Warning: mad, rad and super obvious spoiler for Caves inside. I’ve probably told you too much already.
I’d be lying if I said I killing off Andrea (a main character in Caves) was easy, fun or didn’t cause me to struggle. It’s the extreme opposite, actually. Hard, depressing and damn did it chip away at my soul. I found her to be a really lovable character, and her large role in the story wasn’t helping. But I think that wasn’t even the worst part about it. Yes, I’ve killed someone who has grown in my head. Yes, I’ve turned the story three-sixty degrees past the point of no return. I can learn to live with that though.
What made writing her death, and the parts leading up to it, extremely hard was the mindset I had to be in. I can’t exactly sit here all jolly, typing away at my little keyboard without a worry in the world. That wouldn’t produce texts nearly as grim as they should be. And though I’m not the best at it, I always try to become my character a little bit. Think like them, react like them, feel like them. And when that character’s girlfriend just died a somewhat painful death without that character being able to do anything about it, it feels really, really shitty. Is this the same kind of empathy as when watching a good movie? I’d say it’s similar, but still definitely different.
I’ve never had to experience the death of a loved one yet. Where most of my peers have already lost a grandparent, friend, close family member or beloved pet, I have no such awful experience under my belt. All I have is the ability to make myself feel down, and I’ll just have to work from there. Maybe this is a good thing, or maybe it just causes me to make incorrect assumptions on things. Then again, all individuals are different, so my character’s actions are always “correct”.
Let it be said though, that as hard as it may be, you shouldn’t be afraid to kill off your characters. I bet most all of you know Game of Thrones loves to do this, and from what I’ve heard, it’s a hella good story thanks to (or despite of) it. A death can kick momentum into your story, it can shift things around, send it flying towards the unexpected. And if it’s hard for you, as a writer, then you know it’ll probably leave a strong impact on your readers.
Aaaaand I’m feeling all sad again. Does it never end?