We all know that when reading a story a death can play a big part in moving the story along but only if it is done right. When done wrong it can leave the readers confused and angry and can sometimes be a pointless plot just to make the reader feel a conveyer belt of emotions. But when done right it can make the reader feel emotions that they need to feel to see the story along to the end and to make the characters need to get to their final destination.
Here are some tips on how to make it sad and not pointless:
- Make them die by sacrificing themselves for the ‘Greater Good’, E.G. To save someone they love, to save the many and not the (few meaning them). Their death had to happen to make sure others were saved. It gives for a rather sombre mood but sometimes needs to happen.
- Make sure they have strong relationships with the other characters and that they last long enough in the story to grow those relationships with the characters and also with the reader. This will make a bigger impact when they do finally pass away.
- Leave their ultimate goal unfinished, make it so that the more they try to achieve their goal that the more you take it away from them just before their death, making it sadder. Let the goal be just within their reach and sight, then take it and them away.
- Let them struggle and fight against what is killing them and let them be just out of sight of the other characters and so they can’t call out. It will make it sadder because they could have potentially been saved by the others if they had been seen or if they had been able to call out.
- Don’t let them pass over by the hand of old age and after a long fulfilling life, whilst in one way it is sad in its own right, it not sad enough because they managed to achieve their ultimate goal. Unless of course you decide to make it so they didn’t reach their ultimate goal which could make it sad.
- Don’t describe the funeral, it prolongs it too much and can essentially bore the reader making the sadness leave and not have the desired impact you want. Or it can become too depressing, especially if the readers have been to funerals. You want them to know it happened, not experience it fully.
- Kill them whilst they are describing a happy memory, a joke, smiling or helping someone.
- Before they die, show a different side to them that none of the others saw, E.G. Normally shy and tearful but faced with death they are brave and take it on the chin, or if they are strong and brave normally let them be scared to die alone, or someone who is always happy and laughing let them die in floods of tears.
- Once the character is dead make the others believe that they were betrayed by that character, when in fact that character didn’t betray them at all but only the readers know.
Use these tips to make your characters deaths sadder, I know its a depressing subject but authors are known for their character killing.
REASONS TO KILL A CHARACTER…
Some authors can be a little hasty with killing characters off and become somewhat trigger happy just killing off characters for the sake of it and just to get emotional reactions from the readers. But not all reasons are good ~ or bad. Here are some tips on what is good and bad:
Good ~ If it is needed to move the plot along E.G. Monique and Callum from my Alone series. This was needed because Stacie needed the burden of being in charge again, to help me push and test her mental limits.
Bad ~ Just to cause an emotional rollercoaster. There needs to be a hidden depth or reason for it, without one it just becomes pointless. A silly reason just to shock or cause your readers sadness. This is a massive reader turn off and because of it they may not recommend your books or read anymore of your books again.
Good ~ If a character has reached a certain goal of the story (Not necessarily made their own goal) E.G. Selene in my book The Keeper of the Key ~ She made it to the final gate (Goal of the story) but maybe hadn’t done all her life goals (Had children). Also if it is a sacrifice to spur the other characters on, to keep them moving, to avenge a death. (Callum in Lone).
Bad ~ To get rid of an extra character. Did you really need them in the first place? Does their death move the story along? If not, why have them in it at all, it won’t make sense and the readers will pick up on it.
Good luck writing and killing off characters…