Just as you grieve if a friend is killed, you should grieve if a fictional character is killed. You should care. If somebody dies and you just go get more popcorn, it’s a superficial experience isn’t it?”
George R. R. Martin
We’ve all dealt with the death of a fictional character in a book, whether it be the hero, the villain, supportive best friend, lovable bit character, or an unbearable jerk that does more damage than good. Facing these fictional deaths that seem all too real can be an emotional thing.
It is perfectly okay to feel grief, anger, and shock over the death of a fictional character, and I feel a wide range of emotions when I stumble upon a death in a novel. But, for some reason when I’m the one controlling everything and am dealing with characters I’ve created and developed completely, I just can’t feel sad when they die.
In writing, you must kill all your darlings.”
I’m not saying that I enjoy killing off characters of my own, or that I look for opportunities to off my characters without reason, just that when a character’s death works its way into my plot, I’m happy that all my plans are working out.
I don’t know why I can’t mourn my own characters death? Maybe it’s because I know so well the higher purpose they serve to the rest of the story. Or maybe actually writing their story highlights how fictional they are, while reading character deaths’ seems more real because I’m lost in the world the author created. It’s a mystery to me.
To all the writers out there, do you get more upset when characters in books you read die or when you have to kill off a character of your own?