“The purpose of character deaths,” by Shannon Haddock

Says science fiction author Shannon Haddock about killing off characters, “Sometimes it’s the best thing for the story.  But it should never be done just to show that the author is willing to do it.  It should never be done just to show that a work is mature or dark or serious.  It should be done when it’s what the story the author is trying to tell calls for.  No other time.”

Read her entire post here.

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About Thomas Weaver

I’m a writer and editor who got into professional editing almost by accident years ago when a friend from university needed someone to copyedit his screenplay about giant stompy robots (mecha). Having discovered that I greatly enjoy this kind of work, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use ever since as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I'm physically disabled, and for the past several years, I’ve lived with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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3 Responses to “The purpose of character deaths,” by Shannon Haddock

  1. The wholesale slaughter of characters is a good way to make me not read a book or series! If there are no characters I can relate to, who I can count on, I lose interest very quickly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t understand why some readers (and writers) think that killing a character is the only way to make a story dark and gritty (if that’s the effect they want — where did this idea come from that the only options are fluffy bunnies or rabid dogs?) anyway. Having something Really Bad happen to a character without killing them seems a better way to get that, because then there’s no “easy way out” through dying — the character has to deal with the aftermath of what they experienced. (Hmm. Maybe that’s exactly why the writers do it — so they don’t have to write the aftermath.)

      Like

  2. Sue Archer says:

    This made me think of an early episode of Firefly. A death happened as a way of illustrating someone else’s character. It was the right call for the story, but surprising for network television. (This is why I like Joss Whedon.) I agree with Shannon that character deaths should be used to fit the story, and no other reason.

    Liked by 2 people

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