Come join me Sunday, July 30th!

Come join me Sunday, July 30th!
Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore- San Diego

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Death Does NOT Always Become Her


Today I was thinking about when writers kill characters.  Actually, this popped into my head because of a cute little cartoon on FaceBook.  It had Joss Whedon’s logo (the scary guy) chasing three figures.  The words said, “Guns don’t kill people, Joss Whedon kills people”.  The three figures were three well-loved characters (out of many) that he’s bumped off over the years.

 I’m an anti-death person myself.  I figure that real life has way too much of it for me to want it in my fictional pastimes (book/tv/movie).  I am still pissed about Joss killing Wash in the Firefly movie. Now for those of you saying, “But sometimes you HAVE to kill a character to motivate a major change in another character,"  I say, yeah, sometimes.  But alot of times a death is used for simply dramatic impact, or to make things seem more realistic.

For an example, I'll use the aforementioned Wash character from Firefly (and let me tell you all- I still think Joss is an insanely talented man- I just disagree with some choices he's made over the years ;)).  The character in question survived all sorts of things in the series, and most of the movie.  Then, just as he's safely navigated the ship through deadly peril- he gets run through with a pike and dies.

There was no, he gave up his life to save others moment, it wasn't needed to really motivate anyone (his wife was horrified, but she was already a fierce fighter- his death didn't cause her to suddenly come out and fight).  It was shocking, dramatic, and painful- all of which I think Joss was going for.

I don't like it.  Death without meaning is very real life- but I'm not someone who wants her fiction to be like real life.  Realistic, yes.  Painfully real? No.

Now, I have had to kill a few characters in my books.  But I made sure there was a BIG reason for it- usually saving someone else.

So, now that I've had my rant about folks who bump of beloved characters, what about you?  Do you like reading/seeing that?  Do you write it? 

Thanks for coming by!

20 comments:

  1. I had to bump off a character in Burn in Hell, A Jake Carrington Mystery. Even though she was the antagonist, I liked her very much and cried when I knocked her off.

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    1. Did you know you'd be bumping her off when you created her? I hadn't thought about the villains we may fall in love with dying too!

      Thanks for the comment :)

      Marie Andreas (can't get on blogger- at day job :( )

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  2. That moment in Serenity made me sad too. The deaths of my characters typically serve a purpose, but after my mom died in real life, I killed one of my characters suddenly and without reason. That was real life creeping up on me through my writing. Generally, though, I prefer death to serve a purpose. Those deaths can still be dramatic too.

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    1. Thanks for coming by L.G. and my condolences on the loss of your mother. I think our real lives will always impact how and what we write.

      Marie Andreas(can't get on blogger- at day job :( )

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  3. When things are going too well, Fred and I look at each other and say, "They killed [insert character name here], you know." Whether it be Wash, or Maid Marian, or D'Argo, it sucks.

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    1. LOL!! I like that Thinky! Yeah- pissed about D'Argo too...

      Thanks for coming by and commenting!

      Marie (can't get on blogger- at day job :( )

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  4. I agree--I think in fiction everything tends to be more meaningful than in real life, and death shouldn't be quite so random. I think readers prefer patterns to chaos, and if you throw in too many random elements in your plot gets jumbled (or you end up with a Hitchhiker's Guide, but you have to be really really adept at humor to make that work). One trend I've noticed is that authors tend to kill off characters just to make you care about the character who died. It's very strange, but I notice that over the past few years of television, screen writers like to make gay/lesbian characters drop like flies. It's like they're trying to use tragedy to make us connect with them. I, for once, would like to see the girl end up with the other girl, or the guy with the guy, instead of having one partner left alive and grieving. It's like the writers either don't know how to write happy endings L/G couples or they're afraid to offend audiences.

    As far as general character deaths go, my rule of thumb is never insert a death to generate drama--only use it as a result or byproduct of plot elements.

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    1. I like your rule of thumb Yamisui! I think more folks need to follow it. Don't kill just for shock or to build compassion- make it a logical and meaningful reason.

      Thanks for coming by!
      Marie Andreas(can't get on blogger- at day job :( )

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  5. Yeah, killing good guys off is hard and there has to be a really great reason. Romance readers especially don't like too much sad in their books!

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    1. Thanks for coming by Cassi :). Yeah, if there's an insanely good plot driven reason- or even emotional arc- I might be ok (as a reader) but most of the time, the driving motivation isn't there.

      Marie

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  6. As a reader or viewer I don't care for having a popular character knocked off. In fact, it really ticks me off, so much so that I won't read more or watch the movie again. If I know ahead of time that one of the favorite characters will die, I make a point of not seeing the movie or reading the book. If you've got to kill off someone, make it the new guy that I haven't invested emotions in or had time to identify with, otherwise, I'm not a happy camper.

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    1. I agree Scarlet! I've pummelled friends for not warning me ahead of time (when they knew someone would die). Now the rule is, if someone dies- WARN Marie!

      Thanks for coming by!

      Marie

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  7. I hate when a character I "love" dies either in book or a TVseries. I know that the life is cruel. But I don't want "waste" my time on a book or tv show, which instead of bringing me positive emotions in the ends, makes me feel bitter.

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    1. Thanks for commenting Adila :). I completely agree :).

      Marie Andreas(can't get on blogger- at day job :( )

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  8. In the HIGHLANDER series, after Duncan rescued his great love, Tessa, from the villain, she got killed by muggers a few minutes later. I suppose the writers were trying to make a point about the randomness of life and death, but I found it really upsetting.

    I killed the male lead in one of my novels. He sacrificed himself for the heroine and her children in the climactic battle with the supernatural evil entity. It seemed appropriate (the victory should come at a cost), and I tried not to set it up as a traditional romance arc, so I hope readers didn't feel betrayed.

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  9. Hi Margaret- OOOOOO! I hated that moment in Highlander! I stopped watching for a long while because of that.

    Have you heard from any disgruntled readers?

    Thanks for coming by!
    Marie

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  10. I don't read books and watch movies or TV for realism. I have that in my life. Most people read and watch to escape. I put my heart and soul in a writer's hands when I read their book or watch their movie. They are asking me to connect with, become, and love their characters. In return, I expect that my heart will be taken care of. That if a loss must occur, that it is meaningful, moving, and has great purpose. I've never read Game of Thrones, because I've been told that Martin kills his characters willy nilly. I've still not forgiven Whedon for Wash. Before that moment, I thought Serenity was going to be the best movie I'd ever seen. I can't watch it, even now.

    The moment I know an author will kill his or her characters randomly, I'm out and I won't' go back. I hate TV shows that every so often eliminate main characters just to be "realistic". I don't watch TV for realism! I want a world where I know no matter how much danger my characters face, at the end of the episode, they come home safe.

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    1. Samantha- I think you and I are on the same page! I am ALMOST at the point where I think I could watch Serenity again...almost ;)).

      Yes- give me my non-realistic fantasy worlds anyday!

      Thanks for coming by and for such a great comment :)

      Marie- stuck at work-can't log on to blogger :)

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  11. I think because I grew up reading horror, I usually expect characters to die... LOL

    There does need to be a good reason, and often it's to make a change in the characters who are left behind.

    But it is tough to take out one that you like...

    Great post Marie!

    Lisa :)

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    1. LOL Lisa- yeah, I do think folks who read horror will be more accepting of death- maybe even upset if it doesn't happen!
      But see- even a horror fan like you agrees there needs to be a valid reason!

      Thanks for coming by and commenting Lisa!

      Marie

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