Are Character Deaths Necessary?

Here’s a spoiler about me; I have a habit of killing off my characters.  For some reason, I like to write really sad moments that make the reader cry.  Sometimes the death is necessary in order to move the story forward, but then my readers hate me for it.  So I’m asking the writer’s of the world:

What do you think?  Are character deaths necessary all the time, or is there some way you can shift the story around in order to make it work with that character still alive?

For some reason, I always find myself killing off the supporting character, which leaves the main character in a really awful situation.  But it always makes sense in my mind, because in order for the main character to achieve what he/she needs to, they need a little shove.  And to me, a death is the perfect shove.  But maybe some people would disagree.  I often find myself fighting this battle with myself; do I kill them or not?  Do I let them live happily ever after?  Or do I give them a tragic ending?  What makes the most sense for this story?  Is the death necessary?

Thoughts on this subject?


27 thoughts on “Are Character Deaths Necessary?

  1. Chris Sarantopoulos says:

    As long as death is part of our lives, then I think it should be part of our stories. Besides, I’m not a big fan of happy endings, mainly because it’s not realistic. I kill my characters regardless of whether they’re main characters or supportive. If the story demands it, then I go, “off with their heads.” But always if the story demands it. If I understand it correctly, romance is all about happily ever afters, so it depends on the genre and your target audience.


  2. April McLauren says:

    I don’t think characters should be killed just for fun, and it depends what kind of shove they need in my opinion. It cant be pointless, and although death does happen, it doesn’t happen that abundantly most of the time. But it shouldn’t be shied away from.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Roxie says:

    there are many variables, so a yes or no won’t cut it imho. that said, you must know what you want to accomplish with each move your character makes: what pushes the story forward, what might cause a reader to pause, or potentially quit reading. another consideration falls into the category about your expectations: do you want to be traditionally published, as in find an agent, find a publishing house, etc. or do you want to self-publish, or something in between? each of those carries much weight as your readers’ expectations must be considered. anyway, my thoughts, perhaps helpful, perhaps not…
    keep writing, and chase some avenues, that’s for sure, lol!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The Shameful Narcissist says:

    I feel like I replied to this already! If I did and I’m repeating, I apologize. I’ll say this. George R R Martin, the author of A Song of Ice and Fire kills off characters in such a way you’d think he and the Grim Reaper were kin, and he’s one of the most renown authors around.

    The fact that you said you liked killing off supporting characters in order to force your characters to grow says it all. You’re not just doing it on a whim or for shock value. ASOIAF is my favorite book series, but it’s my second favorite story, which isn’t even a book, but a video game, FFVII. FFVII (which is nearly twenty years old) kills off a character and to this day people still talk about it, and it’s one of the most popular games in history. Heck, I could’ve stuck with GRRM since the first book A Game of Thrones was released the same year, and people are still talking about a character’s death in the first book. Granted, there was a major revival of interest with the TV series, but us book readers didn’t forget!

    This is cliched, but death is a part of life, and it makes sense to show it in a narrative. It’s something we all an relate to. Most of us have lost someone, and understand the gaping wound that leaves. It helps readers empathize and connect with a character.

    Liked by 1 person

    • katiemdean says:

      I think you already replied to this post but that’s alright 🙂 Game of Thrones is one of my favorite shows, and that’s honestly where I turn when I’m “afraid” to kill of a character. And you’re right, I never write a death scene for the shock of it; there’s always a reason. And because death is a part of life, that means it needs to be a part of the stories we read/watch, too.

      Liked by 1 person

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