How to kill a character

Authors have the power. They are Gods. But we all know that nobody will like your story if you make up things that don’t make sense.

Let’s talk killing. Inexplicable or Illogical Character Deaths (ICD if you will) – I hate them. I don’t mind the death of a beloved character, even if it is sad and horrible. Sometimes it makes sense. Think only of Harry Potter. (Trying not to spoil too much here.) There are simple facts that are true, whether in the real or fictional world. War takes its toll, there will be casualties. Additionally people know that Rowling is not afraid to kill, so reading on gets more exciting. (Quite contrary to Twilight, where we know nobody’s going to die and it becomes boring.)

Now in series such as Charmed, Smallville, Star Trek or Xena, people die alot. Of course they also get resurrected a lot so the show doesn’t run out of characters. But that means killing someone convincingly is very, very tough. Don’t kill people too often or it gets ridiculous, save them with the most realistic methods possible, and make sure they carry away some post-traumatic stress.

In Star Trek, I believe, the killing has been done convincingly enough, since they accept the hypothesis that they cannot save everyone, and when they manage it, it’s usually a miracle. (I hated how they killed Data, Tasha or Jadzia, but at least there was really nothing the characters could have done.) There are forces in the universe, such as Q or other aliens, that reverse death, but it’s not like the characters ever depend on that. In quite a few scenarios, though, the writers simply used a reset button of some sort, and although overused, always kind of works for me. Continue reading