Keeping ’em grounded

I seem to have developed a real problem keeping my characters in the ground.

daisies

A lot of you already know that Seth was never intended to survive past the end of Asylum, but he’s just the beginning. I honestly think it all started with us being unable to commit to killing of another MC’s sister–even though the plot sort of demanded it–but maybe we can blame Seth. He’s usually my scapegoat of choice.

We’re not talking some Goku-esque, absolutely ridiculous inability to stay dead, more like canon I thought was canon is kind of refusing to stay canon. Some of our resurrections were planned–a lot of “I thought you were dead but I never actually saw proof of it and don’t get me wrong, I’m totally happy you’re still alive but seriously, I thought you were dead!!!”–but some of them (most of them on my end, honestly) really should be dead. They’ve escaped by the grace of “Well, you’ve never actually stated that I’m dead, and I’ve brought you this lovely bundle of backstory as how I could be not dead, so can I please, pretty please come play with everyone else?”

How do you look in those big, soulful eyes and say no?

I’ve been trying, believe me. It seems hard to trust an author that keeps randomly surprising you with people who should not be. But they’re all good surprises, so you’ll forgive me, right?

I know a lot of authors are loathe to kill of characters in the first place, but I am not that author. If Caitlin is the matchmaker of our story, I am the grave digger, more than happy to put someone six-feet-under for almost any reason at all. But at this rate, maybe I should consider another profession, cause they’re just popping back up like willful little daisies.

As a reader, how do you feel about character deaths? How attached do you have to be for them to matter? On-screen vs implied? Or even before the tale was ever set? And what about when they come back? Do you lose faith in the author, or gleefully eat up the happy ending?

 

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7 thoughts on “Keeping ’em grounded

  1. Character deaths. Now that’s a great topic!

    As a reader, how do you feel about character deaths?
    I have a huge respect for authors that can kill off characters mainly because I have a very hard time doing it. I know authors who can’t decide who to kill off characters or WHEN to kill off characters but I know that I’ve cried many, many times when characters died and I’m not talking just in books that are 3-7 books long, I’m talking about characters that have only appeared in a few pages because they were so well written, I felt that I knew them. If the author does a good job making those characters seem real, that I love reading about them when I open up that book, that I WANT to read more about them, and then they die, yes, I will mourn. I’ve considered not finishing a series before due to a character death. (AHEM, J.K. Rowling, killing off Sirius. WHY?!) However, I do not like readers who due it as a cop out because they feel that their character cannot survive in the brave, new world. That really, really bugs me. Because it’s cheap. I hate that. (Looking at you, Bartimaeus Trilogy.)

    How attached do you have to be for them to matter?
    Like I said, above, pretty darn attached, but any author can do it. *Spoiler warning for Starcrossed!* When I thought that Digger’s lover was dead (as she did) throughout both Starcrossed and Liars Moon, I mourned right with her. She gave us a reason to love him and he was barely in the book at all. I think in both books he was only mentioned a handful of times. His flashback scenes with her probably only ran 15 pages at the most in both books combined. *End spoiler* Characters don’t have to be in the book much for you to grow on them, they have to simply be appealing, be as real as possible and have something that makes readers want to keep reading about them, whatever that is.

    On Screen vs. Implied?
    You mean the deaths, right? Death can certainly be implied, sometimes I think that it is worse done that way. (ie. Sirius.) However, usually I want to see how characters react, even a page or so, that way I feel that we can mourn together. If it’s just implied and then never spoken of again, I don’t like that because then it seems that the characters never cared about that character and it feels uneven, in a way? Plus, then I always will wonder if characters are really did. I refused to believe that Sirius was dead until the last book.

    Or even before the tale was set?
    *spoiler warning for Starcrossed!* Again, I thought that Digger’s lover, Tegan, was dead and that was before the story even started. If the author gives us a reason to love characters, then flashback scenes have a huge impact to loving a character.

    And what about when they come back? Do you lose faith in the author, or gleefully eat up the happy ending?
    Depends. Was the death confirmed or was it just hinted at? If it was hinted at, then I react with, “Hey, so and so didn’t die, so now we can hear about there adventure that they went through!” However, if it is certain, then they came back, I don’t like it. If a character dies, I think that they should stay dead. Otherwise, I feel that the author just brought the character back because they don’t know how to work without them. I know that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had to bring back Sherlock Holmes due to readers anger but I’ve never liked it. Plus, it makes me feel like I went though the emotional wringer for nothing. It also makes me less able to place my trust in the author if they go to to kill off another character. However, I know many more people who like it when characters come back.

    (And not Seth, please not Seth. I think that one of my characters may be getting ready to die and I couldn’t stand to lose him too. :-p)

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  2. I killed someone off in a 300 word story and was sad!

    As a reader, though, I have to be pretty attached to be upset. Or a character I love has to be attached to the victim.

    But coming back all depends. Sometimes it’s right, sometimes it’s wrong, sometimes it’s just weird.

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    • Weird about sums this up. We’ve got a setting with a lot of tragedy going down long before the story opens, and instead of moving forward and making new attachments, old characters keep popping up from the middle of no where and going “No, not dead. Neither are you I see.” It’s ….odd.

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  3. Heh… I’d say I’m more of the gleefully happy sort of person, so long as the revival is ‘earned.’ (I have a need to name a few examples… but also a need to not spoil the endings of good books and movies.) I guess what makes that maneuver really work for me is if the upcoming tragic ending has been so well established that I’ve made my peace with it. Without that, I just have this sense of ‘eh, the author wasn’t really going to let things fall apart like that anyway.’ But even then, I’d still be excited to see the old friends back and breathing, I think. I do love a happy ending. ๐Ÿ™‚

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