Character Deaths

So yesterday I was watching The Host film (yes, yes, insert judgement), and I will admit that once you wrap your mind around the weird concept, it’s a pretty good book/movie.

Anyway, I was googling after to see if there was going to be a sequel, because it is set up really well for it. I found a mention on Wikipedia (not the most reliable source, as a researcher I know this), about Stephanie Meyer planning to make it a trilogy but that “she has some qualms since The Host universe is a “dangerous place” where characters might die, and she is not sure if she wants to kill them off.”

That got me thinking about writers. Besides all of the many faults with Twilight, I think the fact that she refuses to kill her characters is, dare I say it, cowardly. I’m not saying kill everyone a la George R. R. Martin, but you have to kill some characters if the story demands it. And not meaninglessly, of course; death is a natural part of life and even if you’re writing a totally peaceful story it’s still natural, old age, sickness etc. But if you’re writing a fantasy or sci-fi or dystopia it is a more likely occurrence given the magic, the revolutions etc. that are commonplace in these genres.

I had to face up to a death in my second book that I’m writing. It was tough writing that scene, but it was the natural evolution to the story. I knew it was coming and it took a lot out of me to write it but I did. There should be a reason for killing characters, and I accepted that.

I hated J.K. Rowling for every character she killed but I respect her immensely for it. It takes courage to face the facts and accept them.  Not to do so, just seems disingenuous.

And I do understand that not all stories have to have a death to make it good and that is of course fine – better for the audience. But if the story is leading to a death, to shy away and not write it is a betrayal not only to yourself as the writer but to your characters as well.

Anyway, just my thoughts on writing.