It's Not Easy Being Mean



I feel like such a creep. I just wasted a character I've really grown to love, a character I have no doubt that readers will adore, too. I'd planned this character's demise from the outset, written it into the synopsis and plotted a good deal of the book around it, from events that propel the story forward to the character arc that will bring the protagonist to full fruition.

I still want to take it back. I thought about it long and hard, but no other event would equal this death's impact. You can't just march in a stranger, snuff 'im, and expect the reader to experience any real emotion. Instead, you have to develop the "victim" as you would any other character. Otherwise you end up with a Star Trek-style Red Shirt, one everyone can guess is doomed from the outset.

Writers don't (or shouldn't) randomly wax characters just because things are feeling a bit boring. We put a lot of thought, a lot of love (believe it or not) into the decision. We do it because death is a universal part of all our stories, as living beings on this planet, and without its shadow falling over our existence, even a fictional life rings false and empty.

Comments

Joni Rodgers said…
It might seem weird to some, but I think the loss of a character merits a little grieving, like the closing of any door.

On the flipside, I spent last week joyfully resurecting someone I thought was dead. My agent urged me to administer CPR (Clever Plot Reversal) and keep him around.
Christie Craig said…
Colleen,

You have my sympathies. Killing people isn't always as fun as it should be.

CC
Joni,
I think your agent was dead on (so to speak) about reviving that character. Can't wait to see how the new project plays out.

Christie,
LOL! Darn tootin'!

Thanks for stopping by.
Suzan Harden said…
Once again your Yoda wisdom shines, Colleen!

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