Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Death Becomes Us

The death scene. Aside from the sex scene, it's one of the most touchy things to write. How far do you go? How graphic do you make it? Do you imply things or do you just lay it all out? So many questions and so many choices.

So, when a contest comes along to write a death scene, it brought a question to my mind or maybe more of a thought.

Death scenes, depending upon the character, are incredibly personal and can be incredibly intense. To me, the main reason for this is because if you've developed a character enough, killing that character will create emotion. Whether that emotion is sadness or happiness depends on the character and what type of personality she or he has.

I truly believe that a death scene should be powerful. I realize that the characters are fictional, but as a reader, I become emotionally attached to characters. The same thing happens when you write characters. As a reader, one of the best death scenes I've ever read was in the Gunslinger series by Stephen King. In the last book (I think) one of the main characters is killed off. When this happened, I was not only surprised, but I was so struck by the intensity of my sadness that I broke down. This character had been so well developed that by the time the character was killed, I was emotionally attached. This person had gone from being a despot to redemption to hero throughout the course of the series and it was tough. I've purposefully left this character's name out so that I don't spoil it for anyone who may be reading the series. But I think you get my point.

So, where is all of this going? Back to the contest. I think contests are fun and cool and all sorts of nifty adjectives. So, I guess my question is this: How do I, as a writer, create a powerful death scene for a character that I haven't developed properly. I mean, sure, you can kill someone off in a creative manner and be graphic or not, but without having the background on the character and the love or hate... the death scene is meaningless. Anyway, maybe I'm sounding a bit silly, but I don't want to kill someone off (fictional or otherwise) on a whim.

That's all for now.

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