Character Assassination – Bumping Someone Off…

One of the elements that I have absolutely loved doing when it comes to planning out a storyline, is creating the characters that are central to the plot.

Originally, my book the House of Seer was a complete story, centred on two people who fell in love trying to solve an ancient prophecy. Yes, it got rejected and pushed back a number of times and looking back I understand why – it was basic, scant and ‘luke warm’. 
how to create a characterI had created other ‘secondary’ characters that, as one editor put it, were equally intriguing. So after a few months pondering the storyline, the Forces of Nature trilogy was born and I now have a central cast of twelve!

These twelve individuals wander around in my head waiting for a call of action to come and do something within a chapter. Over the past three years I have come to know them, to understand them and enjoy writing about them – even the baddies. 
So it was really hard to consider bumping one of them off! I struggled with the thought process behind how and when they would die, because I had actually become quite attached to them.

Building the background, history, behaviours and personality of your characters is fun and exciting, but often challenging. To create them so they are likeable or loathed is hard work without becoming attached to them. Because these people exist in your imagination, they are nurtured through creativity to become meaningful – you wouldn’t have a story about them if this were otherwise. 

The way that you respond to your characters is an emotional response as a writer; as a reader you want to feel something similar. 
I think it is part of our human nature to enjoy a good story that we want love, peril, action, adversity, courage and death in the books that we read. As readers, our yearning to be moved by words is the challenge faced by the writer. 

Nothing evokes emotion quite as good as falling in love and of course death. Having completed the love task – cue mini little dance and a glass of wine – my thoughts then turn to the unfortunate task of bumping someone off. 
But, who? 
This is probably as powerful as I will ever feel. Trust me, trying to assert myself with a 4year old and a 5year old is a constant battle that I often lose, but in the realms of my imagination, I am the overlady!
Initially I thought that it had to be the baddie. I imagined my readers clapping and cheering at their demise. But then again, this would be expected wouldn’t it? And therefore, would this pull the emotional response I wanted?
Perhaps not.  So, who could it be? Who’s death would mean the most – perhaps not to me, but to one of my characters? And then suddenly my dilemma was resolved. I hadn’t considered the impact of a death on any of the characters that I had spent so much time creating. For it to mean something to the reader, it had to mean something for them.

I am now nearing the end of book two in the trilogy, The Gates of Peretyr, and I am faced with the option of another death.
“Do they have to die?” asks my mother/editor/ProofReader/NumberOneFan.
I shake my head slowly. No, they don’t…but it’s kind of cool if they did. I want the reader to get to that page in the book and gasp or cry or shout ‘Noooo’! Because then I have instigated an emotional response in them, and surely that is something writers want to do. 
“Ok,” says my mother. And then, as she’s walking off she says adamantly, “just don’t kill off the dog.”

I raise my eyebrows…Ahhh, I didn’t think of the dog…

Eleanor Elliott

Facebook – AuthorEleanorElliott

Twitter – @Elle_cymru

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