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Does killing off a character affect you? (1 Viewer)

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Senior Member
Recently, I have started to write a three-part conclusion to a major arc in my Urban Sentinel series. A fourth part that focuses on the aftermath
of the trilogy happens later and wraps up loose ends. One of the main points in this story is the death of a recurring character I've grown fond
of ever since I introduced him into the series.

The character was meant as a 'once in a while' kind of guy that would assist the series protagonist, but ended up getting more time in the series
due to his versatility and such. I originally intended him to be phased out at some point, but came up with another idea for him when I was
putting together this new trilogy. His death in Part I highlights how real a danger the Foundation (antagonist group) has become, and why the
hero of the series and his comrades must take a different approach to stopping them.

Unfortunately, killing him off affected me more than I thought. I once killed off a main character (in an alternate reality) that I had written for years,
and it affected me quite a bit. I didn't think that a recurring character could have been as dear to me as he was until this happened. I didn't cry my
eyes out this time around, but I was genuinely sad and visualized the scene in my head in which he perished. The fact that it might seem like an
empty death hit me as well, even though it has a purpose.

Does anyone else go through a myriad of emotions if and when they kill off a character? I'd be interested to see the responses.



WF Veterans
Sure George R.R. Martin made it popular to kill of the characters that were in his book kings, and did it without reservation even though it was multiple. It can when done right build suspense.


Senior Member
Not really. I mean the actual act, I get the same kind of emotional reaction that I want my readers to have, but I don't actually feel bad that I've done it or anything like that. These characters were created to die. Their deaths serve the story. I knew it was coming before I started writing. I've also done it so many times that I don't get attached to my characters the way a lot of people seem to. I made them up. I'll make up more. It's no big deal.


Senior Member
I tend to see a lot of things in regards to the story I'm writing through the eyes of my characters. That, coupled with attachment
and sometimes a sudden unstable element introduced that does harm, and it catches me off-guard and prone to sadness. I have
even cried when writing a death scene for a character that I related to very much.

I'd like to think that as writers, everything we do comes from the heart just as much as the mind.



Staff member
In the sequel I wrote last year, I killed two characters who never appeared in my book, but appeared in the original author's book. I've read that book a dozen times. When I reported their deaths, I teared up. My wife teared up, and a "guest reader" told me he teared up. My MC took it even harder. ;-)

I don't kill off major characters as a rule. I try to scare the hell out of the reader and make them fear that's about to happen. However, I will kill off named characters without it causing emotional pause. In the mystery I'm plotting, they drop like flies.


Staff member
Board Moderator
Depends. If in my alleged planning stages I knew they were getting killed, probably to a lesser degree.

If I'm free-plotting along and I run across a scene where somebody dies and it wasn't planned...little different story.

Ralph Rotten

Staff member
Yes, I have cried while writing death scenes.
But a few times my readers were even more adamant about it. In one of the Calizona books I killed off a character who had been one of the storytellers...and killed him in a brutal and unexpected way. I heard from readers...starting with the beta readers. They were all quite upset.

So I figured that if it made that kind of emotional impact, it was best to leave it in. After all, what would GoT been without the Red Wedding Scene?

Megan Pearson

Senior Member
Red shirts amass! My husband and I love figuring out who the 'red shirts' are in a movie or book. In case the reference isn't known anymore, it's a nod the Red Shirt Men in the original Star Trek Series who were always sacrificed for the good of the plot.

But on a more serious note, I have a four-part series partly written, partly scripted in outline form, in which the hero dies. He, umm, sort of comes back to life in the final chapter, 'sort of' because he comes back whole, as something more fully realized than what/who he was before. He's the story, so with his death comes the end of the story.

I don't recall feeling anything other than this deep sense of satisfaction that his story was being told to its fullest. Shocked, yes, but there was also this sense of peace that the story was complete. In fact, I couldn't write in the story for months afterward because of my other commitments, but now that I've returned to it I feel like I don't have to be so cautious with him. He can be freer to be himself.

Seeing that outlining is not writing, I'll have to revisit this post in the future and let you all know how that went in actuality. But it might not be for a while--that's in the 4th book!
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