Death In The Afternoon

Well.  I did it.

I just killed off one of my characters.

This is kind of a big deal for me.  I have been stuck on this scene for over a month, knowing what needed to be done but not wanting to do it.  I’ve written scenes of violence before–that’s one of the main themes of my book, actually, the fact that my narrator is a killer.

And, in my first novel I did kill a character with a name, Victor, but honestly, he was written to die.  That was different.

Today I killed of someone that I like, a character that I am going to miss.  For the first time, one of the wrong people dies.  I’m taking a couple days off from my day job and I am using them to try to get back on track with my writing, to force myself to get through this block I’ve had.

It worked, I managed to turn the corner on this scene.  And once I put the words that I’d been dreading down I was able to get back into the book.  I think I’ll be able to keep going now, to actually finish this thing.

I’d like to hear from other writers on this issue.  When it came time to write the death of a character you like, how did you handle it?  Do you feel the temptation to change things around, to see if the character could be saved? Did you find writing those words was harder than you expected?

And does it get easier?

About MishaBurnett

I am the author of "Catskinner's Book", a science fiction novel available on Amazon Kindle.
This entry was posted in Cannibal Hearts, On Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Death In The Afternoon

  1. muriellerites says:

    I haven’t killed a good character… yet. Interesting post.

  2. I haven’t killed a good character yet either. I probably should, for dramatic-ness and what not, but … probably won’t happen in my current series. It’s supposed to be fun, after all – good people dying isn’t terribly fun. Unless they’re sacrificing themselves for the greater good or something. I can handle heroic deaths.

    But hey, if a death needs to happen, it needs to happen, right? For the good of the story and all that. 🙂 Yay for getting past your writer’s block?

  3. Dave Higgins says:

    I have not tried to dodge killing a character because I liked them. However, if I liked a dead character I sometimes end up making their part larger and deeper when redrafting; as long as I tighten the manuscript up in later edits so they are not more prominent than is warranted this might actually be a good thing.

    • MishaBurnett says:

      In this particular case, I had written this character into several scenes that I hadn’t originally intended to feature her before I made the conscious decision to kill her. Hmmm… maybe I was subconsciously plotting her demise from the beginning?

      • Dave Higgins says:


        However, several of my intended to be talking wallpaper characters have expanded into larger characters and survived the story so, maybe not.

  4. J.A. Romano says:

    Yeah. In each of my stories, I normally kill off one of the good characters. I mean, it depends, really. They aren’t very good (personality wise), but I liked them. I spent a long time writing about them. So, when it came time to kill them off, I wanted to make the best out of their deaths. I wanted to make it as emotional as possible, as meaningful as I could, etc.

    One thing I could never tolerate was meaningless deaths. Of course, it could be the writer’s intention to give one of the best characters a meaningless death to showcase his/her cynical point of view… but I’ve always wanted to give all the deaths a reason. I really liked this post. Good luck on your writing.

    • MishaBurnett says:

      I realized that I needed to raise the stakes for my characters–I had an antagonist who hadn’t really done anything that warranted my protagonists hunting him down. In order for the plot to advance, the threat had to be made real. I actually considered creating a character just to be killed, but that seemed dishonest. Once I had settled on who was to die, it felt like the right thing to do. It was just hard.

  5. SJ O'Hart says:

    Oh, God, yeah – I’ve struggled so badly with killing off characters that I love. I was tempted to restructure my entire book so that a particular character didn’t have to die, but I eventually came to my senses and did what the story demanded. Then again, I killed off another character (who I loved just as much), without having planned to, merely because the story seemed like it’d be better if he was dead.

    It was.

    That doesn’t mean I liked doing it, though!

  6. Chelsea Brown19 says:

    I have nominated you for The Shine On Blog Award.
    Check it out

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