This is a tough thing to do sometimes, unless you’ve set that character up to die from the start. If you have an Obi Wan Kenobi just waiting to be sacrificed for the main character’s development, that’s one thing, but what about a character whom you may not have initially intended to kill off? What about a character that’s had significant development and may have actually survived the first story as you write the sequel?
That’s where things get a little more shaky. The first thing you should ask yourself is ‘why?’
Why do you want to kill this character off? Has their story gone as far as it can and there is no other way to out that person? Will the plot be furthered by killing that person off? How will your audience react?
Killing a character has a sense of permanence about it (unless you write for Marvel or DC, in which case you kill a character off to bring them back a week later). Should you decide to do this, think very carefully on how it would affect the rest of the cast. Is it someone who needs to be killed off?
In my writing, I came to a point in my stories where I knew that I had to make this move. One of my characters had to die off… and I knew I was going to get in a lot of trouble for doing it because the one that I had in mind was one that had been with my readers since the beginning.
So when the time came and I killed off one of my characters… I can not begin to describe the angry emails I got. I seriously thought that I was destined for a ‘Misery’ episode… good lord!
I guess in the end, what I’m saying is that if you’re going to kill off a character, ESPECIALLY A POPULAR ONE, just be ready for the storm that will follow and make sure that the fans understand why you did what you did.