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Death Scenes - the best approach

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by Vongchild, Dec 7, 2004.

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  1. Vongchild

    Vongchild Jedi Master star 5

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    Apr 2, 2004
    Let's face it: no one wants to write a death scene. There is nothing worse than developing a character and then realizing that for your plot to work, they have to die. But, if you're going to do it, do it right. They could blow up (or spontaneously combust. That kind of thing happens in SW.) They could leave a body or become one with the force (that kind of thing happens, too) It could be drawn out (like Anakin's) or just a passing remark (like Ackbar's). It could be heroic (like Chewie's) or pointless (like Teneniel Djo's). There's so many ways to write a death scene!

    So, let's discuss!
     
  2. Darth_Elu

    Darth_Elu Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jan 2, 2003
    no one wants to write a death scene.

    I beg to differ. [face_mischief] :p I always have fun writing a death scene for some reason. [face_thinking] Does that make me even crazier? :p
     
  3. Vongchild

    Vongchild Jedi Master star 5

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    Apr 2, 2004
    *nod* indeed it does.
     
  4. Darth_Elu

    Darth_Elu Force Ghost star 6

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    Jan 2, 2003
    :D Yay!

    Anyway, I usually draw out death scenes a bit. Some are longer than others o' course.
     
  5. MistiWhitesun

    MistiWhitesun Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Aug 16, 2004
    I would contest Teneniel's death being "pointless". It's the catalyst bringing the situation which forces Jaina to come back to her senses and Tenel Ka to take the throne.

    The manner of your death scene should be dependent upon several factors, all of which I don't expect to list. The ones I'm aware of are:
    ? The plot reason for the character's death
    ? The intended psychological impact of the character's death
    ? The reason the character dies (story-wise)
    ? The disposition of those whom the character's death is supposed to affect
    ? The impact of the character's death on your story
    ? The impact on the character in your story

    ?& I can't think of any more. Compare Anakin's wrenching death to Vergere's calmly accepted one. We're walked through Ani's; Vergere's masquerades as a humor device.

    Consider the following reactions to those deaths:
    ? Mother screaming & incoherent; sister falling to Dark Side; & girlfriend going crazy.
     ? "I just realized; you're dead, aren't you." & Luke never had figured out how he felt about that Fosh?

    Hey, I don't particularly care for writing death scenes, either. In one (scrapped) story, I developed this really cute kid who I realized I'd have to kill. I had her die never knowing her father & w/out a childhood. Very depressing. Still, it was the most effective method of her being the catalyst for the amnesic father making the connection.

    My bit. I can go into more detail on the examples, if necessary.
     
  6. Spike2002

    Spike2002 Former FF-UK RSA and Arena Manager star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Feb 4, 2002
    I've written plenty of death scenes, for heroes and villains alike. The trick is not to give absolutely everyone a completely spectacular death. Some of them need to go out like punks ;)
     
  7. flowerbee

    flowerbee Jedi Knight star 5

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    Apr 29, 2004
    I agree with Spike...I kind of like killing people. None of them have had a spectacular death yet.
     
  8. Gandalf the Grey

    Gandalf the Grey Jedi Knight star 6

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    May 14, 2000


    The best death scene I ever wrote was a heroic and slightly drawn out scene. One character (one of the good guys) is trying to destroy a space station, but she's interrupted by a Dark Jedi. The Dark Jedi seriously outclassed the good Jedi in terms of skill, and the good Jedi realized pretty quickly that she had little chance. She gives it her all, but ends up getting nearly cut in half. Her enemy is about to finish her off, but she pulls out a thermal detonator and is holding the dead-mans switch down. The enemy runs for her life. But the dead mans switch on the detonator is broken, only the countdown timer works, so the Jedi spends the last minute of her life dying of shock, alone and in terrible pain, watching a thermal detonator count down towards zero.

    The best death scenes for major characters I've ever read are in A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. Subtle, long and drawn out, sad, quick, funny, heroic, it?s all there.
     
  9. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Jedi Grand Master star 9

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2001
    My problem with death scenes tends to be what the Incredibles call Monologuing. I'll have Vader, an OC, Leia, etc. die and will prolong it enough for them to have a heartwarming closure or resolve something and admonish everyone else to carry on bravely. When I wrote When Morning Comes in 2001, Leia was dying and then Vader died in her place to save her life. The dialogue, I think, took about 5 pages.

    But now, I've been working on a couple of stories that have required very depressing detachment. I mean, in Out of the Depths, a character dies in the first sentence and the reason why that is explained is more a clinical analysis than an emotional attachment. Contrast that with a post I wrote last night which involved Jaina getting word of her best friend's death, going on a hysterical rampage and not stopping until she realized that her 5-week-old daughter had stopped breathing somewhere during that time. That was one of the briefest death scenes I've ever written, even though for 5 more pages, I had her in PICU on a respirator before Luke confirmed their fears that she'd already been dead when she arrived, but there were elemnts of it that definitely worked.
     
