I have always held a deep respect for authors who kill their characters. I can remember this one traumatic experience, years ago, and I was devouring the final Harry Potter book (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, my favorite of the seven. The mythic and symbolic elements of this book are plentiful and masterful) when one of the main characters died. I remember the shock, and I stared at the page, re-reading the same sentence once. Twice. Five times at least. “How can this be?” I asked myself. Then I sped read the rest of the chapter, hopping that this scene was possible one of Harry’s dreams, or some sort of alternate reality. I felt for the death of this character. Tears may have even sprung to my eyes.
As the years passed and I began to work and learn more about writing, I began to ask myself why I reacted in such a way. I didn’t hate J.K. Rowling (or any author whose killed off characters) for deciding to end the life of a fake character, in fact, I applauded her. She showed courage. It was something which I began to aspire to, and I know this may seem strange, but in the future I hope to gain the strength to kill off one of my own lovable characters.
When an author creates characters, if done well, they become relatable. We begin to associate ourselves with them, and we also begin to invest our emotions. When these characters die, it hurts. This investment of our time and emotion ends tragically. But if done right, the death of a character can bring character development, and can perhaps influence us as well. Perhaps we too may learn a lesson from the death of a fictional character.
So one of the skills that I hope to develop with my writing, is the creation of personable, and realistic characters. Characters that have realistic reactions, and feelings, and to do this, I really need to open my eyes wider and become much more perceptive. Write what you know.