my wonderful friends, no better way to accomplish this endeavor than to shed a little blood. Oh, yes. Nothing soothes those frazzled nerves than the death of that knucklehead in your story. Or better yet the child playing ball down the road from your Main character. That little fella will never see it coming, the rat bastard! If you do decide to send literary souls into ether, be sure you understand the Do’s and Don’ts of the process.

   Before you go on the much-needed killing spree, you will want to consider a couple of things before you do. Will the killing of this character progress your story in the directs in needs to go? If terminating one of your characters does not advance your story than do not do it. Killing for the sake of killing (The shock value in other words) will turn your readers off. They in turn, will transform your hard-laborious work into an over glorified door stop. Another way to put it, it will turn your readers away from your story faster than a vegan away from a BBQ contest. The killing needs to have a purpose. Even if it isn’t explained until later on in your story (I will reference Harry Potter in my defense with the killing of Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore). Another, possibility of a character dying is that it is for the greater good. A sacrifice for the MC. (I reference Obi wan Kenobi in a New Hope).

   Don’t kill off any old character either. The reader should have an emotional reaction to the death.

Not shock, but a true emotional reaction. Either a sad response, or a whoop because the evil fool got what he deserved. Again, it must advance the story. Killing is also an opportunity to show what that character meant in your story; by writing the reaction of those around the dying. Will they say any last words? Will anyone say anything to them as the fallen take their last dying breath? This is a great opportunity to have some character development in your story. So long as you don’t perform this little nugget too many times. Don’t get too crazy with knocking characters off, remember it must make sense. Unless there is a plane crash, or war or something to which it would make complete sense.

   A question I do get from time to time is when do I know which character to kill off? Well, if I have a hard time letting go of that character, then I know I am most likely going to off’em. If I will have a hard time letting go, then the reader most likely will too. Sorry little character, it was fun, but you’re about to take a dirt nap. When I do off a one of them, I never, and I mean NEVER have an outlandish death scene. For instance:

Rick feigned tying his shoe, as he laid in wait for his mark to get closer. Standing up. He faces the stranger with a cruel smile on his face as the blade found purchase in the unsuspecting man’s abdomen. Rick, cut a deep gash, raking the knife to one side as he walked passed the man. The whole action only required a couple of well-timed seconds. He opened the victim stomach.

   Tom grabbed his stomach as his pace slowed to a stumbling pace. He shouldered a light pole, feeling tears begin to pour from his eyes. He screamed to the air, “Why? Oh Lord why?!”

He stumbles a couple more paces forward leaving a generous sized smear of blood on the light post as he walked. Bracing himself against a car he clinched his teeth against the pain. He emitted a growl to try and stay alive through sheer force of will. He soon found himself on one knee still holding his stomach with his free hand as the other braced him up the ground. His eyes began to lose focus…BLAH BLAH BLAH.


You get the picture here. Who wouldn’t? This sort of grand standing is not endearing to the reader. Having a nice action scene in the throes of death, one last insult, something normal. I will leave you with a small list to go by. Thanks for reading. Don’t be afraid to spread the word about my site(s), and listen to my Podcast as I will be covering this subject in more detail.

Characters death:

· Needs to have a purpose

· Must advance the story

· Should emphasize the theme

· Create a sense of realism in your created world


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