  10. Arin_Atona

    Arin_Atona Jedi Master star 4

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    Jul 10, 2004
    It's kinda difficult to *not* have long death scenes for characters you've invested a lot into.

    I mean, how dramatic would it be for Luke Skywalker's dying words to be "Hey y'all, watch this!"
     
  11. VadersMistress

    VadersMistress Jedi Knight star 6

    Registered:
    Apr 7, 2004
    I mean, how dramatic would it be for Luke Skywalker's dying words to be "Hey y'all, watch this!"

    How true. [face_laugh] [face_laugh]

    I LOVE writing death scenes. Especially the really sad ones. The sadder, the better. :D :D Main characters, and the most beloved, are the most fun to kill off. People like Anakin (both), Obi-Wan, Luke, etc. are the best to kill.

    8-}

    I like to have mine a little drawn out but not enough so that the reader groans and gets up to get a cup of coco.
     
  12. MistiWhitesun

    MistiWhitesun Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Aug 16, 2004
    [looks over scrapped scene of little girl's death]

    Er? I can't relate to your problem. I try to keep it at a proper length so it doesn't wear out or lose the reader. I guess I go more on feeling or something. I'm not certain.
     
  13. JalendaviLady

    JalendaviLady Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 20, 2002
    So far, I've written three death scenes:

    -Hannar (OC), son of Palpatine, in "The First to Fall". He gets shot by a projectile gun and dies gasping in Anakin Skywalker's arms, trying to warn him about who and what Palpatine really is.

    -Zora (OC), mother of Han Solo, in "Fighting in the Shadows". Dies defending her child, backed into his bedroom as the stormtroopers invade their apartment.

    -Anakin Skywalker, in "Grandpa" Part 1. He dies inbetween sections, in his sleep, while a galactic peace treaty between the Jedi/Republic and several major Force-strong groups that separated from the original Jedi at the dawn of the Republic is being signed; little Ben Skywalker is the only other person in the house at the time because everyone else is at the signing.
     
  14. SkalenFehl

    SkalenFehl Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jan 17, 2003
    In my story, [link=http://boards.theforce.net/The_Saga/b10476/17102833/?]Of Loss and Love[/link], (shameless plug!), I decided the best way to treat the necessary death of one of my supporting characters was to have her die a martyr. Rather than betray her colleagues to Darth Vader, she threw herself into his already pointing lightsaber. Of course she knew there was no way out.
     
  15. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Jedi Grand Master star 9

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2001
    I think some of my favorites are the ones we can't see 'on-screen.' Like Rieekan getting his head blown apart in TOH3. The element of surprise can be killer.
     
  16. JediMaster_Jen

    JediMaster_Jen Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 3, 2002
    Let's face it: no one wants to write a death scene.

    I don't know, I'm actually gonna have to write one soon and I'm looking forward to it because I've never written a death scene in a SW fic before. I've only written one for a NASCAR fic.
     
  17. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Jedi Grand Master star 9

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    Mar 26, 2001
    I love death scenes! But is anyone surprised by that? Didn't think so.
     
  18. Jedi_BMK

    Jedi_BMK Jedi Padawan star 4

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    Sep 10, 2004
    Blowing up big things is a good way. Of course that's more on the massive scale. I like big booms though. 8-}

    Ahem. Moving on. To me, it seems that the important part of a death scene is that it fits the character. Some deserve to go out with a bang (i.e. Anakin Solo, even if I'm still bitter about that), others should be more dignified, and some practically require some drawing out to make sure the necessary impact is there.

    And, honestly, I'd like to write one. I really would. But the freaking plot bunny keeps telling me no. I wanted to take out a character in a blaze of glory in my current project, but I found them too useful later on. And I was going to take out another one in heroic fashion, but my epilogue idea wouldn't allow that.

    Instead, I increased the number of random villains, stormtroopers, etc. that I wipe out. I have to get my evil kicks somehow. And next time, me and the evil bunny are going to have it out. Unless it's another killer white rabbit like this one. And then I stand no chance.

    And if you've actually read through this rambling drivel, thanks.
     
  19. JalendaviLady

    JalendaviLady Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 20, 2002
    Yeah, the death does have to match the character.

    With mine, Anakin's death had to be a dignified thing. He's lived years after ROTJ, guided the universe to the treaty that's being signed when he dies. His last words are saying "I love you" to his favorite grandson and Luke's only child to be born by that point in my timeline when said grandchild comes to see if Grandpa, who is napping in the other room while "baby-sitting", wants to watch the treaty signing on the holovid. As far as I know, that's the most peaceful and dignified death I could have arranged in that fanfic universe.

    Hannar's fit who he is. He lived in Palpatine's home as a child and ran away when he understood why Daddy felt wrong in the Force. He's fought for the lightside as a Jedi and has tried to start engineering the Emperor's fall before he's even declared himself Emperor. He makes his way through an entire fight with a Sith Master, only to be shot by a gun Palpatine had under his robes right when he thought he'd won. He's spent his life and is losing his life for trying to foil his father's plans, and dies one breath, a single word, short of warning Anakin of the danger he is walking into.

