Warning: This post will contain Game Of Thrones spoilers. If you haven’t watched Sunday’s episode, please don’t read this post.
This week, one of my favorite characters on Game Of Thrones was brought back from the dead. Yes, we didn’t see him die (just as we didn’t see Hodor and many other characters die) but he was left in a situation he couldn’t survive. I assumed he’d died. I grieved. I moved on.
Now, he’s back. Many buddies thought I’d be thrilled.
I’m not. This is the second character they’ve brought back from the dead this season. I suspect they plan to bring Khal Drogo back (based on the prophecy and the fact they haven’t stopped talking about him). Who else will they resurrect?
And if any character can be brought back from the dead, why should we care when characters die? Why should we care when they fight, when they’re in perilous situations, when they’re inflicted with a seemingly incurable disease? The tension, the emotions from those scenes are gone for me.
THIS is the reason, as writers, we have to be very careful about bringing characters back from the dead. It changes the way readers view a story and a series.
Few writers kill characters for no reason. It is a gut wrenching experience. I cry every time I kill a character. I created him or her. To destroy him or her tears my heart out.
We know the death will impact readers. If the character is much loved, we know we’ll cause readers pain, perhaps make them cry. As a romance writer, I love making readers happy. Making them sad hurts me.
But killing our characters is sometimes necessary. Maybe we write medical romances or stories with battle scenes or murder mysteries, stories in which death and danger happens. To not have a death (especially in a series) wouldn’t be right for the story or the series.
In one of my cyborg stories, I killed a beloved secondary character. It was the right thing to do for that character, for the book, for the series.
I’d created a character who couldn’t live in the world without substantially changing, without losing every aspect that made him special.
I also knew a cyborg had to die eventually. The cyborgs are at war and, although they seem indestructible, they aren’t.
In addition to this, I needed something extremely shocking and personally moving to happen to force the cyborgs to change, to reevaluate their priorities. They were too inward looking, too focused on themselves. This death was that shocking incident.
The reader backlash from this character’s death was intense. Readers were angry. They sent me emotional messages. They vowed never to read another book I write. I lost two-thirds of the readership for the cyborg series with that decision.
Yeah. (grimaces) It was one of the darkest times of my writing career. I will always write but I questioned if publishing my stories was the right thing to do. My goal in life is to make at least one person a day happy. With this story, I’d made many people unhappy.
The temptation to miraculously bring the character back from the dead in the next story was tremendous. Some readers asked for this. Readers wrote fanfiction in which this character survived.
I didn’t resurrect this character. While allowing him to stay dead might not have been the best decision for sales, it was the right decision for the series. My reasons for his death hadn’t changed. Bringing him back to life would have felt wrong, like a cheat, and that would have dampened my love for the series, a series I originally wrote only for me.
Killing a character, even a minor character, should be a serious decision. Bringing him or her back from the dead is an even bigger decision. It will have an impact on your story and on your series.
Think before you resurrect characters.
He’ll risk it all for one moment of happiness.
Cyborgs don’t show emotion. Death learned that lesson early in his long lifespan. To survive, he hides his fierce passions behind a stoic wall. He calls no warrior friend. He never admits to caring for any being.
Even the human female he’s destined to love.
Tifara is Death’s obsession, his sole opportunity for happiness, to express the all-consuming passion burning brightly inside him. He’ll do anything to obtain the curvaceous medic: defy a direct order, abduct Tifara from her battle station, and wage war on his fellow cyborgs.
To earn her love, he’ll have to risk much, much more.