Readers become angry with the killing of a character

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mccardey

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It's also fun to word count he/him/his and she/her/hers along the same lines.

It's fun to count how many lines of dialog come from men, and how many from women.

It's fun to see how many times the women are the ones soliciting information (and from men) and how many times the men are soliciting information (and from women.)

Writing is fun.

I love this post so hard, I'm bringing it flowers. :e2flowers
 

eqb

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I suppose this is cheating (?) but nowadays I don't include a male character unless I can come up with a good reason why they ought to be a guy. Or white. Or straight.
 

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And yet, people's concept of the "period norm" is way off the mark. Take a look at Kate Elliott's essay that I linked to earlier. And there's not only the faulty gender assumptions, but faulty assumptions that "accurate fantasy" means all white people. If you want to be historically accurate, you'd include POC at all levels of society.

This is very true. It's rare for a fantasy novel meant to be medieval to actually present a world that isn't full of anachronisms. And anyway, the "middle ages" weren't a static, homogeneous time, an social conventions and technology varied at different times and places in Medieval Europe. People often have weird ideas about what things were like in the real middle ages. Many of the trappings of "classic" fairy tale fantasy--castles with fireplaces, taverns, potatoes, turkey legs, half timbered houses, houses with hallways, corsets, elegant carriages, spyglasses etc. actually came to Europe later, more in the early modern era. However, gunpowder weapons did show up in Europe before the early modern era, and those are almost always missing in "medieval" fantasy that otherwise resembles the very late middle ages or Renaissance.

There's also an assumption that every pre-industrial fantasy is meant to be medieval. I ran into issues with that with my first novel, which was actually set in a world that was meant to be around 1600s to early 1700s in terms of tech and to have a culture that wasn't drawn from Christianity and other things that shaped Europe during middle ages and beyond. People kept telling me they "didn't have X, Y, or Z" in the middle ages, or people wouldn't do such and such. The very hints I dropped to illustrate what the tech level was (clock towers, early microscopes and telescopes, flintlock style firearms) were often fingered by critting partners as being anachronistic "for the middle ages."

So many people think fantasy=medieval. Still, agents say they want stories not set in worlds that are based on medieval Europe, and more and more exist and are popular. Some of the fun of fantasy is to play with things and attempt to speculate how a society might develop if it had A instead of B.
 

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Many excellent points mentioned here. A great deal of knowledge in this forum. I would also like to add that and reiterate the point that if you're killing a MC for simple shock value or to affect another MC, then odds are your characters are not full developed. Also, the way you describe your characters is troublesome (female character #2). The fact that your character is a woman is moot. What makes them unique in the context of your story? Sure gender is a prism that gives a person a perspective. This is true, but it shouldn't be your primary characteristic of the MC.

Another point I'd like to add. Don't kill a MC until they've finished their character arc. This WILL piss off readers. Partially why Ned Stark's death was so good was that he died for his principles. He didn't allow the "game" of thrones to corrupt his sense of honour, and he paid that price with his life. His character arc came full circle. Usually the completion of a character arc doesn't mean death, so I would think long and hard about whether this particular death is necessary or if you're determined to kill her, how to make it satisfying and necessary within the context of your story.
 

eqb

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This is very true. It's rare for a fantasy novel meant to be medieval to actually present a world that isn't full of anachronisms.

I wouldn't call them anachronisms. Just wildly inaccurate.

Medieval times, European or not, aren't the domain the white straight men. It's just plain bad research/craftsmanship to ignore that.
 

Roxxsmom

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I wouldn't call them anachronisms. Just wildly inaccurate.

Medieval times, European or not, aren't the domain the white straight men. It's just plain bad research/craftsmanship to ignore that.

That too. Sadly, writing in any historical setting with diverse characters or cultures is often derided as anachronistic when it really isn't.
 

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Another point I'd like to add. Don't kill a MC until they've finished their character arc. This WILL piss off readers. Partially why Ned Stark's death was so good was that he died for his principles. He didn't allow the "game" of thrones to corrupt his sense of honour, and he paid that price with his life. His character arc came full circle. Usually the completion of a character arc doesn't mean death, so I would think long and hard about whether this particular death is necessary or if you're determined to kill her, how to make it satisfying and necessary within the context of your story.


I want to latch onto this as a tangent for a sec. There's a half-formed idea bouncing in my head (not an active project, none of the characters 'exist in my head yet) where the idea is to build up an ensemble cast going through a shared crisis, then midway through have a catastrophe that randomly kills off...let's say at least a third of them. (I've entertained the idea of literally rolling dice and letting the axe fall where it will.) The remaining cast then has to pick up the pieces (and possibly arcs) of their dead companions and carry on. With the right story, possibly that sort of thing could work? Like in the frame of a war story or disaster epic?
 

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I want to latch onto this as a tangent for a sec. There's a half-formed idea bouncing in my head (not an active project, none of the characters 'exist in my head yet) where the idea is to build up an ensemble cast going through a shared crisis, then midway through have a catastrophe that randomly kills off...let's say at least a third of them. (I've entertained the idea of literally rolling dice and letting the axe fall where it will.) The remaining cast then has to pick up the pieces (and possibly arcs) of their dead companions and carry on. With the right story, possibly that sort of thing could work? Like in the frame of a war story or disaster epic?

@themindstream If you should attempt something like that, I would think it would be best if that midway point is wrapping up somethings. Like's it's the calm before the storm where everyone is happy. A false ending you might call it.
 
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Kjbartolotta

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I want to latch onto this as a tangent for a sec. There's a half-formed idea bouncing in my head (not an active project, none of the characters 'exist in my head yet) where the idea is to build up an ensemble cast going through a shared crisis, then midway through have a catastrophe that randomly kills off...let's say at least a third of them. (I've entertained the idea of literally rolling dice and letting the axe fall where it will.) The remaining cast then has to pick up the pieces (and possibly arcs) of their dead companions and carry on. With the right story, possibly that sort of thing could work? Like in the frame of a war story or disaster epic?

I'd be totally into it.
 

BethS

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I want to latch onto this as a tangent for a sec. There's a half-formed idea bouncing in my head (not an active project, none of the characters 'exist in my head yet) where the idea is to build up an ensemble cast going through a shared crisis, then midway through have a catastrophe that randomly kills off...let's say at least a third of them. (I've entertained the idea of literally rolling dice and letting the axe fall where it will.) The remaining cast then has to pick up the pieces (and possibly arcs) of their dead companions and carry on. With the right story, possibly that sort of thing could work? Like in the frame of a war story or disaster epic?

That might work better at the 25%-35% mark rather than halfway through. For one thing, it's a serious game-changer, and the one-quarter to one-third point in a novel is often when a major plot twist occurs. Also, putting it earlier than halfway will give the surviving characters more space to pick up the pieces and finish reaching the goal, whatever that is.

My two cents, fwiw.