The Enigma of Character Massacres

Killing seems to have become a major fascination in this day an age as a writer. All the time you see writers jumping up and down exlaiming about how fun it was to kill off this or that character. There are countless stories of friends and family members, who personalized in the story, will be killed off quite dramatically. It's not uncommon to see writerly threats along the lines of "If you don't behave I'll kill you off in my next book" or something like that.

It's all too easy to get caught up in the "I'm an Evil Author, oh this is so fun MUAHAHA! Here a bomb, there a duel, everywhere an execution!" mantra. But if you stop and look at our reasons for this craze, does it even amount to anything?

Why yes it does. And I, Hawkeye am going to attempt to explain it.

Beyond the delight of making our readers feel things -terribly painful things- I believe that it's all about making our characters feel things. Hard things. Making them hurt is fun to us. As a reader? It sucks, but as a writer, you live for these moments. Why?

Because flawed characters are the best characters. As readers we hate perfect characters that do everything just right, and have everything turn out just right. It annoys us, because we aren't perfect. We want realistic portrayals. And sometimes the way we can realistic, is by putting them through the wringer. The emotional wringer.

I wrote a novel. Obviously. And in this novel, my protaganist I knew, have quite a bit of struggling to do. There were things she needed to develop, but in order for her to reach her full potential, she had to have them taken away from her. I will admit with great pleasure, how fun it was to rip away all her loved ones andthe things that were important from her. It was sad when I killed one of my favorite side characters. I hadn't expected to do that, but I knew that it was right for my character, and that she would come out better because of it.

Sometimes, you have to make the touch decisions to find the toughness in your characters.

Besides it is fun to think up ignominious deaths right? What author doesn't live for those moments?

I guess where I'm going with this, is that while we have fun making characters suffer, we need to understand the reason behind it. And the importance of making our characters grow in an emotional level, not just a kick-butt-heroine-who-can-shoot-down-all-the-Nazis kinda way. True character development is not measured in shots, but in weaknesses and the overcoming of them.

One of my recent favorite books, that demonstrates this, is Deception by C. J. Redwine. [Please note that this book is a sequel.] Following the events of the first book, Defiance, we see our narrators (Logan and Rachel) dealing with quite the emotional aftermath. Traumatic heartbreak, stress and tension combined to make my heart practically hurt just watching my favorite people hurt. What's more is, they're still completely kick-butt, despite their issues. But it was the reality of the emotional drama that made them so much more endearing to me as a reader.

So with that said, go kill some characters, break some hearts and write an emotionally compelling novel. I can't wait to die of feels as a reader. Actually, that will hurt, the result will be astounding. I have faith in you.

Also, if you're looking for more fantastic character creation tips, Loki and Black Widow have both touched on it. So check those out!

1 comment:

  1. That was such a great article!!! It helped me a lot because I was a little worried about why I didn't mind, or feel so destrest over killing or really hurting a character. You made some really good points!!! Thanks again.