June 08, 2007

Writing Thoughts

Wyrdsmiths are saying interesting things about writing humor. Lots of people with multiple perspectives.

And Eleanor Arnason is talking about why she doesn't kill characters. I'm with her on this one, but for different reasons. Too many times, killing a character feels like tacking on an artificial cost to the story. Yeah, I know, people die in real life. But characters rarely go to the bathroom in fiction because it doesn't serve any purpose in the story. If a death doesn't serve a story purpose that can't be served any other way, it feels artificial. I feel cheated.

Spoiler alert: If you haven't read War for the Oaks, well, why not? Go read it. The illustration will be stronger for it.

War for the Oaks is where I first noticed the problem. When Willie dies, it doesn't do anything that injuring him (making him less attractive, taking his ability to play) wouldn't do. In the process, it stops his story. And he was just getting interesting--in ways that maiming him could have amplified.


So if you're going to kill your characters, make it part of their story. Make sure it doesn't derail your own. Or just leave them alive. It isn't always the weaker choice.

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