- Make it Important To the Plot:
Deaths make a huge impact on people. Especially if you’re killing a central character, make sure that it has a huge build up and an even bigger impact on those who were close to the character. Their death should affect everyone for several chapters, even towards the end of the book if it happens early on.
- Foreshadow: There’s almost nothing worse than a death that seems completely out of left field. Foreshadowing allows the readers to somewhat understand that something is going to happen–maybe not who is going to die, but that someone will.
This helps avoid readers accusing the writer of throwing in character deaths for shock value.
- Make it believable: A random death won’t impact anyone. If a main character randomly dies “off-screen”–as in, the other main characters only briefly hear about it without knowing the character was sick, hurt, etc, the reader will be left bewildered.
- Add Death for Surprise: BAM! Your favorite character’s dead for no reason, ha-ha! Are you surprised??
…No.This isn’t effective. Readers will just get angry because they’ve been tricked into liking a character that the author kills off as if it’s no big deal simply to shock their readers. This doesn’t emotionally impact the readers in the correct way; it only frustrates them.
- Kill Off Everyone: While killing off random characters may add suspense initially by making it seem like no one is safe, it loses its touch after a while. When everyone is dying, readers learn not to become attached to characters in case they die. In this case, the writer better have a kick ass plot to maintain attention when their readers start to distance themselves from the characters.
Oh? Another character died?
- Kill One Specific Character in Each Book/Chapter: If a writer always kills of the comic relief, or always kills of the Hispanic character or Asian character, they’re predictable. And in some cases, probably racist. Just saying.
Remember: Characters are who the readers fall in love with. Treat them with care–even when killing them.
Having trouble with characterization? Here are some tips on how to make your characters leap off the page.