Do you have a story that is riveting, and exciting and has you sitting on the edge of your seat as you write? You’re loving it, the way the characters grate on one another, or the way they are able to look past another’s fault to get something done? Or is there a part in your story that you think will benefit from a ‘death’?

It’s a tough decision to KILL a character. You are doing it for the benefit of the story, but what does it stand to gain or lose via this act of yours?

Well, depends really. You want something gripping and urgent, then maybe the death will benefit, you want emotions to rock a character’s stable world, then maybe. But how do you choose which character to sacrifice after having spent weeks and month developing them?

Show some tough love. Weigh their pros and cons.

Here is an exercise for you to try:

Question 1: You have a story with four characters: 3 male (Jack, Matt and Brandon), one female (Clare). Who would you sacrifice?

You’re thinking definitely not Clare, right?

Question 2: With Clare remaining in the picture, you have potential for romance with any one of the 3 males? Who would you chose?

Can’t decide yet? Of course not, you don’t know anything about the boys to pick which one might add some extra weight to the story.

So, here is a brief description about the boys:

Jack: a handsome guy with sandy blond hair, average height, slightly build, blue eyes. Character wise, he is a goof ball, likes to always lighten any situation. Is doing law. Not fussed about a relationship, but wouldn’t mind dating just for fun.

Matt: an average-looker, fairly tall at almost 6 feet, goes to the gym regularly, is on his way to becoming a proficient businessman. He is serious when he needs to be, but also knows how to have fun. Is looking for a steady relationship.

Brandon: a gorgeous eye-catcher. Dark brown hair, light brown eyes, build and lean. Similar to Matt in height. He is a quite type. Likes to observe more than engage in a conversation. Pretty handy with tools and has travelled quite extensively. He appears the serious type, and frankly doesn’t really care to hook up with a girl any time soon.

Now…

Question 3: Which one of the three boys would you kill off in your story based on the information you now have?

Jack/Matt/Brandon???

Well this all depends on where you want to take your story. Whether ‘Clare’ is looking for a fling/steady relationship/ or chase after a man she can’t really have?

You see, with any one of these boys you have three avenues through which your story can travel. What you must learn to decipher is where you want your story to go, and whom might help with that travel?

Share your thoughts with me. I beg you! I’d really like to know which avenue people would choose and why. Perhaps I could learn something new yet.

These four characters are from my novel IN STRANGE COMPANY. If you’d like to know which one of the three boys I am guilty of killing you can find out. The book is available on Amazon.com for $4.99 (USD). I am looking forward to putting the funds towards developing a film on women’s activism and voice in the third world .

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8 thoughts on “Thou shalt not kill characters?

    1. Thank you, Helen! I was asked just recently by a reader why I chose to kill a certain character, and that led me to write this. I hope it was helpful πŸ™‚

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      1. Yes it was. I remember I piece of advice I once had from a writing class, to look at your best sentence and then delete it. I remember thinking no way, its the best line, yet it can really make you see things differently, even change the direction of what your doing. Works the same with characters I guess πŸ™‚

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      2. Yes. It’s sometimes trial and error. Other times you have a fixed idea but when you begin to write, another character pokes their head in and says ‘Pick me. I’ll serve you better.’
        And it’s very true with dialogue. The thing that I was always told was to keep the character believable. And one sure way of doing that us taking all the fluff out and just writing ‘normal’. Which is quite hard once we get going, isn’t it? πŸ™‚

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  1. Okay, so I am gonna to the exercise. I’ll kill Matt, only because I am such a sadist…since he is the only one looking for a relationship, lets eliminate him so the poor girl will have a tough time with the other two. >.> (Gosh I’m so bad…). lol…and ooo, this is from a book you wrote! *adds to her next months buying list* Hope there is a kindle version.

    About killing characters, it is kind of hard because we all put so much hard work into creating each of their background, attitude, fears, strengths, weakness…we bring them to life so killing them is really hard for us but sometimes death is necessary in stories to add some flavour or to shake the reader’s world! Rawr! I am soo gonna read your book, wanna know who dies. =p

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    1. Love it, love it! You’re the first one to participate in this exercise. And not a bad choice with the character, though don’t you think someone who is constantly trying to grab Clare’s attention when she may or may not want it, be a great plot too? πŸ˜›

      And yes, the book is on kindle only at the moment for $3.99 (USD). Or you can just watch out because I plan on throwing surprise give aways πŸ™‚

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      1. Yeah, that would be a good plot too..so, Okay if Matt stays..then he will be the annoying one..Clare can be on love with the playboy (Jack) …soo he can die…and then while she is all heartbroken, the quiet one will kind of slowly comfort her. While the business dude keeps annoying. Damn, I am probably twisting and and turning your story around. xD I won’t even read the summary of the book. Gonna get it next month! =D Muhahaha.

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      2. Hehe. See, you get the point, the potential of a story to go in any direction. πŸ™‚ you can read the blurb. I don’t think that gives away the story.

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