View Full Version : Getting attached to your characters.

11-05-2008, 05:02 PM
Writer's curse? perhaps.

I wrote a couple of characters with the full intent of murdering them, one about half way through and the other at the end. Their deaths are pretty much vital. However, I've grown so attached to them that I can't bring myself to do it. I've written the death scene of one, but killing the other is too painful. After days of internal debating I've decided to re-plan the ending in such a way that her death is not needed. I-can't-do-it.

Anyone else experienced such problems?
My respect for GRR Martin just rose tenfold.

11-05-2008, 05:19 PM
I think you should write the murder scene while it feels so painful. Your pain might come through in your writing. You can keep it or toss it. But raw emotion in writing can be powerful.

I killed a key character once that become difficult because it was my MC's estranged husband. She still cared for him very much and it was painful to write her reaction to his death.

11-05-2008, 06:50 PM
In one of my WIPs, the MC's dog is hit by a speeding van and there's no guarantee he will survive. As this is my greatest fear for my favourite dog Deccy, I wept as I wrote it... but it might turn out to be one of the "best bits" in the book.
Heightened emotion certainly helps my writing...

11-05-2008, 06:59 PM
While your characters may be precious to you, look at your novel as your real baby. Why would you consider weakening your story, the most precious of all elements, for a small element, a character that you happen to like? Why would you do such an injustice to your book? We make sacrifices for our love all the time, in this instance you must sacrifice a character (one, might I remind you, that is entirely fictional, that you created out of thin air. One who, you know, doesn't actually exist) for the betterment of the greater cause.

Weigh the options.

11-05-2008, 07:12 PM
i feel your pain, all of my characters die. all of them.

i want to keep some alive, but the story demands it.

but we also have a great tool, reincarnation. my favorite dies almost a dozen times, wears a dozen names and faces. you know, a rose by any other name...

so if you want to, you can make them a new body and put them in it in another story, another part of the story etc. if you have other characters who live long enough to meet the reincarnaton, then it screws with their heads.

but either way, you can keep them alive in your head.

11-05-2008, 07:26 PM
I'm nearing the last stretch of my WIP, and I feel like I'm slipping into mourning for my characters when I've finished writing it. I've gotten so used to them; it's going to be hard to get over them when the story's finally done.

11-05-2008, 07:37 PM
Yep. I just spared a character who was meant to die because even though he was a nitwit and worse, I couldn't bear to do it. I did mess him up pretty bad though.

11-05-2008, 07:39 PM
When I decide to kill somebody, I usually go through with it. Even though it agonizes me and I might try to think of every sort of way to avoid it! I've brought characters back from the dead, yes, but only when I knew that's what was going to happen from the start; I've had dead characters show up again whether in ghost form or flashbacks; and I've avoided killing certain characters because I like them too much; but if I decide somebody must die, then they must. *sniffs*

I get way too attached and understand perfectly where you're coming from, though. Even if it's not so much the character I'm attached to, as their influence on others, I'll sit and spend countless hours wondering how things would've been if they'd lived. I have one character who never shows up alive in my stories; he's dead long before they take place. I'm not close to him. But he made such a big sacrifice and a big impact on one of my favorite characters (the character, in effect, "becomes" him...hard to explain, it's all very psychological :o ) that I keep wishing there was a way for them to meet or for him to return or something, which would be rather stupid, since it's a realistic story and the guy was murdered ages ago and my character wouldn't even be who he is if he'd lived, so pfft.

But hey, that's what short tie-in stories set in the past are for! :D I can always keep dead characters "alive" by writing them into sidestories not set in the current storyline. (In fact I'm doing that with the murdered guy mentioned above.) Even though part of me will always wish there was a way for them to REALLY come back...

I guess that's what out-of-continuity stories would be for...? o_o

11-05-2008, 07:47 PM
Toothpaste, I agree. But I hadn't planned much when I'd intended to kill this character, and I can see huge potential if she lives plotwise. The story is truly much better than way so I'm spared - for now.

But the other character has to go. I just hope the reader gets as sad as me.

11-05-2008, 08:08 PM
My daughter begged me to rewrite a certain part of my WIP where I kill off a favourite character. I did toy with the idea, but then felt I had to keep it in. I had grown so attached to the woman myself that her death was very powerfully written, and everyone who has read that part actually cried. So, I daren't take it out now!

It was hard though - really, really hard. I loved that character to bits.

11-05-2008, 09:45 PM
I am very much attached to my characters. Well, some of them. However, in one story two of my most favorite characters have to die. They HAVE to die, no question. The first provides the heroes with one of those "Remember the Alamo!" moments, and the death of the second (a major leader/general type) kicks off the turning point in the war they're all in. Real tear jerkers, especially the second one, because she dies slowly and painfully while the first goes out in a blaze of glory :p

And I've got a REAL tear jerker in one of the side-books to the first one. Poor, poor readers...assuming it ever gets published anyway.

Chasing the Horizon
11-06-2008, 04:15 AM
I don't kill characters I really like. Sometimes I kill characters who are really nice and who don't deserve to die, but they're always ones I was never very attached to. I generally don't kill very many characters, though. Most of my books are parts of series, and I feel that killing someone important in book 3 ruins re-reading books 1 & 2 for people. Plus I don't like reading books where too many characters I like die (*cough*Harry Potter), so I don't do it in my own writing.

11-10-2008, 02:27 AM
I have a couple of characters in my current WIP who are going to have to die, and pretty horribly, too, if the story's going to progress the way I want it to. One of them I'm very attached to and so is my MC, so it's going to be wrenching to write. There's no way around it, though.

11-11-2008, 01:16 AM
The two characters I was most sorry about killing off started off as generic 'guards', developed interesting personalities because I really didn't want them to be generic guards - and died heroically saving the heroine's life. There's a scene in a wayside inn with them that is still one of my favourite scenes in the book.

Project nachonaco
11-13-2008, 09:39 PM
My solution: EQUALITY FOR ALL.

Two people, out of a cast of somewhere around 20-25, live at the end of the trilogy.

11-14-2008, 12:53 AM
The only time I haven't killed a character I'd meant to is when the story changed, not my mind.

11-14-2008, 04:53 AM
Tomorrow I'll be killing a character I've known for years. I've really become attached to him but I knew for quite a long time that this day would come. I'll miss him but the story must be told.

Justin K
11-14-2008, 12:25 PM
There are plenty of ways to get rid of a character without death. Maybe you should suspend them in ice, or better yet, carbonite. It worked for han solo.

11-14-2008, 02:09 PM
She lives.

I analyzed the consequences of her living and dying- and living is much better.