To kill or not to kill, that is the quesion

Forums Fiction Plotting To kill or not to kill, that is the quesion

This topic contains 21 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Theresa Play 4 months ago.

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  • #81747

    Theresa Play
    @theresa-play

      Setting, fantasy world.

      MC, single father, weaver, running to save his life and the life of his 3(-5)yr old daughter.

      Character to kill or not, the afore mentioned daughter.

       

      Here’s the thing, if I kill her off (in a sacrificial way) (think back to Old Testament Moloch) then I get to explore the moral decline of that world, a distraught MC, a best friend that tries to help, a MC on a revenge path, and a possible redemption arc for the MC. But, in doing this it would become a much darker story, the MC wouldn’t be so much of a hero as he is in the beginning, and the writing part would be so much more difficult.

      On the flip side, she could be rescued, it would be much more child friendly, we get to see the MC doing more with his skill set than being bent on revenge, and the friend still is there helping. I could go into other issues that that world faces instead of that on in particular. However, I feel like the plot would be more predictable, its kind of the cowards way out of hard scenes, and there would never be a redemption arc possibility at all.

       

      So, which plot would y’all rather read? Which one seems less predictable? And which one do y’all think would just be a better story?

      "My prayer is that when I die, all of hell rejoices that I am out of the fight."
      - C. S. Lewis

      #82820

      Sarah Inkdragon
      @sarah-inkdragon

      @theresa-play

      It really depends on who you’re writing for and what you’re comfortable writing…. personally, I don’t mind dark novels as long as they have good themes behind them(*looks at my own novel* Yeah, I don’t really get to say not to write dark novels…. XD), and don’t dwell on it too much.

      But then there’s the actual execution of the death–is it just plot fodder, or will it actually affect the story in a meaningful way? Let’s take the end of the Maze Runner for example. I read that book at maybe…. 12? 13? Something like that, and honestly, I thought it was pretty cliche and boring… and then you got to the end. The characters had just escaped the maze, figured out some important things, and then in like the last few pages there was a very graphic description of gore/death(for my 12yro mind at least) of what(if I’m remembering correctly) was the lab that was in charge of the maze beforehand. It was a rather dark turn for the novel that had seemed like it was going to have an okay end, but….. it still was rather flat, to me. It didn’t really shock me or make me sad–it was just–oh, they died. Okay.

      I’m not a particularly emotional person, and I don’t get attached to characters easily, but you’d think I’d think something of this scene since it was obviously meant to be shocking. But it wasn’t because it was plot fodder. “This is an angsty teen dystopian novel, so let’s throw in a scene where the characters find the lab that was controlling them the whole time was destroyed and everyone there died… because PLOT.” I’ve never gone back to finish the series, because the first book bored me so much.

      Back to the point. What is the theme of your novel? Is it the downfall of man without God? Is it the loss of innocent life? This can make or break a “sacrificial” scene. If your theme is “bad things happen to good people”, that sounds like an okay theme(and can be totally pulled off)…. but it might not work because it’s just that. Any death you put in there is just going to seem to be a cheap plot device to push the theme on readers, unless you really get it right.

      So let’s say your theme is the fall of man without God. You kill off this little girl, but where you go from there afterwards is very important also. You can generally take it in one of two ways–the MC falling even farther away from God in despair, or him coming to accept this death and living on to try and prevent things like this from happening again. Where you take it depends only on you, but it’s very important so think it through carefully.

      Now let’s assume you don’t kill this little girl. Personally….. I think the other way around would be more unpredictable, but it’s also a pretty sensitive topic and if you don’t feel comfortable writing it, I wouldn’t. At least not without thinking about it and why it’s a good thing to do carefully. But if you don’t kill her, will this affect the plot? Will it contribute to some major plot areas, like the worldview of the MC changing? There’s still the possibility of a redemption arc even without killing her off–you could have her injured, or kidnapped and used against the MC, or you could have him feel guilty for pulling her into whatever the conflict of the novel is and leave her behind, only to realize that he’s hurting her more that way than if he took her with. You could have her injured and him leave her to heal them go off to hunt down whoever injured her and exact his revenge, only to realize that’s not what she would want(a little cliche, but if you pull it off it can be rather powerful).

      Keep in mind–children are one of the most powerful motivations of any character, no matter what age.

      Veritas Nunquam Perit. (The truth never dies.)

      #82879

      Ariel Ashira
      @ashira

      @theresa-play My first thought is, kill the girl.  Its less predictable, and could make a better more impactful story as long as you are not afraid to handle darker themes.  Maybe another child could come into the story that he needs to protect later on, and that would evoke a lot of conflicting emotion, hurt and anger and maybe revenge or wanting to do it over again when he feels he failed before.

      "No matter how much it hurts, how dark it gets, or how hard you fall, you are never out of the fight."

      #83835

      Theresa Play
      @theresa-play

        @sarah-inkdragon, thanks a lot for this. It give me a lot to think about

        @ashira, gee, thats your first thought? 😉 I like the idea of bringing in another child eventually, I don’t know, I have a lot of thoughts

        "My prayer is that when I die, all of hell rejoices that I am out of the fight."
        - C. S. Lewis

        #83880

        Ariel Ashira
        @ashira

        @theresa-play Yeah, I have a strong but rather violent relationship with my characters XD!

        "No matter how much it hurts, how dark it gets, or how hard you fall, you are never out of the fight."

