Oct. 29 – Nov. 4th Tristan Drue Rogers will be participating in The Big Thrill’s Roundtable discussing whether authors regret killing off their characters. Check back throughout the week to see what he and many other authors have to say.
Here is my opening response:
When any writer, perhaps especially authors as they can no longer change the circumstances, kill off their characters, a sense of remorse is incredibly likely to hold onto them for months to come, if not years or more. This is actually a testament to the writer’s ability to build up the soon-to-be deceased character’s presentation to the reader and themselves. If a character died on the first page, we wouldn’t really feel much, understanding that this means to an end is for propping up a tragedy or event in the book, rather than any one character. However, many pages into the story when we end a supporting character’s life, we have already learned what their motivations to live were, what they found humorous, how they perceived the world, and what they were planning to do in order to change it. Furthermore, no matter what writers would like to admit about their villains sharing little with who they actually are, there is a shred of doubt when the prose is written in such a way as to endear the villain — all of our characters are in some way an extension of ourselves.
This is especially true when putting into account the difference between long form storytelling as opposed to short stories or a limited series, where big ideas, such as ending the story with a main character’s death really flourish and we haven’t spent so much time building up these characters so that we may miss having conversations with them.
I’ve yet to write a story that is continued outside of its first home (my novel, Brothers of Blood is my single release outside of two nonfiction essays), so I can only imagine the terror of killing a character written under multiple books or stories. The authors that intend to go through with this experience have my deepest sympathies mixed with a heavy dose of malicious glee.
The thing is, I don’t believe I’ve ever regretted killing any of my darlings. In fact, if I did, it was because they deserved a different death and my mind was too “in it” to have taken a step back from my writing in order to reevaluate that truth. As long as every death is meaningful or has great intention in its meaningless design, I hope we can get over our regrets and simply put it into the writing, developing our characters, their situations, and especially their deaths beyond our wildest original fancies as we continue our good work.
If you like what you’ve read, buy Brothers of Blood here.