How To Write A Great Death

By on January 17, 2018
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Killing off characters in a novel is one of the most difficult and exciting parts of writing it! An effective death has a significant impact on your story and how your readers feel about it. It is therefore so important to understand how to create and write a great death and ensure that this comes across to your readers.

So what are the things you can do to ensure the death in your story is well- written and not easily forgotten? Here are some helpful tips:

Make it original.

It’s all too easy, when writing death scenes, to fall into the trap of describing them in the same tired old cliched ways. Not only should the way your character die be unique and memorable, but everything from their last words and the expression on their face to the way that other characters react to their death should be arresting and unusual i- f you want to make an impact on your readers that is!

Make it have a purpose.

There needs to be a reason for killing off a character, and you, therefore, should think carefully about what affect it will have on the other characters in your book, your story, and indeed, your readers too. Killing off a character, especially unexpectedly, can be hugely dramatic. If a character dies and there are no consequences or reactions to their death it won’t be meaningful and will seem rather pointless and ineffective in your story.

Think about your reader's emotional reaction.

A death is a perfect time to ensure that your readers are on the same page as you. Making sure your readers react in the way you want them to is crucial. It may be that you want your readers to feel sad, and shocked, but remember there are many other emotions they could feel about a character death too. At the end of the day, you want to evoke a certain reaction, and whether that’s to laugh hysterically, to bawl their eyes out or to be too afraid to turn the next page is entirely up to you.

A death should prove something.

Any death in a novel should be making a statement about something. Does death prove that love is everlasting? Does death prove that goodness will always triumph over evil? Does death prove that everyone gets what is coming to them in the end? Before you write your death scene think about what point you are trying to make, and ensure that in creating your death scene your point is clear.

Writing a great death is not something that comes easily to many authors. However, done right it can enhance your book, and win over your readers. So next time you need to kill off a character, think about the points above, and you’ll no doubt write a more meaningful and powerful death scene which your readers are sure to love.

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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