Discussion: Death, Dying, and the end of Characters

disussion on a bookish topic-01

Months ago, I was going through my reader and came across a post on Asti’s blog for the Feature and Follow meme. The question asked what your guilty pleasure was and Asti’s was when characters die in a story. Now, I normally HATE IT when characters die in a book, especially if they’re my favourite characters, but when I went about my days and kept reading the books (you know, same old, same old …) I noticed something: not a lot of authors seem really comfortable in killing off a character and letting them stay dead.

There have been QUITE a few books that I’ve read (and I’ll refrain from naming any of them — I’ll leave you to wonder which books I’m talking about!) where the character dies, but then they’re not dead! And then they die … and then they’re STILL not dead. I mean, what?!?! Some of these instances have been with characters I absolutely despised, so when they came back, I was less than thrilled.

Or, there are the cases where an author brings back a character as something else, not a human, but some other supernatural-type creature. Like in vampire books, a character dies, but then is miraculously saved as a vampire! Or maybe they come back as a werewolf! There’s ALWAYS a way, it seems, to bring back a dying character.

Does this make me sound morbid that I actually WANT my characters to stay dead once they die in a novel? I mean, obviously there are characters I love and feel ALL THE FEELINGS towards when this happens — I mean, of course with THOSE characters they stay dead (at least, in my experiences, more times than not). I feel like it’s a brave thing to kill of a character in a story and let them stay dead — if you’re just going to bring everyone back, what’s the point?

I do wonder if authors are just trying to keep fans happy when they do this, or if they’re just not brave enough to really give up a character. When an author brings back a character, I feel like it’s a cop-out — I want that author to be able to LET GO of a character and maybe bring in new ones I can come to love.

Of course, this is only in stories where characters NEED to die. This happens mostly, I find, in books with a supernatural slant as opposed to contemporaries or modern-day-type stories.

Do you find that authors are copping out by keeping their characters alive, or bringing them back after they have supposedly died?Β 



20 thoughts on “Discussion: Death, Dying, and the end of Characters

  1. I feel like if you are going to play the death card it needs to have meaning. It has almost no meaning if you bring them back at the beginning of the next book! You already played that card–roll with it. I know in Paranormal’s that there is always a loop hole but you shouldn’t use it UNLESS it really is something that holds the same emotional impact the other way.

    I don’t mind characters dying in books if there is a reason. In fact, in action, suspense, thrillers, dystopian—you have to or I just won’t feel the urgency. That being said, if you start killing off everyone (yes Mockingjay I am looking at you) then by the end I am over it. I just don’t care any more and it quite frankly drains the story. It is better to have “quality” death with meaning than to have “quantity” for shock value.

    Love the discussion!

  2. I don’t think I’m reading the right genres because normally the main characters in my books don’t die, and when they do it’s pretty permanent. BUT, it would probably drive me nuts if they died and it was ambiguous or not permanent. I mean, let me move on already!

  3. I too think that people are being resurrected far too often these days. I’m not a fan either. If you didn’t want them to be dead, don’t kill them off in the first place!

    I love that sadness that comes along with having one of your favorite characters being killed off. Because it means that you care enough to be sad about it and especially when it does have a correct place in the story, it can be very good.

    • My thoughts exactly! I think it’s so brave of an author to kill off characters … so long as there’s a reason. I mean, why put your readers through the emotions if you don’t mean it?

      • Plus I totally admit to liking a book less if the character is resurrected. It’s just that I find that the author needs to make a choice (to kill or not to kill off a character) but if he/she can’t stick with it I’ll be disappointed with them.
        And it sucks indeed when you’re feeling all upset about someone dying and then , two pages later “poof! I’m back!”

  4. Oh great topic here! πŸ˜€ I myself HATE it when the character I love dies, and sometimes I fantasize about them coming back to life after some twist of fate (and they normally don’t), but when the author overdoes it by killing a character off, MULTIPLE TIMES, and then revealing that he’s alive after all, it just stops making sense to me. I guess it’s a good twist to bring a character back to life, but when you’ve already done that trick, I think it’s best not to do it again XD ESPECIALLY for characters I despise! :O But yeah, we basically agree πŸ™‚ Great post Kristilyn ❀

    • Ha ha … yes! The characters I hate can definitely die … and stay dead! I’m not sure how I feel about characters coming back, good reasons or not. I’d prefer a character to die and just stay dead.

      Hm. What does that say about me? Ha ha …

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  6. Personally, in spite of my own feelings towards any characters, I think it’s a really strong decision to kill a character off in a story. While I’m often pleased or surprised by their resurrections, should they happen, I do think that killing them off means they should be dead — if they really are. It just lacks permanence or shifts the effect of the death if they get brought back into the story!

  7. Pingback: November Wrap Up | Lose Time ReadingLose Time Reading

My home is where my books are. - Ellen Thompson

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