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On character death and warnings.

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by Eleventh_Guard, May 19, 2006.

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  1. Eleventh_Guard

    Eleventh_Guard Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    Dec 17, 2005
    Generally, it's polite to warn when characters in a fic will die, if it's not obvious from the summary or first post or whatnot. At least, that's been my experience on other forums. Not necessarily detailing who, when, and how, but a "characters die" thing or something as a note.

    Anyway, I labeled a fic as such, stating that minor characters might not make it, without stating which ones. There are 5 main characters, all canon, (3 protagonists, 2 antagonists) and a supporting OC. The OC and one antagonist were slated for death anyway, but one of the protagonists, I've decided, will probably go. How is the warning handled? I'm between 1/4 and 1/3 finished.

    Should I make a note stating that no character is safe, and that it's possible a major character will die in the story? Should I revise the original note, state that the note has been revised, and see what happens? Or just leave it alone and proceed?
     
  2. Jaya Solo

    Jaya Solo Jedi Knight star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 12, 1999
    Meh. I never warned my readers when I was about to kill people off. I'm evil like that. Most of my stories are happy ones, but when I'm writing a serious fic, I tend to play on everything. I do put a little warning sometimes before the chapter, or make a comment afterward that a particular post almost made me cry...

    Honestly, I don't think it's necessary to alert readers to the fact that characters may die. Since most of Star Wars occurs during a war, I think it's a given that people could die. I do put things like "angst" in the descriptive words that usually give the readers an idea that this story might not always be so happy. ;) But that's my opinion. :)
     
  3. Kidan

    Kidan TFN EU Staff star 5 VIP

    Registered:
    Jul 20, 2003
    Truthfully I don't see it as that big of a deal, and don't even think to put 'death' warnings on my fics.
     
  4. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Jedi Grand Master star 9

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2001
    I think it depends on your readers. After all, some people want to know that sort of thing. I rather like having the mystery.
     
  5. Luna_Nightshade

    Luna_Nightshade Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Jan 25, 2006
    I think the warning detracts from the buildup and the emotional attachment to a character, which is necessary for a "good" character death.

    But that's just me.
     
  6. Daenarrah

    Daenarrah Jedi Youngling star 3

    Registered:
    Nov 12, 2005
    There have been a few fics I've read that have had characters deaths and it's thrown me completely. Yet it also draws me in because it makes me wonder how the fic is going to unfold from there. So I don't mind the surprise. I prefer it, actually, and would rather not be told about a character death.
     
  7. poor yorick

    poor yorick Ex-Mod star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Jun 25, 2002
    As far as I can tell, the "don't label character death stories" thing is peculiar to TFN. It seems to me that in most other fandoms, the "character death" label is considered somewhere between polite and absolutely mandatory. (On alt.tv.x-files.creative, where I used to waste--er, spend--my time before I started hanging out here, the flippin' world would end if you didn't label a character death story.)

    Why don't people here seem to care? I have no idea. I've never quite gotten used to it. I think I probably would prefer a "character death" label up front, although it doesn't have to say who gets the axe or when. It just seems to help to go in with the right mindset.

    Then again, I've never entirely gotten used to markup codes, either. I got nailed by absolutely everyone in the "Guess The Writer" game because I still use ASCII characters as a substitute for bold, italic, etc. :p
     
  8. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Jedi Grand Master star 9

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2001
    I don't want people to go into my stories thinking "Well, when's this person going to kick the bucket? That's all I'm here for."
     
  9. Eleventh_Guard

    Eleventh_Guard Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    Dec 17, 2005
    Ah. I did think it was strange that there were few warnings here because it's very standard on other sites. It was just that "minor characters" shouldn't include the one character that gets the most page time; my readers are going by the fact that both the 2 most important characters are safe, and I decided that I want to kill one of them.

    Seriously considering leaving the plot alone, as originally planned, so I don't have to worry about the truth-in-labeling part.
     
  10. Kidan

    Kidan TFN EU Staff star 5 VIP

    Registered:
    Jul 20, 2003
    If the plot & the story are served better with a character's death, then DO SO!



    if the label bothers you, go ahead and remove it....i know it's 1984-ish, but if it's not there, then you can't be held to its standard...[face_laugh]
     
  11. jackyyy17

    jackyyy17 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jan 12, 2006
    Honestly, I don't put weather or not m character will die in my fics.(Of course a lot of times they were not planned to die in the original.)

    But I have to agree that it takes away from the fic, if you go in knowing that so and so is going to die.
     
  12. Valairy Scot

    Valairy Scot Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 16, 2005
    My $.02 worth - if it's a canon character, then label it AU somewhere. I just posted one where Qui killed Obi, and I labeled Title. AU. Dark! to warn folks, but that was my only warning.

    I use AU when I make a major deviation - but I let the story itself explain/show the deviation and/or death.
     
  13. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Jedi Grand Master star 9

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2001
    I warn people if it's angst, if it's AU. I will often tell what pairings there are. Since I write just about everything, it helps.
     
  14. GrandAdmiralV

    GrandAdmiralV Jedi Youngling star 3

    Registered:
    May 30, 2005
    I agree completely. I mean, imagine how much emotional impact something like Gone With the Wind would lose if you knew from the beginning that Melanie was going to kick the bucket!

