Oy. This is the longest 30 days of my life. Didn’t I start this in November?
Anyway, I’ve spent the last week or so with some variation of the flu — my fault, as I was dumb enough to mention to someone how miraculous it was that I’d gone a whole winter without getting sick. I should know better by now than to issue blanket invitations like that, but the words were out of my mouth before I thought of it, and I spent most of last week curled up on my couch hacking up a lung as a result. I’m going to call it lurgy instead of flu, because it sounds more interesting that way, plus this way I can pull in Eddie Izzard.
But here I am, (mostly) recovered, ready for another day. So:
How willing are you to kill your characters if the plot demands it? What’s the most interesting way you’ve killed someone?
Well, I think I’m as willing as it is necessary, if that makes any sense. I’m not one for random deaths (then again, I’ve never written something that demanded a lot of death) or that annoying species of deliberate yanking-on-the heartstrings killing that always leaves me feeling like the author was midway through a good chapter and then thought damn, this needs more angst. Where can I get me some good angst?
We’ve all seen those scenes, I guess. And I don’t think cannon fodder counts toward this question: if it did I’d look like a mass murderer. 🙂 I write epic, after all, and that often means I rack up a good body count. But killing off a main character or a fairly important minor character is a different experience. This is somebody your MC cares about, therefore somebody you’ve invested some time and effort in; presumably (well: if you’re me — I don’t know how it works for other writers, though I suspect I’m in good company) somebody you care about too. You know it’s necessary for the plot, you know it’s a great moment of drama and angst, you know it will move things forward in precisely the right way and Character X will have to deal with Situation Y as a result, blah blah blah.
But still, man, what a hard thing to write. I was all lip-quivery and sniffling when I killed off my first major-minor character (well, let’s be honest: I was in more or less the same state when I killed off my last one too)… and it wasn’t just because my MC(s) were so traumatized by it, though that was a wonderfully traumatic scene. I’d worked hard on that character, and I liked him rather a lot. I can only hope others reading that scene had a similar reaction.
As for the most interesting means of offing a character, I’m not sure any of mine are too far outside the pale: one died drowning in a haunted lake, one died by murder, one died by lightning (and killed several other people in the process) — and all died trying to save someone else.