I’ve always admired authors who had the guts to kill off their own characters, even when it resulted in tear-stained pages because I couldn’t bear it as the reader.
As writers, we become attached to our creations. We breathe life into them through our own words. They start out shaky and unsure, kind of like a baby giraffe learning to walk, but it’s not long before they become full-bodied with a mind of their own. It’s easy to fall in love with your own characters, and it’s natural to want to protect them (even if it’s from your own words.)
In the Harry Potter series (yes, I do bring this series up frequently. It’s kind of a big deal to me), JK Rowling kills a whole heap of characters. She can classify as a literary serial killer. I won’t name the characters, of course, but some of them are very well-loved and respected. I’ve been reading Harry Potter for 11 years and every time I reread the series I still feel the same ache.
Even as I cursed her for killing a few of my favorite characters, I respected her for having the courage to do so. By writing their deaths, she showed the reader just how bleak times had become.
So I knew in my story people would die. They would have to.
In particular, one important character would die at the end of book one. For explanation purposes, let’s call them Sam. It can be male or female. I’m not going to specify.
I planned this in the early stages of my idea, so it didn’t weigh too heavily on me. I knew that I wanted to build Sam up to a certain level of importance to ensure their death would be felt deeply enough.
The problem I didn’t see coming is that I would start to feel the loss myself. I haven’t even gotten to Sam’s death, and I am already desperately searching for ways to back pedal. I’ve put so much heart and effort into developing this character that I can’t bear the thought of killing him/her.
I know Sams death serves a purpose (I mean, I planned it out myself!) but doesn’t it seem a little rude? I created this character to be killed. I spent all this time on this character just to turn around and kill them. Thais a little sick…
I don’t know if this happens with anyone else but it’s given me a strange God complex.
Ah, here is my little world with all of its little people. Isn’t it quaint? Oh look, there’s Sam! I love Sam. I spent a lot of time on Sam. I used only the greatest traits, a magnetic personality, a vibrant laugh, and a fierce sense of loyalty. Yes, I do love Sam. Oh, would you look at the time? It’s time to kill Sam!
Seriously no one should have that much power!
Can you see how I am still trying to talk myself out of this?
Also, Sam is inspired by a friendship I had when I was younger. What if they read my book one day? It’s a long shot, I know, but what if they did? What if they recognized themselves in Sam? I’m sure that would be a lovely surprise for the first half of the book.
Hey, this Sam character is kind of like me. That’s very sweet of Mariah.
Then they get to the terrible shock at the end.
Oh, what’s happening? Oh my god! She killed me! What a jerk!
I’m starting to think this isn’t the best way to show an old friend that I care.
Have you had to kill off a beloved character? Did you hesitate or try to look for a way out?
Days 32-34 are down!
I just want to add a huge thank you to anyone who has viewed, subscribed, or commented on my blog. I never thought I’d even get one subscriber so to have more than one is a pretty big deal. I really appreciate all the support 🙂
P.S. Stop by next time to see how I explain that being a writer is like becoming a voluntary schizophrenic.