    Zora is a street-fighter. She married a Jedi, knowing the danger that would add to her life. She was actually based on Mother Wolf from The Jungle Book, who actually makes a full grown tiger back down to defend her cubs and one adopted man-cub. She goes down fighting like something wild.
     
  20. Spike2002

    Spike2002 Former FF-UK RSA and Arena Manager star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Feb 4, 2002
    I've had a few scenes of violent deaths that I mostly appreciate, and I've made sure that all the scenes are original.

    For example:

    [b]Talon Karrde:[/b] Was shot by a laser blast in [link=http://boards.theforce.net/message.asp?topic=10933978]The New Invasion[/link] and vaporised after trying to save Shada D'Ukal from being killed.

    [b]Jacen Solo:[/b] Drew too much power of the Force to him and imploded from the sheer energy, heroically taking out a phalanx of enemy warriors with him in the process in [link=http://boards.theforce.net/message.asp?topic=12322264]The Beginning of the End[/link]

    [b]Jaina:[/b] Held back the advances of a score of enemies while the younger generation of Jedi escaped, and was then vaporised with the Jedi Temple. [link=http://boards.theforce.net/message.asp?topic=12322264]The Beginning of the End[/link]

    [b]Vua Carr (OC)[/b]: Betrayed the Jedi while on a mission to the Yuuzhan Vong galaxy, and was promptly stabbed through the back by an elite enemy warrior.[link=http://boards.theforce.net/message.asp?topic=10933978]The New Invasion[/link]

    [b]Nyssa Jammane (OC)[/b]: Managed to forestall the invasion of the GFFA by ordering Yuuzhan'tar to effect a Yo'Gands Core on itself, destroying millions of enemy invasion ships and trillions of enemy warriors. Was then physically ripped to shreds by the enemy elite warrior, but managed to kill him when she found she could access the Force. [link=http://boards.theforce.net/message.asp?topic=10933978]The New Invasion[/link]

    [b]Elite Negative Race Warrior (OC):[/b] One of the main villains of [link=http://boards.theforce.net/message.asp?topic=10933978]The New Invasion[/link]. Killed a Yuuzhan Vong elite commando unit and defeated 4 Jedi in single combat before being stopped by the telekinetic attacks of 4 lightsabers thrown at him by a Yuuzhan Vong warrior he had left for dead.

    [hr]
    With main character deaths, even if they aren't totally spectacular, I tend to make sure they accomplish something before their demise, to at least make it heroic. (Or if they're a villain, have them accomplish something rather evil) ;)>
     
  21. VaderLVR64

    VaderLVR64 Manager Emeritus star 8 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Feb 5, 2004
    I sort of like death scenes, too. I think my favorite one was very short. Obi-Wan just got really close to Qui-Gon and skewered him with a lightsaber. I wanted it to be somewhat unexpected. There were no last words, except by Obi-Wan, taunting his Master. Oh, Obi and Qui were both Sith, so I guess that explains it, doesn't it?

    My favorite person to kill off? Padme! I don't know why. But I have several stories sitting in my computer in which I kill her in a variety of ways. [face_devil]
     
  22. Alethia

    Alethia Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 13, 2005
    Killing characters is fun. I have a habit of killing of my main characters (in my original novels), just because it is fun. You make it so that they're loveable and people like them and then *bang* you kill them off or announce their impending death.

    I wanted to kill of Anakin in a fic of mine (being written, not posted) but a friend of mine said that I'd probably get killed for doing so. Killing off Anakin at the very end of a sequel of an epic fic would probably not be the brightest idea, she said, so I had to agree...

    But I think I'll kill him off sometime later. Just have to think of the right fic for it.

    I think that killing Padme might be fun too...have to try that as well. Actually, I should start trying to kill of SW characters...I've never done that before, but it should be lots of fun *grins*

    To me, death scenes can be portrayed a number of ways and they're all good. Sometimes the sudden death scene is great and sometimes you need the more agonizing drawn-out sort. But as long as there's death, it's good.
     
  23. EmilieDarklighter

    EmilieDarklighter Jedi Master star 4

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    Jan 19, 2002
    The best way: Not at all. *runs and hides*
     
  24. Vongchild

    Vongchild Jedi Master star 5

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    Apr 2, 2004
    Did I kill Vergere? Well, I can't figure out any other explanation for her final vanishing at the end of Among the Stars. She monologued about the force and the manner of life for awhile and then disappeared just like every other chapter, only it was for the last time. So yeah, in a way it was her death, because it was her exit from the story.

    And the monologing? Kind of silly, but so very Vergere.
     
  25. Mar17swgirl

    Mar17swgirl Force Ghost star 7

    Registered:
    Dec 26, 2000
    One must always pay attention: There's a line between a sad death and a over-pathetic death (the latter making you cringe rather than making you feel sad for the dying character).
     
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