Killing them not so softly

A tragic hero is born

I killed off a character not too long ago – and a main one at that. At the time, I had to take a moment’s pause. Was it because I was continually reminded how good this individual was, despite his flaws? Perhaps it was because I bore witness to just how close he skirted to tragedy? Then again, weren’t his motives always based in the right place, despite some of his questionable actions? I saw his innocence, his perfection and his surrender, in an absolutely imperfect (and sometimes, unfair) world. And there was beauty – much, much beauty. Bravery, too. With that, I humbly slipped back into the extraordinary realm of my characters and watched as this hero died a true hero’s death.

We’ve seen it all before: the killing of a main character. And the reasons are pretty standard:

– it drives the plot forward

– it helps with another character’s arc

– it’s great for dramatic effect (bad reason!)

– the (dead) character had reached his/her arc

But, what if killing a hero, or heroine serves another purpose?

Redemption, or a putting something ahead of his/her own needs in light of a greater purpose.

In other words, what if it’s the character’s choice to die?

This is what I realized as I visualized, and wrote this character’s demise. To better understand my character’s decision, I re-read some of the events leading up to his seemingly tragic choice. And while I did eventually come to a place of acceptance, I won’t say it didn’t hurt. It did.

Copyright © 2021 Cara Sands. All rights reserved.

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