Killing a loved character


Anyone who has been reading for the past decade is well aware of the series Game of Thrones. McDonald has made a mastery of the technique of upsetting his reading audience in order to boost sales. He was not the first to kill a main character by any means. The most prominent was JK Rowling having Harry Potter die in the Deathly Hallows, but she brought him back. McDonald, in interviews seems to relish the thought of finding unique and gruesome ways to off his protagonists, even going so far as to do so as a form of receiving payment on a bet outside of the world he has created.

I am toying with much the same thing in my fantasy epic. Unlike most fantasy worlds The Milward Chronicles is stuffed full of protagonists. I think at last count I was up to about a dozen primary characters. My main cast is nearly twice the size of a large situation comedy. In choosing to kill a character the choice needs to be considered with a variety of factors, benefiting the storyline is primary, doing so to satisfy some activist group or agenda should not even be in consideration. It is your creation, your world and the only factors should be what improves the quality of the writing. Far too many decent television and movie scripts have been ruined because some social or political agenda has been shoehorned into the narrative. A good writer does not bend to those pressures, ever.

To continue, the death must be germane to the story arc, it must help to move the dialogue and plot in a meaningful way and it must in all circumstances add to the story without seeming forced. Far too many of my favorite writers seem to be under the impression that they have to follow suit in the death of protagonists or someone loved by their main character in order to “keep it real”. No, that is just bad writing. To do so does occasionally add “spice” to a narrative but adding an element of tragedy just because the critics call that good writing is not in and of itself good writing. That is pandering and it has about as much legitimacy to the art of writing as using old coffee grounds has to brewing a decent espresso.

 

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About robertleebeers

Author, Illustrator, Artist, Musician, and (sorry) politician.
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