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For the Love of a Character

January 19, 2015

CP Author PhotoBy CP Bialois

Good morning everyone!

I’m sure we’ve all read a book or books where we fall in love with a character to the point that it hurts us when they’re killed, am I right?

It’s usually something that comes to us as a shock. How many times have you looked at the offending scene and wanted to shout, or actually have, “But he’s/she’s a major character! You can’t kill off a major character!”

I know I did it when JK Rowling killed off Albus Dumbledore. I seriously read that scene a hundred times, each time expecting it to be different and to this day I refuse to forgive her (Just kidding… maybe 😛 George RR Martin is a close second after killing Draco, Ned Stark, and maybe the Hound. He’d better not kill Tyrion. lol).

To me, it’s the mark of a great author to “trick” us into thinking a character is safe and will never perish. I blame Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and JRR Tolkien for that. Had they not brought Sherlock Holmes and Gandalf back from certain death, it may not catch us (or just me lol) by as great a surprise.

If you think about it, it’s an easy enough concept to plan, but to pull off? That takes some work and good ole fashioned luck.

Think of it this way, how many times have we written a character with no more thought than they were meant to help our MC on their journey, and the supporting character became our readers’ favorite? Talk about being thrown a curve ball, right?

This happened to me in my Sword and the Flame series. A pair of characters I really enjoy became some of my readers’ favorites, but I didn’t find out until they suffered some setbacks (Sorry, no spoilers here). I got some pleasant love letters for that and once the shock wore off, I loved it! Their love affair with my characters was unexpected and, I admit, confusing at first. It wasn’t intended, but I’ll take it. If nothing else, it makes me look smarter than I think I am.

And that’s the beauty of it.

We can plot and plan everything we can down to the smallest detail, but all it takes is someone seeing that one idiosyncrasy that reminds them of someone and a new favorite is born.

How about you? Do you have a favorite character that got to you when they were killed off or have you done that to your readers?

 

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6 Comments
  1. January 19, 2015 11:02 am

    Hi Ed…Yes, I created a minor character that became a fan favorite as well. when I killed him off, I had a few “love letters” about it too. It does become a great compliment though when you think that you have done well enough in your character development that your readers actually think of them as real people. Or at least real enough to them to get pissed off that you had the audacity to kill them.
    Along those lines, I have learned from The Walking Dead, that no character should be safe from death. It should be lurking, waiting and ready to pounce at any time. And there can only be so many times one can escape it. That’s why there should be a nice, full set of characters…so when the MC falls, another can step in.
    Now I’m wondering about the next book having the MC die before the mid-point…that should really get the love letters flowing.

    • January 20, 2015 10:04 am

      Haha! Oh yeah, I definitey take it as a compliment after a quick (albeit quiet) chuckle. I like the mentality that no one is safe. We’ve got to keep people on their tos, right? lol

      Now that would be a pretty cool idea. I killed off one MC, but haven’t gone back to it as yet. It should be fun. You should print and frame some of those love letters for your office. They’re a perfect decoration. 🙂

  2. January 20, 2015 10:30 am

    I was mighty pissed at J.K Rowling for killing Sirius Black. I was shocked by George Martin’s character butchering but then I got used to it. He kills so many characters it gets old after a while. As for me, I am in the middle of writing my first novel so I can’t say anything. I am definitely killing one character and I hope my alpha readers don’t find this comment and hang me for it.

    • January 20, 2015 2:17 pm

      Oh yeah. Sirius’ death reall got me too. I thought she had a vendetta against Potter or something. lol I’ve come to understand any character I like will eventually die. It started with the Friday the 13th movies and continues to this day. I’m cursed. lol

      Good luck! I’m sure they’ll give you a pass. 🙂

      • January 20, 2015 2:32 pm

        If you don’t want any character you like die, then I say read R.A. Salvatore. He is notorious for not killing his characters, or faking their deaths and bringing them back. If one dies, it’s usually of old age/natural causes. I think GRRM is trolling the readers by viciously butchering major characters.

  3. January 21, 2015 12:52 pm

    Very true, Leona. It’s great to have a fantasy and want a happy ending, but sometimes those happy ending have to be paid for in some way,That’s one of the reasons I like George RR Martin. He keeps us on our toes hoping to have a happy ending of some sort. With any luck, the Imp will make it to the final book and become an advisor, but I’m not holding my breath. lol

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