Friday, July 27, 2018

Discussion: They're All Dead

I saw this on GoodReads:

And, yes, I laughed, but it also prompted me to reflect on all those fictional deaths that have gutted me. I was thinking about fictional deaths, and these are thoughts that flooded my mind.

  • It seems the more attached to a character I am, the more likely they are to be killed. Yep. I liked you too much, now you must die. 
  • If they talk about the dog too much, THE DOG WILL DIE!!! It just keeps happening in all these YA books. It happens so much, that I can actually see it coming. 
  • Whenever I get too happy about a character's life or when things seem to be going too well for the character, the author must crush my soul and end their life. The lesson being you are NOT ALLOWED TO BE HAPPY. Well, at least in fiction you aren't. 

I don't always get mad about the deaths though. I will get sad, and I will shed tears, but I will be alright IF the death served a purpose. I totally understand wrecking my emotional health to move the story along. Sometimes you need something major like a death to motivate other characters to make big changes. It's just that I need the loss of their life to have meaning, and for there to have been no other way to advance this plot without their death. 

Killing a character just to kill a character is criminal. For me, gratuitous deaths fall into the same category as gratuitous nudity for me - UNNECESSARY! I don't need to be shocked just to be shocked. I don't need you to cause me pain just because you could not think of anything better to do. So, to all the authors out there, if you are going to kill a character, especially a fan favorite or one we have spent many, many pages with, you better have an excellent reason for it. 

Now it's your turn!

What are your thoughts on fictional deaths? 
Let us know in the comments!

40 comments:

  1. A lot of the books I read are violent, so I just assume that none of my favorites are safe. George RR Martin is especially good at killing my favorites. Sometimes he kills all of them in the same scene. It’s sad, but his books have so many characters that I’ll quickly develop new favorites. (That he can kill later.)

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Martin is pretty infamous for killing everyone, but some of these contemporaries have caught me off guard, and shredded my heart.

      Delete
  2. I can't read about animal deaths at all - especially if they build them up as pets and then off them. Nope.

    For humans - it depends. Maybe. But there have been a few that just haven't felt right for the story or character which ruins the whole series for me.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I always worry for the family pet when they focus on them too much. It almost always means death. There were a few books I have read where it moved the plot forward, but in other books it wasn't necessary

      Delete
    2. Veronica Roth would be my most hated fictional person death. It went against everything that character had come to stand for and for a lot of reasons just made for a bad story the way it was done too.

      Harumph!

      Delete
    3. You and my daughter would have a great discussion about that, because it was one of her criticisms of the last book. The other death in that book was so gratuitous, it actually bothered me more

      Delete
  3. There’s some fictional characters deaths I’m still mad about but I get it if, like you said, it moves the story along. It’s still hard though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But sometimes I feel the death is just for shock value, like when TV shows jump the shark and they are trying to just make some sort of impact. Those deaths INFURIATE me.

      Delete
  4. Well Sam that's funny as today at YALC I met Alwyn Hamilton and asked her if she planned her character's death
    . She told me sometimes but not always and that the death had to have a purpose.Not be gratuitous
    Sophie @bewareofthereader

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. See, Hamilton knows it has to have purpose. I wish all authors did.

      Delete
  5. I love a good fictional death, as long as it's not the family pet! I can usually tell if a character is going to be killed off with ththe amount of foreshadowing. Especially the ones that are for shock value.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I told you. I fear for the family pet when it is being spotlighted too much. I can name 10 books off the top of my head, where I predicted the death of the dog. A few times, it was used for something good in the story, but mostly, it was just to emotionally manipulate me, the reader. Note to authors: STOP KILLING THE PET!!!

      Delete
  6. Oh gosh, I would not be happy reading tons of books where the dog - or any other animal- dies. Those story lines really do make me more sad than people dying in books. I don't read a ton of books where characters die - well, I mean, they do in mysteries, etc. but those aren't usually people you really get to know before learning of their death. However, things like The Hunger Games and Harry Potter...yeah, some of those deaths broke my heart, but I wasn't angry about them.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I try not to read books where the characters die, but sometimes, it's a sneak attack. My daughter still laments a certain death in the Hunger Games books, which she felt was not necessary. I haven't read them, but it crops up often, when we talk about fictional deaths. And Veronica Roth and Lauren Oliver sort of did that in the final books of their series too. The killing of a fan favorite for what? Nothing.

      Delete
  7. There is one death i will never get over and will always be bitter about and it will forever hurt my soul to think about....Bloodrose by Andrea Cremer. That's all I'll say. It shattered me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have not read that book, but I can think of a few side characters, who were killed, which left me angry, because I didn't see the point. (Veronica Roth, Lauren Oliver, Leigh Bardugo - I'm looking at you)

      Delete
  8. For me: Unless it's the villain who's dying I don't want to read about it in books (but TV shows and movies I'm fine with). Life has proven to be a real witch in the last few years, so I'm not going into books to feel all that. I've given up on a few book series in the past because the author killed a main character that, in my opinion, wasn't worth it :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmm, I kind of like that. It should be a rule - you can only kill the bad guy. Therein the problem lies - where the death serves no purpose. That is my pet peeve. In fact, I hate when they do it in movies and on TV shows too.

