Dealing with the Death of One of Your Characters

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Eventually as a writer you’ll face dealing with the death of one of your characters. You might have it planned all along, or it came out of the blue and took you by surprise. I recently was faced with that, and it wasn’t pleasant. Not at all!

I was having a wonderful time writing an action scene with the entire thing planned out in my head. As I was writing, I stopped cold to see the scene written out with my character being killed. No! I didn’t want that. I erased it and began typing again. The same words appeared again. The man kept ending up dead. What’s up with that? I don’t want him to die! But die he will. The muse is in control.

It is hard to deal with the death of one of your characters. I’ve faced that several times now with various stories. It can be traumatic. It is almost like losing someone you knew in real life. You’ll feel grief and regret, but when it has to happen it happens. There is no way around it.

So what do you do? You mourn, of course. But you mainly do it through the other characters in your story. Let your grief be expressed through others. That way, the readers can feel your pain and be there with you. Don’t forget the power of the written word. The pain you’d feel in the same situation? Let it out through those close to the character. Write in detail the ache in their heart and the tears flowing down their cheeks. Let them rant and sob. Let them show anger and sorrow just as you would experience. The key is to keep it real.

You could throw a wake for him, I guess. That would be unusual but fun. Come up with something creative to do with it.

Always remember that your plans for your characters are not always the plans you’ll end up with. You might have dreamed something big for one guy only to find his purpose was served much earlier and needs to leave the story. It might be taking a trip or moving or it could be their death. That is when you will fight the act. You didn’t plan for their death which means you don’t want to write it. But you have to.

​For me, I do mourn but I continue writing. Even now that one character’s death haunts me. Maybe I’ll resurrect him in another story. I mean when you have the power of the script, you can do anything.

Written by

Writer for ten years, lover of education, and degrees in business, history, and English. Striving to become a Renassiance woman.

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