Today’s all about death in our books and the books we read. Now, I’ll freely admit I’m not a huge fan of characters I care about being killed (yeah- not a Game of Thrones fan ;)). I know some folks like death in their books (readers and writers) since it lends realism. I’ve lost enough people close to me that I don’t need that kind of “realism”-- hits a bit too close to home.
That being said, I have been known to bump off a character or two and there have been books that didn’t become airborn (aka being through across the room) the minute a character was killed. I didn’t like it, but I could see where the author was coming from.
What I REALLY hate is when a character is killed for no real story or character reason- or a reason that could have been plausible even without the death (yes, I am still traumatized by Joss Whedon- love the man, but won’t forgive him for Wash).
I just finished a book that I would have recommended- right up to a gratuitous killing of the character’s parents…right in front of her….after they’d just gotten back together with her after a two year estrangement. Yeah….no.
Part of the problem was the character had a chance earlier to save them- she knew they were in danger, drove out to get them- then decided it was better she didn’t. Even though she knew the Big Bad had her parents’ address.
The second part is that it didn’t really seem to impact the character. This was an “origins” story, and as such could have used the deaths early on to motivate the character (Batman anyone?) but where it was placed it did nothing but shock the reader (and in this case, piss this reader off). Injuring the parents and having a dramatic reconciliation would have a had a much bigger character impact- especially since the character really didn’t respond to the loss.
I know not everyone is as sensitive to death as me, I’m a wimp and I admit it. But I still believe that as writers we have to make the big events count- we weaken them, and betray our readers, when we just dump them in for shock value.
What's your take?