Monday, September 15, 2014

30-Week Writing Survey: Week 24: Killing Characters



Today's question: How willing are you to kill your characters if the plot so demands it? What's the most interesting way you've killed someone?

I don't do a lot of killing in my stories. My characters aren't often in situations where dying becomes probable, though I have written about people dying of old age or disease (usually in a distant way).

It's not that I'd be UNWILLING to kill characters so much as "if the plot demanded it" doesn't usually enter into the equation. My stories are very close to being entirely character-driven, and it's unusual that "plot" demands anything from me. I understand the concept, but I can't say I have ever practiced it. But since I rarely write about people in life-or-death situations, it just doesn't seem to come up.

There was quite a lot of death from the usual things like age, alcohol-related liver failure, other sicknesses, in my Bad Fairy novel (after all, Delia was rather obsessed with the afterlife), but even that story really didn't have any interesting or messy deaths.

In my short stories there have been a few offstage deaths as well. In "The Mother," one of my characters discusses his feelings about his wife and three daughters perishing in an earthquake. In "Mother's Day," Hendrix discusses his mom having died hundreds of years before he was born. In "Uncle Avery's Garden," the main character discusses her feelings about her uncle's AIDS-related death. And in "Wind," Thomas missing his dead mother (and longing for her special Christmas cookies) is one of the launching points of the story.

But probably the most interesting death was in a short story I wrote a long time ago and am now revamping. After living the life of a savior, taking on a spiritual journey, and having a long talk with an oracle, the protagonist ends the conversation by calmly beating an old man over the head with a stick and setting him on fire.

It's symbolic! I swear!

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