For whom the bell tolls...

Every time this subject coes up, I am reminded of my friend George--the driest, most sarcastic man I've ever known--'s reaction to a certain celebrity death ten years or so back that made major, major headlines. When the hubs mentoned said event to George, George did his patented slightly-to-the-left head tilt and said, "Yeah, and you know what I think about that? People die every day."

But do they always die in books?

I don't mean minor characters. I tend to go through minor characters like a hot knife through butter, at least these days I do. Personal Demons doesn't have any major deaths I can think of, but the sequel has a few.

And one that's missing.

I originally planned to kill off a certain character in the second book, but when the time came...I just couldn't do it.

Am I going soft? Am I a big girly wimp?

I would say no, but in Unholy Ghosts I actually created a character specifically planning to kill him. From page one (well, not quite, he doesn't show up for a little bit) he was a marked man in my eyes.

Until I kind of decided I love him, and couldn't do it.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm a pretty tough girl. The hubs has often said I would have made a great professional killer, and he's right. Hence my firm stance on the death of Fredo (had to happen, no question.)

But when it comes to my own precious little people, I have a hard time doing it. And I wonder if that's a good thing. If a reader doesn't suspect that a character could die at any moment, is there really suspense?

I think there should be. We watch movies knowing the main characters will survive (C'mon, did any of us really truly think John McClane wasn't going to make it?) and the fun is in getting there, in watching them survive and overcome the obstacles. So why should it be different for books?

Not to mention, I hate when major characters I love die. It's enough to make me stop reading a series, and I can't be the only one who thinks that way.

But I wonder if in doing that I don't lose something, and make my work too safe. If in order to really, truly play in the dark you have to be willing to sacrifice, even if it means bringing tragedy into the lives of characters you (and the readers) love. Obviously things happen sometimes, and you can't plan based specifically on what people might think. But still...I think the temptation is always there for a writer, just because of the ripple effect such an event would have on a world which might be getting too complacent. And I know there are a few cases where fans are begging for a death to clear a cast a little or just give them something new and interesting to think about.

What do you guys think? Does a major death turn an auto-buy into a never-buy? Or does it make something new out of something that was getting old?


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