Sunday, February 5, 2017

Sunday Musings: What does murder feel like

It's February, Musers!

The short month before the mixed up March weather month. Anyone else ever wished March was the shorter month?

Let's get to today's musings, which happens to be from my teen daughter:

what are your feelings when killing a character off...villain or otherwise.

Glee…some more than others. Here’s why—when killing off a character (good or bad) it throws an unexpected wrench in your story, which then forces the rest of your cast to act outside their norms, which makes your story a heck of a lot more interesting. Harder to write sometimes, but definitely interesting. However, I do admit, I have killed off secondary “good” characters with a good amount of emotional pain and wailed “Noooooo!”’s. Strangely enough, by killing him off, he still managed to snag a good amount of pages in a subsequent book. As for villains, they tend to hook up with the Grim Reaper because what goes around, comes around.

I tend to avoid doing this, although some characters may have died to create circumstances for my main protagonists in a story and my characters will have feelings about that (as do I). For example, Rose Turner finds out the circumstances in which her entire family died (a theatre fire in Exeter on the opening night of the new theatre, which had been rebuilt following a fire two years previously). Years later, she reads the newspaper accounts describing the event and is very angry with the theatre architect who did not build in sufficient exits. This was a real event by the way. Mostly, I get rid of undesirable characters by having them go to prison or get banished abroad.

I don't mind killing a villain off because I know that I have included him or her with that end in mind. I rarely kill off nice characters but in DAFFODIL AND THE THIN PLACE, Daffodil returns to present time from the Victorian Age and obviously, the people she met are now dead - a fact that I find rather upsetting.

MJ LABEFF, Mainstream author

Killing off characters is always something I do since I write suspense and thrillers, but I’ve never killed off a main character or someone close to them. Bad things have to happen to some of my characters and not all of them get to survive when the villain strikes. It doesn’t bother me to kill off certain characters because I’ve planned their demise already. As for killing off a villain, I can’t say, I’m not spoiling any future reads! My gut tells me killing off a main character will make me sad, but I fully believe it’ll only strengthen the story should it happen in my writing future. I’ve read other books where a main character(s) dies and it always makes the story feel more real. Shout out to fellow MIU author, Joan C. Curtis, and her brilliant novel The Clock Strikes Midnight. An excellent mystery read with incredible family secrets, drama and death. People die and things happen in real life, and I think it’s vital and important for an author to be able to kill off characters otherwise as a reader I feel cheated, lied to, and am disappointed. Life as we know it doesn’t always have the perfect happily ever after.

Well, my feelings about killing a character off are, or used to be, not much. Killing a villain is pretty much like "it's about time, he/she deserved it." I know it doesn't always happen in real life, but in fiction there should be accountability. Or justice. Unless the writing is part of a series, and even then, sooner or later, the villain should buy the farm. Accountability. Justice. Karma. You know. As for everyone else, unless you're writing a fairy tale, sadly, even fictional characters die. The only character killing that I don't really like to address, even in fiction, concerns American Soldiers. I suppose it comes from being deployed for a year and, about 30 days before returning home, being woken up at 4:00 AM to be told that a Soldier from your company was just Killed In Action by an IED.

Things die. It sucks sometimes. Do we have any food in the fridge?

I should probably frame that by mentioning that I was taught about death from a very early age. I also test as “emotionless robot” on personality type indicators.

It’s not that character deaths don’t affect me, but death is a part of life, even if that life is as a fictional character. If it’s a character I felt a special bond with, it’s about like when it comes time for a beloved pet to “go live on a farm and chase ducks.” It’s sad, but I knew it was bound to happen. Part of getting a pet that isn’t a parrot or tortoise is that you’ll eventually have to watch it go. It’s part of the package.

Characters are similar. We create them, we nurture them, we care for them. But, sometimes they go feral and have to be put down. Sometimes they grow too old to have a good life. Sometimes they’re just victims of fate.

As a writer, I generally know the fate of my own characters right from the start. That means when their time is up, there’s not a lot of emotion hanging around in my head about it. “Bob” was doomed from the start. Sucks to be Bob.

Oh, cold pizza.


Dear reader, thank you again for joining us and we’d love to hear from you. Keep smiling and have a fun week. Never stop believing. See you next Sunday…nothing better than being cozy in bed with some Musings.

If you have a question or comment you’d like us to muse upon, do not hesitate to contact me Christine Steeves-Speakman  at

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