For the Love of a Character
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?