        #83995

        Warden
        @nuetrobolt

        @theresa-play, don’t kill her! I hate it when the little kids get killed. That just ruins a book for me. I mean I’m okay with you killing off older people, especially if they are sacrificing themselves for something, but don’t kill off the innocent little kids, especially the innocent little girl. That’s so nasty. I would never forgive you if you did it. I don’t care what’s predictable. It’s fine to be predictable. You could make it unpredictable how she escapes death. You could make it that one of the people who was going to kill her freed her or something like that, rather than the father. Just find some alternative to her death.

        I'm Throne Warden of Emberia or Nuetrobolt. I write with my tiny dragon, Vip.

        #84167

        Ariel Ashira
        @ashira

        @nuetrobolt  But in real life, kids and little children do die.  Its terrible I agree, but it happens and its real and people need to know how to deal with it.  Finding an alternative doesn’t help anyone in the long run.

        "No matter how much it hurts, how dark it gets, or how hard you fall, you are never out of the fight."

        #85723

        Warden
        @nuetrobolt

        @ashira You were supposed to agree with me. People are so heartless.

        Books are not supposed to be like life. Not too much like it at any rate. That’s why we can have villains without thinking, really, badguys like this really are not this common that they appear in every book. You don’t have to make it like real life. And frankly. I don’t know of any little girl (or boy) who has died, much less was murdered. In fact, I don’t know of any people who were murdered. Is that supposed to be like real life???? People aren’t that cruel, to kill a little kid. (Unless its an unborn baby, then suddenly people have no qualms in breaking that rule).

        Anyways, don’t kill her.

        I'm Throne Warden of Emberia or Nuetrobolt. I write with my tiny dragon, Vip.

        #85724

        Warden
        @nuetrobolt

        @theresa-play, that argument was for you too, just forgot to tag you.

        • This reply was modified 4 months, 1 week ago by  Warden.

        I'm Throne Warden of Emberia or Nuetrobolt. I write with my tiny dragon, Vip.

        #85777

        MyClipboardIsMyViolin
        @myclipboardismyviolin

        I would kill the dad instead. 😛 Him dying to save his daughter would be more poignant than dark.

        But I think the whole premise of this topic is flawed. Is this death logically going to happen? Does the evil of the story have a reason to kill the little girl, specifically, or is this an accident? The idea of a writer randomly throwing death into the story to serve themselves doesn’t sit well with me. You need to think about the WHY of the story in terms of why the evil bad guys do what they do, why the good guys do what they do, etc, and go deeper into your notes.

        Ultimately, your writing needs to serve your readers. Who are you writing this story for? Why are you writing this? That decides the characters’ reasons why they do things, which then has a massive impact on the answer to the question. Once you’ve established the reasoning, you then need to establish the abilities of the father to save the girl and his interest in doing so versus the abilities and interest of the malevolent force trying to kill her. That will decide the question.

        Sarah, Miss S, Sierepica_Fuzzywalker

        #85795

        I, David
        @i-david

        @ashira

        “My first thought is, kill the girl.”

        I think she asked for thoughts, not prompts. XD

        "Lately, I've been- I've been thinking... I want you to be Happier... I want you to be Happier."

        #85837

        Ariel Ashira
        @ashira

        @nuetrobolt  I agree, lots of people are heartless.  And there is a lot more evil in the world and through history than you seem to realize.  People DO kill little children, and do terrible things with them.  If you want me to give you a ton of historical and modern day examples, I can.  Satan is definatley that cruel, and when he controls people they do horrible things.  Just because that much reality has not touched your life yet does not mean it does not exist.

        “Books are not supposed to be like life. Not too much like it at any rate. That’s why we can have villains without thinking, really, badguys like this really are not this common that they appear in every book.”  Then WHY DO YOU WRITE if not to help people with reality by helping them kknow how to deal with real life stuff???  Truth is stranger than any fiction, and the closer you get to the truth, the crazer it gets.  There are tons of badguys – they just may not always look like some cheesy authors  portray them.  And sometimes the “badguy” villain is ourselves, or obsacles we have to come to grips with and learn.  Like if your little sibling is murdered in real life for evil reasons – it could happen.   And you would need to know how to deal with that.  Maybe even help other people who went through the same thing.  I think @theresa-play is very brave and bold for maybe doing this because a lot of writers dont even want to face reality or see what really happens and address it.

        @myclipboardismyviolin “The idea of a writer randomly throwing death into the story to serve themselves doesn’t sit well with me.”  I agree, but I dont think Alia is killing her for no reason.

        “Ultimately, your writing needs to serve your readers. Who are you writing this story for?”  That is a very good question, but I think the answers are simple.  Maybe people who need to come to grips with what can really happen, or people who have experienced this already and need help with what to do.  I can think of many reasons.

        "No matter how much it hurts, how dark it gets, or how hard you fall, you are never out of the fight."

        #85894

        Warden
        @nuetrobolt

        @ashira, yah, I kind of knew all that, but I wasnt’ about to say so, because I was trying to discourage the death, not encourage it. Whatever, I lost the argument, but I still say she should be spared.

        I'm Throne Warden of Emberia or Nuetrobolt. I write with my tiny dragon, Vip.

        #85897

        Ariel Ashira
        @ashira

        @nuetrobolt You mean you said something you didnt even really believe just to try to convince someone??

        "No matter how much it hurts, how dark it gets, or how hard you fall, you are never out of the fight."

        #85899

        Warden
        @nuetrobolt

        Well I… (Not sure how to answer)

        Yes and No.

        I'm Throne Warden of Emberia or Nuetrobolt. I write with my tiny dragon, Vip.

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