      Delete
  9. I read a lot of different genres so this is kind of complicated for me. If I am reading horror....then kill them all :) Any long running series that I have kept up with and really care about the characters...leave those characters alone. I do expect the occasional death but there are a few that have really stayed with me even when I expected them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. With horror, the genre calls for killings. It's like, required. It's those deaths in a series that usually hurt the most, because of the attachment we develop over time. Though, three standalone deaths keep popping into my head as I write. What can I say, I grow attached quickly.

      Delete
  10. I'm a writer myself. I used to revel in character deaths, but the more mature I am, the more I find myself taking the "they live" approach. I do have some stories/plots wherein characters DO have to die, but it's not so much as an ending to the story as it is the basis for the beginning (just...rather, it's more in the middle of the story). What I'm working on currently, two characters I was going to kill off...well, they get to live. The character development for characters surrounding them is deeper with them alive, having to continue living. I think, in the past, people took "kill your darlings" too seriously and didn't think much about ways for characters to contribute to the plot in monumental ways without them dying.

    I'm definitely curious of the "what ifs" regarding character deaths, though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I understand that sometimes a story needs that "push", but there are other times when I feel like they could have accomplished the same thing in a different way.

      Delete
  11. I think deaths in contemporary novels bother me more than fantasy reads for some reason. Maybe because I tend to connect contemporary characters with real life people I know so the deaths just feel a little too real. The fantasy deaths still hurt my heart (I'm looking at you, George R.R. Martin!), but I tend to be more accepting of them overall because I tend to be a little more removed from those characters, if that makes sense.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know. I cried, for all that could have been, when one of the characters died in Crooked Kingdom. HE MATTERED TO ME!!! I can understand feeling "removed" from fantasy characters, because they are so much more fictional than characters in a contemporary book, who may remind you of someone you actually know.

      Delete
  12. I have yet to get into this with books. Maybe I just tend to stay away from anything with tragedy. Wonderful discussion, Sam, and it was quite fun to read! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're smart, because it's the worst!

      Delete
  13. I'm okay for any human character to die but please DO NOT kill any of the animals - dogs, cats, or even a flying elephant! It just drives me to tears when this happens!

    Am I evil?? Yes, I AM! LOL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It seems the general consensus, that we deal with human deaths better than animal deaths.

      Delete
  14. I don't always get mad at deaths, because I can admire the author for daring or doing them. But sometimes I get really heart broken and sad. Actually, surprisingly, a lot of my characters don't die! They suffer a lot, sure. But I am very happy to say a lot of the characters I like kind of, live on xD Which is surprising, especially as I usually like secondary characters. I actually don't usually care about the pets in books, so I don't really mind them dying off. I'M SORRY FOR ADMITTING THAT. I get more attached to books in real life though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am ok with suffering - it builds character, but when I am attached to a character. I want them to live. I will always choose the HEA.

      Delete
  15. I agree. If the death serves a purpose, then fair enough. I'll grieve and carry on reading. However, if there is no logic or reason to it I get stabby.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I mean, it will still hurt, but at least it wasn't for nothing.

      Delete
  16. I am not the biggest fan of character deaths just because I grow attached! I mean, I hate them. But also love them because if an author can get me to shed tears over a character they have done their job right, but you just know I want it to be necessary. And if a character dies and I feel nothing (and they were a significant character I should have cared about) then I'm going to be questioning what went wrong. I want to care about a death and feel it wasn't gratuitous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I shed tears it they are emotionally wounded. I don't need them to die!!! Obviously it has to be a character, who the author feels matters to some extent, but killing just for the sake of killing or to get an emotional response seems wrong.

      Delete
  17. Oh man, EVERY TIME a dog is mentioned in a book I cringe!!! I've spent chapters upon chapters sitting here all tense worried that the dog is going to die because they keep talking about them (except the Boston Terrier in the Chloe Snow books, I figured that one was going to be okay). I think it stems from my love for Fear Street books as a kid and he ALWAYS killed the dog.

    Character deaths don't effect me that much unless I get completely blindsided. Like some of the HP deaths. And the one in Winger.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I got chills when you mentioned Winger. That scene. *tears*

      Delete
  18. I know what you mean - the more invested in a character the more likely they are to die, especially in movies...

    Check out my TTT and please vote in my Make Me Read It Readathon poll

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am almost afraid of too much attention being paid to a charter I like.

      Delete
  19. I kind of love it when a book shreds my heart. Like you said, as long as a death doesn't seem unnecessary, I don't mind.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I insist, that if you shred my heart, my pain has some purpose.

      Delete