Killing Characters


It is a common misconception that writers create their stories. We create our characters, and we create the world they will inhabit. But the stories? They kind of create themselves when we turn our characters loose in the world we made.

Characters, if developed well, will always behave true to their nature. Characters may change over the course of the story, of course. They might become more compassionate or more daring or less reckless, they gain information or experience misunderstandings that effect their actions.  Characters are people, too.

So I’m faced with a decision that I’m sure every fiction writer has to make at some point.  I have a character that I might have to kill.  The character’s nature and decisions through the story will lead up to one big decision.  Choose one path, the character dies, choose another, and the character lives.

The dilemma is this:

If I kill my character, my readers might hate me.  It’s a likeable character, and one that, if I write the story well, people will become attached to. If I don’t kill the character, though, I might not be staying true to the demands of the story.

I’m still early enough in the writing that things could change.  As I said, the stories create themselves, and this one is still creating.

The writer is just along for the ride.


9 thoughts on “Killing Characters

  1. I know what you mean. I have a story where I knew from the onset that will have to die. It’s just the way the world is set up. The unknown is what the character will do between the beginning of the story and the end.

  2. Always go for the demands of the story. The audience is along for the ride just like the author. Be true to the story and the readers will love it.

  3. I agree with Ivy. Stay true to the story. The readers will hate you more if you don’t! I have the same challenge with the book I’m working on right now. A character dies at the end and he’s well liked by readers from the first book. But, I have to stick with the story. Doesn’t make the scene any easier to write though! I cry when my character have to die. 😦

    • I cried as soon as I realized this character was probably going to have to die! I haven’t even written the scene yet. I’ve tried looking at various scenarios and possibilities, but I think there’s nothing I can do.

  4. I have to agree that the integrity of the storyline must remain in tact if there’s no way of keeping the favourite character as a relevant part of the storyline. It will be a good chance for the other characters to evolve

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