    (Sorry if I gave anything away there.) :eek:

    I think the "AU" label for the times when you're going to kill off a canon character is probably a good idea. But I like people to worry that none of my OCs are safe. [face_devil]
     
  15. Healer_Leona

    Healer_Leona Squirrely Community Mod star 9 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jul 7, 2000
    While I can be taken aback by a character death, to the point of posting a "How could you do that?!?", it's all in the fun and excitement of reading.

    Personally, I'd rather not read a spoiler (which is what I would consider a warning of a character death).

    Our emotions are at the mercy of the writer and this is just how I like it, whether a happy surprise or tragic one and a main love of reading.
     
  16. Jade_Pilot

    Jade_Pilot Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    Dec 10, 2005
    I am the "happily-ever-after" Queen, so I don't as a rule kill off any of my characters. But to warn them ahead of time seems to reveal a lot of your story line.

    I like the idea posted previously about labeling the story as "dark."
    That would prepare me for death and/or taxes.
     
  17. Daenarrah

    Daenarrah Jedi Youngling star 3

    Registered:
    Nov 12, 2005
    I also like the idea of seeing "dark" or AU or angst in the description. Any of those gives the reader a warning but doesn't give away if there's going to be a death or not.

    I'm writing one right now where I'm leaving it up to the readers to decide if a character is dead or not. I won't reveal it until the very end. It's an AU and it's angsty so I have it marked as such, but I'm not going beyond that.
     
  18. dianethx

    dianethx Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    Mar 1, 2002
    As a reader, I don't want to know ahead of time that a character is going to die. I'd rather be surprised. However, I do label my fics dark when the reader needs to know that going in so that if they only read non-dark stuff, they can back away quickly and go elsewhere. I don't want them unhappy with my work. Next time I might write fluffy and if they see one story is dark (without a warning), then they might think that's all I write.
     
  19. Mirax_Corran

    Mirax_Corran Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jan 25, 2005
    I don't often write character death, but I don't like having it labelled, actually. It's more exciting to not know the death is coming - like in profic, it's sadder when you don't know that X character is going to die.

    As for warnings, [link=http://boards.theforce.net/ASP/user.asp?usr=1150439]Jesina_Dreis[/link] who doesn't really hang out here any more, but writes a lot of very angsty stuff, numerous main characters dying, etc, puts the following "disclaimer" on her stuff:

    General Disclaimer: I am not responsible for any health problems developed by readers as a result of this story. By clicking, readers agree to accept risks to their person.

    So she warns you that the story is angsty, without actually saying that anyone is going to die. (But don't get me on that tangent.)


    And I'm posting this totally without her permission, but I just copied it from [link=http://boards.theforce.net/Beyond_the_Saga/b10477/18001278/]False Truths[/link].
     
  20. Meredith_Kenobi

    Meredith_Kenobi Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 20, 2005
    I also don't like to be told that a character is going to die. It makes it seem more real. I mean, in real life how often are we warned: 'Oh by the way, such and such is going to die tomorrow. Just so you know.'
     
  21. InyriForge

    InyriForge Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    Jan 24, 2002
    I usually don't warn about character deaths. I have on a few, specific occasions where it was the entire plot of the fic, but on average, I don't.

    I tend to write pilot!fic (based off the X-wing novels). Since a number of the people in the actual novels don't make it, it just seems like character death is part of the genre. I also tend to decide on which characters go later in the story. I never set out to kill so-and-so. I'll reach a point where a death needs to happen to advance the plot or cause certain reactions from other characters.

    ~Inyri
     
  22. SpiritofEowyn

    SpiritofEowyn Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 5, 2005
    [face_thinking] I don't think I've ever warned people I was going to kill off chacters. Well, the title might have indicated something like that might happen... I agree it's better not to tell people that characters are going to die, just write the death scene very well so they don't feel 'jiped' and justify it, and there you go.

    Although I don't suggest killing off characters in, say, humor fics.(and labeled as such) That would completely throw people off, and make them think you're sick.
     
  23. Jaya Solo

    Jaya Solo Jedi Knight star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 12, 1999
    Unless you did it in a funny way or kept bringing them back to life. [face_batting]
     
  24. Jesina_Dreis

    Jesina_Dreis Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Hehe. Myra, that warning was thanks to SweetPea, who was running to her defibrilator and having her cat call 911 every time someone got hurt/sick/dead. :p

    No, I generally don't warn about character deaths. If it's a vignette, I sometimes do. But in a larger story - and though I have written a lot of vigs, I spend much more of my time on novels/epics - I think the warning takes away from the story.

    My take on it is that we're writing during wartime. Most of what I write centers on pilots, who traditionally have very short lifespans. There're numerous references to Rogue Squadron's roster, and the ever-growing list of deceased members. Characters die; it happens, and in my opinion, readers should know going in that there's a possibility characters may be killed.

    But then, I have a pretty limited readership and they all know my style, so all I have to do is this: [face_devil] and they know something terrible is afoot ;)

    Jes
     
  25. The Great No One

    The Great No One Jedi Grand Master star 8

    Registered:
    Jun 4, 2005
    surprise me, that's really all i've got to say.

    warnings take so much out of the fic that it's not even funny. i prefer to have a general idea what direction things are going to go, but never tell me if someone could die or not. no warning. since that's my preference that's what i do.

    my fics have been rather diverse so far, but i normally put AU if it's AU, but other than that if you don't see humor on it be prepared for anything in my book. after all, if it's not humor and for the sole purpose of making people laugh then anything can happen. you really don't know how the plot's going to mutate on you, so you should be prepared to make those changes as they arise. if you have no warning yourself warning others makes little sense to me.

     
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