Cold-Blooded Killer

You guys, I don’t know if I can do it. Last night I finished the rough draft of Xoe book 5, and something happened. I didn’t mean for it to happen, I just wasn’t paying attention, and well, someone died. When I realized what had happened I cried my eyes out along with Xoe, and now I’m having serious writer’s remorse. I know that the death is good for the story. It’s a good learning experience for Xoe, and it sets the stage for the entire next book, but still….I’m questioning it. Will I really never get to write about this person again? How the heck do other writers deal with this? Sure, plenty of people have died in my books, but never a main character that I’ve grown attached to over the course of several books.

I guess I just have to rip the bandaid off and go with it. Today I’ll begin going back over the draft, making sure everything in the story lines up…but hopefully it will be a few more days before I have to read the death scene again. Fingers crossed that I’ll gain a little perspective by then.


39 thoughts on “Cold-Blooded Killer

      1. Most fans only get angry about character deaths when they feel tacked on and pointless, when they can see the hand of the author reaching out to murder them for the sake of body count, or boredom, or whatever. Readers can tell when the death of a character comes from a source outside of the story. And that makes them angry at the author.

        If this character death came out of the story, so naturally that you felt it almost happened when you weren’t looking, then I don’t think you have to worry too much. ^-^

      2. Great point. This is the only main character I’ve killed over the course of five books, and it’s a very meaningful death to me so hopefully that will translate.

    1. This makes me feel a little better, haha. Xoe does have a dream in the end where she gets to say goodbye to the dead person, but it’s less heartwarming, and more just…depressing. I’ve never been more glad that I write fantasy, where communication with dead people is not a far leap ;p

  1. Beware dear girl. There was a writer named Hiram Heffelfinger who killed off one of his beloved characters. Other characters in his novels banded together and killed Hiram. You are heading down a dangerous path.

  2. I remember the first time I killed a character off, and you just feel awful for a while, it’s sadly, kind of like when someone in real life dies, there’s the initial shock, denial then eventually acceptance and you have their legacy to remember them by. Although, with a character it does feel like there’s something missing but it does seem like it’s a crucial point for both the progression of characters and of the plot itself if it sets the stage for an entire book! So, as sad as it may be now, there will always be your memories and the books where the character is still alive for you to remember them by… and accept that it’s just what was for the best! (:


  3. I think if it is affecting you this much it must be pretty powerful. And if it is that powerful then the book probably deserves to keep it. Deaths of major characters can be some of the most emotionally significant moments in a story. Obviously I don’t know your story at all, but it sounds like, as painful as it might be, you have a genuinely emotive event and it could propel the story to new heights.

    1. Great point! The whole reason I went with it to begin with is that I felt it was needed for my main character to grow, so hopefully my readers see it that way as well 🙂

  4. Your character has to cope with someone’s death. Just go the way with her as some kind of therapy for both of you. That’s the good thing about writing: you can do anything with a pen; create, destroy, kill, bring to life, fall down, get up… You just have to do it and you’ll grow with your character and cope with the death just the way she does.

    1. Very true. I wrote a long scene last night where she comes to terms with the death with the help of a very unexpected friend. It made me feel a lot better too 🙂

  5. I’m sure you’re fearing the flying tomatoes :). I have a secret: as long as the story/series is consistent I don’t generally say bad things about the story/series/author. I’ve discovered that even though a beloved character dies or turns out to be not such a good guy sometimes their death or twist can turn out to be a good thing. Of course, it’s only natural that you’ll grieve the death of one of your characters…s/he has been with you through 6? books now? It’ll be fine once you get through the grieving, you may even find a way to work them into a dream or something which will be just plain confusing for Xoe :D. 😉 I’m sure your muse just took off and left you behind so when you caught up your jaw was on the floor and you were saying “What did you do that for?! I had plans for that person!” At which point the muse just looked at you, laughed and said something like ‘neener, neener!” lol

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    “God gives us relatives; thank God, we can choose our friends.” Addison Mizner Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.~ Thich Nhat Hanh

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    1. Thank you for this post! This makes me feel much better. I’m also of the mind that I’m not going to blame an author for killing someone off…in fact I think it’s weird when books have countless life or death situations and no one ever dies…but then I just think of how much flack other authors seem to get for killing characters. Of course, I guess if people care enough to complain, it’s because they really like the character/book!

      1. Yup. A former favorite series went downhill quickly because the author wasn’t consistent and WOULDN’T kill off a character who was no longer serving a use to further the plot.
        I admire an author who does do what’s best for the book/series.
        What gets me is inconsistencies within the plot or not being able to keep minor things like names or species straight.
        It’s not the deaths that get the fans in an uproar, it’s needless death or keeping a character that a few like and letting the one fans love rot in a dungeon or something.

      2. I’m feeling much better about my decision now, thank you! I had already settled on keeping the death, but maaan was I worried about it :).

  6. I know the feeling Sara. I had to kill off one of the central characters in my first novel and remember the feeling of grief all too well. But it was a necessary sacrifice and it was the right time for her. What makes it worthwhile is when your reader comes upon the death of the character and react strongly. It means you’ve done your job as a writer (even if it sucks). There will be other characters and other death-by-author moments, but you must be strong.

    1. Well I cried like a little baby, so hopefully it will have even half that impact on others! Not that I want to make people cry, but if a book can evoke emotion from me, I know it’s a good book 🙂

  7. You can always have them come back in a series of their own, or a prequel. In one book, I had a moment where I knew I needed to kill of the MC’s mother, but really really didn’t want to, despite the purpose it would serve later on. I did it anyway, and my MC will be stronger for it when the big MOMENT of the story arrives. There’s a reason it happened, so just go with it!

  8. Happens, and if it’s necessary, then it’s necessary. George R R Martin is famous for killing his characters, and people think he’s cold blooded in his execution of them, but he isn’t. In an interview, he said it hurts, even killing off the really bad ones. You grow attached your whole cast, but sometimes weddings just need to be red.

      1. Exactly. Plus, if the story needs it, then the story needs it. There’s also that whole thing where it’s unrealistic for a big cast of characters to make it through very harsh trials unscathed and all alive. That was a big internal debate when I was writing my first book: They can’t all live, because that makes no sense. Though at the end of the day, I couldn’t off any of them. I do not have the fortitude Mr. RailRoad Martin has

  9. Hey, I still read the rest of the Harry Potter books after JK Rowling killed Sirius. I admit I was a little more wary of them afterward, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If it’s where the story took you, then it can’t be all bad.

  10. Uhhh, I’m new here and may be overstepping sci-fi bounds (not my genre) but don’t you guys bring people back from the dead? Isn’t that the beauty of Sci-fi? Also, if you’re worried that you’ll never be able to write about this person again, you could always do a prequel with them in it, or maybe Zoe has really vivid dreams every once in a while. Just throwing some things out there!

    1. Very true, but I guess that’s kind of why I don’t want to bring the person back, haha. I feel like it’s become a little too…expected in the sci-fi and fantasy genres. Still, I’m going to cling to the idea of the person having a few dream cameos here and there ;).

      1. Ok, so I DO know a lil sumthin’ sumthin’ about sci-fi! I totally get it if you don’t want to do something that’s been done to death. Ha!

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