The Mortality (or Lack Thereof) of Characters

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I was looking at Facebook tonight, and I came across a quote in an image.


“If a writer falls in love with you, you can never die.”


So… True or false?  It depends.


I have to confess, there are certain characters (and if you’ve read through my stories, you might guess who they are) who I would be very reluctant to kill off.  On the other hand, I have an aversion to saying something can’t happen in a story.  There are times when, for the integrity of the story (e.g., to make the story flow correctly, or to be plausible) the character should die.  If you have a character fall from 10,000 feet out of an airplane without a parachute, that character better die.  Otherwise, you’re not writing.  You’re just stringing related sentences together on to a page.

The other issue is,  your reader can’t come to expect characters to always live.  Otherwise, you lose some of the drama.  After you see Batman and Robin escape at the end of every episode, you catch on that they’re never going to be killed.

But as I said, it depends.  One of the reasons you don’t see Batman or Robin die is that without them, there’s no show.  If the Wiley Coyote catches the Road Runner, that’s the end of the cartoon.  And if Dave Riggler dies, well, it’s kind of tough to write Dave Riggler stories after that.

But could someone Dave loves die?  I think so.  I can’t rule it out.  Maybe not everyone Dave loves is vulnerable, but the story of Dave goes where it goes.  Sometimes I’m just writing down what he tells me.


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